Latex Mask Making Tips From Allen Hopps

Rate this Entry

Allen Hopps posted a series of tips on using latex to make masks a while back. I collected them for you here.

#1 Dont drink it.

#2 - Thin your latex with distilled water or ammonia only- the minerals in tap water will cause clumping.

#3 The best dremel bit for cleaning seams is the felt wheel then you can wipe the rest of the seam away with naphtha on a rag

#4 Mist your mold with water from a spray bottle before you pour in latex, that will help the mold wick the moisture from the latex faster and prevent bubbles.

#5- Latex storage! I always buy in five gallon buckets or a larger quantity. As soon as I get to 3/4 of a bucket or less I press a plastic bag over the top and down so it touches the latex, that way no air gets to it and it wont skin on you. If it gets too cold it can thicken or even cure so make sure it stays within 20 degrees of room temp (73) or it can shorten the life of your product. In winter I sneak my buckets into the hot water heater closet because that stays a decent temp even in the garage.

#6- Vinegar makes latex cure instantly- so if you are building up or patching an area then you can mist the layer with vinegar and then apply the next layer greatly speeding up the process.

#7- Latex is going to shrink about 10% from the sculpt- so start your sculpt by adding 3/4" of clay over the whole thing, then start your sculpt.

Tip#8 - Make sure to define where you want your cuts to be in the sculpt. Lots of mask can be lost trying to even up eyeholes.

Tip#9 - The formula for making paint for latex masks is- 1/3 casting latex, 1/3 latex house paint, 1/3 distilled water

Tip #10 THIS IS IMPORTANT- Get a big cheap pump top bottle of hand lotion with Lanolin in it, it will get latex out of arm hair painlessly, just rub it on and remove. and hand lotion with lanolin will remove latex from hair.

Tip #11- Never forget that a person will have to be inside of the mask you make- wear it, see where it presses on your face, check if it digs into the eyes. Can you breathe and see? Those are not important to a sculpture but they are very important to an actor wearing a mask. I'm a decent sculptor but a very good mask maker because I think of the actor through the whole process.

Tip# 12- When you are pouring up a two piece mold for a mask, adding some latex caulk in the gutter key at the top of the head can reduce leakage. When making the mold dont make it a perfectly smooth dome, add a bit of a ridge so the mold banding straps have a place to grab. The last thing you want is for them to slip off and open the mold... wait. The actual last thing you want is to lift the mold while it's full of latex while accidentally standing on the strap. Covering you and the floor in latex, so tuck the ends of your straps in or tape them up.

Tip#13- Never forget that you are playing. You are working with the simplest materials Mud (clay), rocks (plaster), and tree sap (latex- from the rubber tree). To shape them you are using the worlds most valuable tools your imagination. When you get stressed about a sculpt or a mold. Relax and remember that you are playing- it should be fun.