This article is part three of a four-part article on the creation of a full head latex mask. The previous article covered the making of the two-part mold, creation of the parting line, adding mold keys and applying casting plaster to complete the mold. This article will explain opening the mold, the pouring of the latex casting materials, curing the mask, de-molding and trimming.
Opening the Mold
Once the second half of the mold is cured, it is time to de-mold it and clean out any residual clay. First, locate the line where the two halves meet and with a putty or palette knife carefully pry the two halves apart. Be careful not to chip the edges as you do so. It is common to have some of the model’s clay stick to the inside of the plaster mold. This must be removed. An old toothbrush and dish washing liquid is suitable for this purpose. You can wash the inside of the mold in the sink. But after washing, the mold must be dried overnight so that the inside surface is dry.
Assuring that the inside surface is dry, put the two halves back together. You can see why the mold keys are important now. As the keys allow you to fit the mold halves together in perfect alignment. If you have mold straps you can use them to secure the two halves together. If not, duct tape will do nicely.
Pouring the Mask Making Latex
Now it is time to fill your mold with mask making latex. The mold must be kept upright for this step with the neck facing toward the ceiling. An empty 5-gallon bucket is the perfect choice for this purpose. Place the mold in the bucket and using rolled newspaper around it, position it so it is plum and level in the bucket.
Using a chip brush, paint the inside surface of your mold with one coat of latex. If you can’t reach all the way inside, you can tape the brush to a paint stirrer or similar extension, to provide a longer reach. The painting step is critical as this is the surface that will be seen. Deep indentations such as ears and nose tips should be carefully treated so that the latex fully enters those areas for good coverage.
After you are certain that you have fully painted the inside surface of the mold, fill it to the top with the liquid mask making latex by slowing pouring it in until it reaches the top edges of the mold. Leave the liquid undisturbed for 45-60-minutes and then carefully pour it back into is original container. Often you may achieve better results by slush casting or rolling the latex around in the mold before you pour the excess out. What is left behind is a wet skin on the surface of the mold that over 12-18 hours will cure to an off-white stretchy rubber. You can hasten the cure time with added heat or a fan blowing across the surface. Humidity slows cure time.
De-molding the Mask
After an overnight wait, the rubber mask should be ready to be de-molded. You can tell it is ready if it is pulling away from the side of the mold as latex shrinks when it has cured. Touch the inside surface to make certain there are no wet spots. If there are, then give it more time to set. When you are certain it is ready shake talc powder inside they mask and using a dry chip brush spread it around the surfaces. The talc powder will prevent the newly cured surfaces from sticking during the de-molding process.
Remove the mold straps or the duct tape and ever so carefully open the mold to extract the mask. You should have a Styrofoam head form at the ready to place it on when it is removed from the mold to keep its shape.
The mask will require the removal of the flashing – excess rubber. You can use a sharp scissors or a craft knife to carefully remove any waste. Use the scissors to cut open the eyes, nostrils and mouth areas. Once this is accomplished your mask is ready to paint and finish.
Part 4 of Creating a Full Head Latex Mask will describe the best methods of painting and finishing.