The video at the top of this post shows the results of my recent experiment in reproducing masks in a silicone mold. The results were encouraging, but expensive. I had some silicone left over from another project, and used it to make a mold of a wolf that I sculpted using Sargent Art Plastilina, a very soft oil-based modeling clay.
You also get to see me totally destroy the original sculpt and a mask I tried to make using the original as a positive mold, but we won’t dwell on that…
To see another method that actually works using a clay positive mold (no undercuts or fine details) see Kevin Doheny’s video, below.
And I also added a “bonus video” at the bottom of the post showing how to make a really simple table easel for making masks, using a few pieces of scrap lumber.
So, what did I learn from this experiment?
- You can get a very detailed copy of your mask using one layer of plaster cloth in a soft, flexible silicone mold.
- You can reinforce the plaster cloth with one layer of blue shop towels and a paste made with Elmer’s Glue-All and drywall joint compound (the home-made gesso recipe).
- If you decide you need to change the original sculpt to add additional details or fix a boo-boo, you will have to make another (expensive) silicone mold.
- One layer of plaster cloth over a clay model with deep undercuts will not survive being removed from the form.
When it might make sense to use a silicone mold with plaster cloth to make multiple masks:
- If you need a lot of identical masks,
- If you need the finished masks to have lots of fine details,
- If you don’t have time to add those fine details after pulling a dried mask off a positive clay form (like the ones I show you how to make in my mask book),
- And if you think the expense of the silicone material could make sense because of time saved or because you have a market for a lot of copies of the same design.
If these things apply to a project you have planned, you may want to experiment a bit more with this method. If you do experiment, please let us know how your experiments turn out!