So my first attempt to make a leather mask kinda failed spectacularly, mostly due to the bit where I tried to carve everything on the wrong side of the leather.

Then I decided it was scrap and started trying various tools out on it, and wound up gouging right through the leather a couple of times.

Then, because I still wanted to see how the whole “veggie tanned leather” thing works, I wet it down again and clipped it to a cheap-ass mask form, and damned it if didn’t turn the thing into a mask!

It’s still total crap with holes and random lines and squiggles and gouges, but something about being in the shape of a mask makes it…I don’t know…suddenly it’s a thing. I suspect it has something to do with it being a kind of face, and faces poke you in parts of the brain that you don’t really get control over.

Still. Crap piece of leather…mask. Insomuch as I understand magic, that’s it, right there. I’m kinda wowed.

My second attempt (on the right side, this time!) is drying on the form as we speak. I have done plenty wrong, and the lines are kinda irregular, but this one I will probably seal and paint. It’s a very simple shape—a couple of swoopy points on the outer edges and around the eyes—which if I were a certain sort of person, I would probably try to classify as a sylph or a spirit, but being me, I won’t.

Anybody got any suggestions on good things to seal a mask with, for acrylic paint? My inclination is to use clear gesso or matte medium, so if either of those make leather explode, now would be a good time to mention it.

  • reply Chris/Zeldaar ,

    so…having been intrigued by this process myself…where’d you learn about how to do this/procure the supplies/etc?

    • reply Eve Larkspur ,

      Well, I do this sort of thing semi-professionally, so I can give you a couple tips if you want. If you’re using acrylic, you don’t need to seal the leather at all before you paint. Just let it finish drying (a hair dryer really speeds things up nicely, and in my opinion gives you more control than using the oven like some people do) and you can start painting. Acrylic takes beautifully to leather. I usually put a coat or two of liquitex varnish over that when I’m done. I’ve tried never put clear gesso or matte medium on before painting, but as far as I know that shouldn’t hurt anything (as long as either of those things won’t crack if they’re on something flexible). I’d be curious to know how that turns out compared to painting straight on leather, so please post about your results!

      • reply Eve Larkspur ,

        *I’ve never tried putting…

        Pardon the typo. That’s what I get for not proof-reading!

        • reply StarlaFriend ,

          I’ve only painted leather bracelets before, but I just put the acrylic directly on the leather, and sealed it with some stuff called eco-flo satin sheen. No explosions. 🙂

          • reply Hawk ,

            Gesso makes leather explode! Film at eleven.

            (I have no idea, clearly.)

            I’d be interested to hear about what you come up with though. And what in the world is vegetable tanned leather? Do you stake the leather out in a field of vampire squash?

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