Saturday, June 14, 2014

Using your handmade masks - tips and tricks

Well hello there, as promised, a follow up post to the last tutorial I did on making your own masks! Took a bit longer to post this as usual as I haven't had much time to really sit in front of the computer but here it is! (Better late than never right ;))

There will be 3 tips for you today: choosing the right media, keeping your masks in the same spot, and cleaning up.

Choosing the right media
In the last post I mentioned that you would probably want to use a media that has minimal water content. Here's why: remember that these masks are made from paper that are covered with waterproof clear tape on the top; this means that the side edges of the masks are left uncovered by clear tape. So if you were to use a media with high water content such as ink sprays, the water from the media will seep under the clear tape, wicked in through the paper. This will weaken the masks, even if they were to dry out eventually.

So a short idea of what you should and should not use:
Yes - acrylic paint, colour pencils, pastel, crayons
No - watercolours, ink sprays

So what if you really have to use media with high water content. I have 2 ideas for you. The first to coat it with a layer of acrylic paint first, making sure to cover up all the exposed paper of the mask. Once it dries, acrylic paint is not rewetable and so will not stain any future projects. The second is to coat it with a layer of PVA glue or Mod Podge (note: Mod Podge stays a little tacky after it dries). Like the acrylic paint, glue is not rewetable after it dries and so will not stick to your future projects. Both methods will be fine, considering that the medium in acrylic paint is actually glue. It just depends on whether you prefer a clear finish with the glue, or opaque coloured finish with the acrylic paint.

Keeping your masks at the same spot
When using your masks, you would want them to stay at the same spot while working with it. You could use your hands to keep them fixed to the surface, but that might be difficult to achieve especially if the mask is pretty large. What you can do is to stick a rolled up low tack tape to the bottom side of the mask while you are working with it. Some examples of such tape would be masking tape, washi tape, removable tape, magic tape and painter's tape. You would want to test the tape out before adhering to your project, to check that the tape can be removed cleanly from the material you are working on.

Cleaning up
So you are now done with using your stencils and want to make sure that your mask is clean for the next use. Are you going to reach for your trusty baby wipes to clean it up? Well here's the thing, baby wipes is a definite no no for your handmade stencils!

As with the case of using high water content media, baby wipes are wet and hence content water. Using them will only cause water to seep into your masks. So what to do? If you are using dry media well hey, there's nothing to clean up right? For acrylic paints, I strongly recommend that you just leave it on your masks to dry - it makes your masks stronger and sturdier and saves you the effort to clean up. That's just killing 2 birds with one stone ;)

If you are using the high water content media after taking the step to waterproof your whole mask, then reach for your baby wipes and clean it. Leaving them on your masks will stain your next project once they are wetted again, and I'm sure you won't want that.

Well folks, that is it for the tips I have for you today. Let me know what you think and hope you have fun with your masks!

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