Thursday, September 15, 2011

Halloween isn't far off and I'm starting something new

If you didn't already know, Halloween is my favorite holiday of the year. Yes, it even trumps Christmas. For me, at least. I know a lot of people would probably be surprised by that statement, but it's true. I still can't put my finger on exactly why Halloween is my favorite holiday. I mean, there's obviously the trick-or-treating, which I am much too old for now so I just sit at home. The days get shorter, which is kind of depressing to me. I enjoy long sunny days because I feel like I can accomplish more. There are the Halloween episodes of sitcoms I enjoy. Although we're reduced to only seventeen channels on TV because I refuse to pay the cable company's exorbitant rates for hundreds of channels of shit. (BTW, what has happened to TV? Even with only seventeen channels, most of the programming is garbage: hour-long infomercials, dancing shows, talent-less talent shows, et al. Okay, I've digressed. I'll leave that for another post later where I can be a curmudgeon and rant) Schools' Halloween Carnivals featuring games and kids running around in costume having a grand time. I'm not in school any longer and we rarely go to my daughter's school unless we're there to watch her band performance or some other activity she is involved with. Besides, I don't think her high school even has any Halloween event. These are things that come to mind when I think of Halloween. You might be asking yourself, why do I love Halloween if none of those things seem enjoyable to me?

Well, the answer is: that is not everything I think of when Halloween rolls around. In addition, I must say that the aforementioned are things I enjoyed as a kid, things that can't quite be recaptured but they stick with me to this day. Of course, there are also haunted house attractions to visit and I thoroughly love that! Mainly, I think there is something in the air this time of year that gets my mojo flowing. Maybe it's just the ushering in of fall. Fall is also my favorite time of year, when the trees begin changing and the Georgia heat begins to subside. I also find that when Halloween approaches, I become more active with my writing and creative endeavors. For instance, this year I've started to make silicone Halloween masks. Growing up, I was always captivated by the latex monster masks stores would put on display this time of year. They were always too expensive for me to purchase though. As a kid, no matter how cool the masks were, I couldn't convince myself to save that much money, let alone part with it for a single mask. There was always something better looming around the corner that I spent my money on. So, I never ended up purchasing one of those ghoulish masks that can easily be found at Party Cities, Halloween Expresses, and Spencers.

Recently, I visited a few websites that sell silicone masks. The masks are top-notch quality and fit so well that the mask moves with your facial expressions. Instead of spending hours trying to get a latex special effects appliance to fit on your face, transforming you into some ghoulish creature, you can simply slip the mask on and become what you want. Of course, these masks aren't cheap. The prices range anywhere from one hundred dollar to five or even eight hundred dollars. You definitely get what you pay for, so you can imagine how silly the cheaper masks look compared to the more expensive masks. Last year, I managed to purchase two pairs of prescription theatrical contact lenses that I wanted to use this year. I picked a silicone mask that was an evil clown and waited before making the purchase. In that time, I managed to talk myself out of parting with five hundred dollars for the mask. What if I wanted to be something different the next year? Hell, I'd be stuck with the clown mask and out half a grand. It just didn't seem practical even though the mask does look super awesome.

I did some research and found some people making their own silicone masks. There were even tutorial videos that some teens had posted on YouTube. I looked into the supplies needed to create the masks, etc. It was cheaper than the single mask I was prepared to buy. Not to mention, I could create whatever I could dream up. I could be an evil clown this year, next year, I could be a rotting corpse, or whatever. So, I took the leap and bought a gallon of Dragon Skin FX Pro silicone, eight pounds of modeling clay, an armature, buckets of plaster, and various solvents needed. I commandeered my wife's dance studio and shut myself away to create a half-face mask.

I learned a lot from the process of creating that mask. The first lesson, don't use silicone for a half-mask; it's much too flimsy. Next time, when creating a half-mask, I'll use either latex or a urethane rubber. Even though that first mask was unusable, I still have it as a keepsake. It feels and looks just like human skin and is very pliable. I was lucky enough to have mixed the coloring pigments just right. I felt it was time to try my hand at a full-head mask, just like the one I was thinking of buying. I molded the clay on my armature, built retaining walls, poured the plaster, and demolded it. Unfortunately, the plaster molds cracked during the demolding process. I had purchased the wrong type of plaster, a plaster that was not hard enough for creating mask molds. Fortunately, my sculpture came out with very minimal damage and I was able to repair it. I've since ordered some Ultracal 30 gypsum cement to create my mold.

Until then, I am trying to edit my hit man novel that is nearing the editorial phase. I hope to have it out soon. While my favorite holiday is fast approaching and I'm getting excited about making scary masks, I don't want to take my eye off the prize and let my novel languish. So, if you're interested in mask making or scary monster masks in general, check back often to see my progress. I promise to post pictures of my creations. Thanks for stopping by.

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