Dragon Mask in progress

This is a project I want to share that, while perhaps embarrassing to admit this level of nerdery, is challenging and fun. I'm developing a black dragon costume to wear for Halloween and possibly Dragon*Con 2013 (ahhh DragonCon /nostalgia). It is much like my gold Smaug dragon costume two years ago, but since then I have learned so much about costuming and seen so many inspirational costumes of all types that I wanted to revisit it.

One thing I've been learning is the difference between wearing a costume and costuming. I love Halloween, and love to dress up to celebrate. But wearing a costume for Halloween- even one I made myself- was no where near the time, effort, research, and technique I have seen go into costuming. And don't get me wrong: I don't fancy myself a costumer. The skill and creativity I've seen some people display is awe-inspiring, and I know my skills are not at that level. But it is fun to learn about the techniques.

Another thing I've learned: Face Off. If you're even remotely crafty and interested in special effects in movies, check it out. It's reality TV but very minimal on the drama, and maximal(1) on the art. Addictive.

Anyway, dragon mask.

I started with a basic plain white face mask from Michaels.

Creepy, no?

Sketched some guiding lines loosely based on miscellaneous dragon art, and cut off the jaw-area part of the mask so that I can talk/breathe/drink boozes.

And then started molding. I tried Crayola's Model Magic, mostly because a package happened to be hanging directly in front of my face as I was shopping at Michael's. It is really soft, and stays a little squishy even when fully dry. However, it is also really light, which makes it great for forming the structural base of the face. That rhymed.

Yes I know, it looks like a duck. Bear(2) with me. 

For these small spines and horns, I used Sculpey clay and baked it to hardness. Sculpey is good for fine details, and hardens with some natural shine. The Model Magic air clay is very matte.

The primer I used on the mask is flat black, despite looking silver here. I gently removed all of the clay pieces before priming, being sure not to lose the shape of the clay, and then used simple Super Glue to put them back in place permanently.

After all of the pieces were dried and glued in place, I worked on the horns and texture. The horns are store-bought and I made bases for them to rest in using a wet clay that air-hardens. I forget what it's called. Mostly because it was 1) super messy, 2) broke into semi-dried chunks as I worked it, and 3) is like a rock when it hardens. Each base is hard and heavy. I will probably toss them and replicate them with the Model Magic clay.

To get a really nice scaly-hide texture, I used Make It Stone from Krylon as a base, and then covered it with Oil Rubbed Bronze brushed metallic spraypaint, also from Krylon. You can see here that I used the jaw-area from the face mask (mentioned above) to also make a lower jaw for the mask. I don't know if I will wear it, but if so, it will match.

Then I used the Sculpey spines (pictured above) and duct tape to make side wings for the face.

And that is where it stands today, with two weeks left until Halloween (and only a few days until the first party). 

(1)Turns out that is actually a word, not just one that I made up.
(2)Little-known grammatical pet peeve: when people type "Bare with me." They should at least buy me a drink first.