Matrices Mask

          Here's the step-by-step processes I took to create my very own mask modeled after none other than my character, Matrices! The original construction starts here at the top, and below that is the "updated" mask which I revamped about a year later. The details of the revamp are included near the bottom of this page. :3

 I started by cutting strips of "plastic canvas" mesh, and I sewed them together with bits of yarn to keep them in place.
 I started adding more pieces of plastic canvas to form a shape which could fit my head.
 The muzzle was added low enough for me to see over it and I sewed on pieces of plastic canvas to form the roof of the mouth.
 The jaw was added and held in place by four brads and two rubber bands. This may sound flimsy, but I hot glued each of them in place. 
 I also added a piece of balsa wood to rest underneath my chin, so when I spoke, my chin would push the jaw down and the mouth open.
 The next thing I added were the ears. I wanted them to be able to 'perk' up, so I figured out a way using string which goes through a 'track' of safety pins and between the plastic canvas. This was just the basic setup.
 As you can see, all I have to do to perk up the ears, was pull straight down on the string. The ears are held on by a screw through the balsa wood and two rubber bands. I later replaced the black yarn with nylon cord.

Here is a badly drawn diagram (hopefully) better detailing how I did the ear mechanism.

After I figured out the ears, I began adding foam, using hot glue, to give the mask some shape. 

A lot of people have asked me what sort of foam I used. Well, its called "Poly Foam" it comes in a roll and you can buy it by the yard. This is what it looks like in the packaging.

 I only wanted enough foam to hold its shape. I tried to keep the mask as light as possible. 
 Here you can see I began adding the faux fur and the nose. I used black vinyl for the nose, I had to sew part of it in place, since the hot glue wouldn't stick to the vinyl.
 Here's a better view with the mouth opened. 
 The chin, the forehead and the ears were the hardest parts to cover with fur. Since the forehead has Matrices' blaze. I cut a small scrap of white faux fur, and sewed it together carefully. 
 Here you can see it with the forehead covered in fur. The muzzle and rest of the head was easy, then I had to worry about the ears. I finally settled on keeping them separate from the head, so they could move and bounce around freely, although I ran the risk of them getting pulled off (although that hasn't happened yet!).
 My father had suggested that I put a fan in there, since it looked like it would be hot if I wore it for a while. I went down to Radio Shack and purchased a computer fan, a toggle switch, and a battery connector. I wired it together, and then mounted it to a piece of plastic canvas. I then cut the wires and soldered it together 
 Here you can see the setup inside the mask. Kind of cramped, but it works very well! I even added snaps so I could easily take the whole thing out to replace the battery, or even use in another mask!
 Once I completed adding fur to the mask, I used the leftovers for the foot paws. Here you can see that I used some inexpensive shoes and sewn on the foam to make the toes big. 
 Here is one of the shoe paws after I had finished furring it. I had used up almost every last bit of fur to do it, too. Unfortunately I didn't have access to very much of the faux fur, I had bought the last scrap off the end of the roll. I was lucky I had enough!
 Finally, I had finished the paws. I added foam toenails and trimmed the fur to show definition between the toes. I even added pink paw pads on the bottom soles of the shoes!
 And here we have the finished mask! The details inside the mouth are "fun foam" and the eyes are painted screen. 


          Since my original goal for my Matrices mask was to have it be as close to my drawings as possible. About a year after the original construction of the mask, I decided to revamp it, and give it a new, more accurate look! Keep in mind with your own masks that you can redo the parts you don't feel work with your mask. Make sure to keep a few scraps of the original fur so you can work with it later. :3

I completely redid and replaced the nose. This one is much larger and much closer to how it is in my drawings. Its made of Sculpy with vinyl glued and stretched over the top of it (I used Super 77 spray adhesive to adhere the vinyl) And then I hot glued the folds down on the inside of the nose. I also redid the inside of the mouth with felt liner over the top of the fun foam (the fun foam made a great surface to glue to), and Sculpy details, including a fresh new set of teeth! Grr!
A mistake I made with the mask was that the white blaze was reversed. So I redid her blaze to match how I draw it. Also added was new eyes. I used plastic bowls (from a storage bowl set from Kmart) and "chiffon" sheer fabric for the pupils. This is an awesome way to make eyes, and I'd recommend it for anyone planning their own masks. The irises were painted on the plastic using acrylic paint.

A nice new set of matching green goggles for her! Woo. I put a larger elastic strap on the goggles, and tied them to the mask to keep them in place. I also added some extremely adorable (but hard to see from the pictures) eyebrow whiskers. I used the cheap plastic "fiber optic" from the novelty lights, spraypainted the tips black, and attached them to my mask.

I really hope you enjoyed looking at the construction of this mask! 
For more information about my Matrices costume, click here!
  

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Sara Howard, 2005. (top)