Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ichabod: Completed

I've remade the straps, and painted them black as shown below. Let me explain why these straps were more of a challenge to design than my other steampunk masks.

After making a traditional looking plague doctor mask last year, I quickly followed it up with a steampunked version, Dr. Beulenpest. The traditional mask is rather squat, and Beulenpest is sleeker, with a longer narrower beak.

Here is the (more or less) historically correct version plague doctor mask.

This is Dr. Beulenpest. Notice the longer, narrower beak.

And here, ladies and gentlemen, is Ichabod. Longer and narrower than even Beulenpest. The only way I could slim the good doctor down further was to move the bottom of the mask from below the wearer's chin to near his mouth. Notice in the photo above the black lambskin throat cover, which hides the wearer's chin, and gives more of an avian illusion.

In order for the wearer to speak and be generally comfortable, the base of the mask must be lifted off of the mouth, and not be touching it. While my other masks rest on any part of the face and head that they touch, the Ichabod straps need to hold the mask cantilevered. And so I came up with a headband and a top strap that can be adjusted to fit securely on the head without relying on pulling back on the mask. I then simply attached the mask to the headband with rivets.

The mask is now complete, and I will list it on eBay this afternoon. I am very pleased with how it turned out, and feel that it is some of my best work. Below are a couple more shots of the finished Ichabod.

Here is the eBay listing with more photos.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ichabod: The Straps

Returning to the Ichabod, I adjusted the pattern so that the beak opening wasn't so large, and now the fit is good. Next up is making the straps.

I've made a simple one inch wide band and temporarily attach it to the mask to see how the beak will sit on the face.

That will basically work, but I need a nicer way to attach it, and I need a strap running over the head (front to back) to keep the beak cantilevered and off of the chin. Here I've added tabs to the leather mask to accomplish both things.

I've decided to make this mask white (a classical plague doctor mask color), and so I paint it with acrylic latex paint. I also finish the eye and beak hardware and attach them to the mask.

And here it is with my first attempt at the straps. I think that they are too busy, and so will simplify them before moving on. The challenge is to have it be adjustable, both circumferentially around the head, and over the top of the head.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Ronin: Respirator Gas Mask Tutorial

This tutorial is adapted from a workshop I lead at the Nova Albion Steampunk Exhibition last March in northern California. I am attempting to make this easy to follow and doable even for the novice leatherworker. The pattern pieces are all to scale, and include holes for rivets, slits for thread, holes and slits for buckles and a button stud, plus decorative openings for ventilation.

Materials and Tools needed:

2 square feet of vegetable tanned cowhide, 3-4 or 4-5 oz weight.

Awl or lacing fork

1 stitching needle (Tandy 1195)

4 pieces of 32” long waxed thread

22 medium rivets (Tandy 1373)

4 rectangle rings ¾" wide (Tandy 1137)

2 buckles ¾"

1 button stud

Hammer for setting rivets

Anvil or steel plate

Heavy shears for cutting leather

Scissors for trimming thread

Screwdriver for setting button stud

Leather dye or wood stain or shoe polish to color leather

Contact cement to glue leather

Enlarge the pattern so that the ruler marks are one inch long.


Wet these four leather pieces: Front, two cheeks and surround.
Stitch cheeks to the front with needle and waxed thread using a running stitch. Front goes on top of cheeks. Match up colors as shown on diagram, ie. green to green, pink to pink. Begin at one end from the flesh side of the leather (inside of mask). Stitch to the other end going through every hole, then turn around and come back to beginning. Tie two thread ends in a square knot on inside. Trim thread to less than ¼’. Sew the other cheek on in the same manner. After both cheeks are stitched onto front, place damp surround over mask with pointy end facing up. Take two sets of rivets (male and female) and attach the surround to the mask through the center holes, one on each side. Press rivets together with your fingers till they snap into place. Don’t hammer flat until later. The rivets will keep the parts aligned while you stitch them together. Stitch the bottom part of the surround to the mask using the same running stitch as before. Tie a square knot, then stitch top half of surround to mask. Tie off, then hammer two rivets flat. Attach two rectangle ring straps to sides of mask with two rivets each. Pointy part of strap goes up. Place four rectangle rings onto straps (one per strap) and fold straps back, aligning the rivet holes. Hand place the rivets and hammer flat.

Attach two head straps to each other using four rivets. The free ends go to outside (grain side). Take two buckle straps and attach to ends of head straps. Round end of buckle straps goes to inner holes of head straps. Hand place rivets. Place two buckles over free ends of buckle straps. Fatter end of buckle goes to outside. Place rivets through two buckle strap holes and then head strap holes. Hammer all four rivets flat. Shape mask to face and allow leather to dry.

Attach button stud with screw to left lower side strap. Mark where button stud cover goes behind button stud and attach with contact cement. Fold upper and lower side straps over rectangle rings and rivet.

The two resin canisters as shown can be purchased at my Etsy shop, or you can create your own. Mine attach to the mask using a bolt and washer. Attach two canister bolt covers to inside of mask with contact cement.

Buckle upper side straps and adjust to your head. Attach lower side strap to button stud behind your neck.

Participants at the Nova Albion workshop received a kit of most of the parts. I still have a few kits available which I am selling for $49 and include everything except dyes and contact cement.

If any part of this tutorial needs clarification please make a comment, and I will attempt make it clear.

The kits are all sold, but you can buy the resin canisters at my Etsy store.

©Tom Banwell Designs 2011