This mask was easily the toughest part of my male Witch Doctor costume. This was a totally new realm for me, I’d never done leather work before, and since it was made out of a solid piece of leather, with no cuts, it was simply formed over my face to get the proper shape.
I started with a template of brown craft paper, my thought was if I could make the paper fit right to my face, I could do the same with leather. This proved to be semi-true, the template worked well but was not ideally suited to the task at hand, the leather required a lot more finesse than the paper would have led me to believe.
Each of the horns was made from two pieces of a Styrofoam cylinder, carved and coated with a thin layer of plaster and then painted. They were very light weight on my head they weighed in at just under a pound.
To form the face, I soaked the mask in water, and through the use of rubber bands attaching the mask to my face (yes, really. I could not find any other forms that were close enough to my face) I allowed it to dry and it held the shape. The flaps at the side were glued in place with epoxy resin after the main mask was formed, and after I had tooled the designs on to them with the edge of a bone folder pressed into the wet leather.
We painted the mask using white acrylic paint and gold Lumiere paint. The gold paint was wonderful on the leather, and we only had to use one coat of the gold to get a nice, even color.
We decided the markings on the mask weren’t standing out much, so we went over them with a gold paint pen.
I attached another piece of leather around the horns and attached that on to the mask, as well as adding gold rings hanging from the mask with red strips of fabric hanging from the rings. The leather goes over my head to the back, where a hole was cut for the ponytail to go through, and I attached it to my head by lacing the sides of the mask to the leather strap in the back of the mask.
The gold semi circle at the top was shaped out of leather over a bowl, and then I shaped the ridges in it. I made polymer ‘teeth’ and painted them gold and put them in between the large feathers that I attached. The feathers were peacock feathers that were trimmed to look like a flight feather, and we used RIT dye in black and boiling water to dye the tips of the feathers black.
Alot of this was trial and error but I was happy with the end results. The mask is only 2-3oz leather so it helped with the shaping and to keep the weigh to a minimum.