We spent a good portion of last weekend making papier mache and experimenting with acrylic paints and ink and I have to say the results are starting to look quite good. With the rest of the costume elements largely being made from existing kit and clothing, the masks are turning into the most intensive pieces of work. Hopefully though they’ll survive the next few weeks and end up being turned into something I can hang on the walls as a souvenir.
The basic cotton-based masks proved a good base for the glue and water mix I used, drying fairly quickly with some judicious use of airing cupboard space and strategic re-application of layers to reinforce tricky corners and junctions. Most of the issues came around trying to decide how to implement the various design ideas that we all had.
Most of the images found online for references use silver and gold, so those were the main colours that ended up being used as the base, but other hues and decorative patterns can also be seen on both official and fan-made designs, so I was pleased to find a good range of acrylic paints in a paint box that I had completely forgotten I had.
In the end I used a plain black acrylic paint base layer to seal the external surface so that further design work wouldn’t get lost in the text and pictures in the original newspaper coverings. After that we each took time to design shapes that we could cut into card and use as templates.
Some judicious use of water softened the card so that we could mould it to fit the mask contours and backed it with more glue for a secure fit, followed by more paint to help seal the whole surface. Then I dry-brushed silver over the whole assembly to pick out detail and give us a real idea of how each mask design was going to work out.
Death Eater masks are designed to inspire fear, so a bright colour scheme was never going to be on the cards, but I’ve also seen plenty of masks that use a brighter silver background to highlight dark hand-painted designs. I’ve not painted for quite some time, so I was reluctant to dive straight into that route. That’s why we went the card and template route.
I may adapt a cut out template at some point for another design if I do more in the future, as that seems a good compromise between the flow of paint and the structure of inlays. Each of us had ideas of how we wanted the masks to look. My daughter’s incorporates elements that look like a mask on the mask – or possibly a flayed mask, depending on how the colour scheme develops as she would like a little red in the mix somewhere.
Lady M’s mask is all swirls and contours with splashes of green that suggest the Slytherin House background of many Death Eaters. My own takes cues from predatory animals, with dart-like daggers and stripes and stays with the golds and silvers.
By comparison, Lady P’s ensemble promises to mix bold colours with the dark cloak as a memorable comparison. The contrast should be rather striking, so I’m rather looking forward to seeing what she comes up with with limited preparation time.
For now, I think I won’t be doing much else to the masks, at least until this weekend when I reclaim the table that I usually keep my writing setup on as an art surface again. The final touches may not even go up until the morning before we head out to the event. Alternatively I might leave them, use the Thorpe Park event as a dry run and then tweak them for the MCM Expo in London at the end of October.
Each mask, to date, has about three or four layers of paint and ink washes on them with strategic dry brushing to highlight detail. Right now I’m struggling to find a point where I don’t either darken them too much, or give a cartoonish colour boost.
I tell you, designing these evil masks is a lot harder than it seems. I’m tending to go for more muted schemes given that we’ll be out in public as the evening draws in. Combined with hoods and capes and dark clothing beneath them, the effect should look quite intimidating.