I had a crazy idea to make a bunch of Princess Masks this past weekend. Little did I know, we were about to get an epic thunderstorm that would knock out our power for four whole days! Of course, by the time that happened, I'd already committed to making the masks and the show must go on, as they say! It actually turned out to be a great project for wiling away the long hours without electricity. And it gave me the excuse to pick up a wireless battery operated glue-gun, which I found to be far superior to regular glue guns that always tip over because their cords get in the way or are too short or are generally just a nuisance.
I was inspired for this project by the upcoming Villain's Sinister Soiree, a dessert party being held as part of Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween party this year. I'm not attending, but I know someone who is... which got me thinking "What do you wear to an event with so many characters and look good in all the pictures?" This has been on my mind since our last trip when we had dinner at Cinderella's Royal table, and because we've planned several multi-character meals for our upcoming trip. Viola and Eva went dressed as Cinderella to Cinderella's Royal Table, of course, but then they looked odd (in my opinion) in the photos with all the other princesses, so I'm leaning toward having them wear a non-princess dress on the next trip so that all the princess photos will look nice. This was also an issue for us when taking pictures at the Princess Fairytale Hall because there are two characters and you can only dress up as one, so the other photo looks odd... (This might not be as important to everyone else, but my girls like to have the matchy-matchy photos.)
Then, I had this spontaneous idea: What if it wasn't a costume, but some sort of accessory that could be swapped out quickly and not take up too much space if you were carrying multiple of them, like aprons or a hats or masks?
I was pretty excited when I came across this image of Rapunzel and her coordinating masquerade mask by wdw girl (which looks to have been taken in Princess Fairytale Hall):
So I decided to give mask making a try---- a soiree is the perfect place for traditional masquerade masks after all, don't you think? So fancy! :-)
The best part of the project (aside from the new glue gun) was that my good friend Allison (who helped with last years' Crayon hats) came over to help! Crafting is so much better with a buddy! And, much like with the Crayon hats, we didn't have a grand plan in the beginning--- or, really, at any point in the weekend. Each mask was the result of trial, error, experimentation and collaborative back-and-forth ("What do you think of this?" / "How about that ribbon over here?" / "What should I do about this edge"?) We both work in digital jobs and agreed that doing a tangible craft project is a nice exercise after a week of pushing pixels around on a computer screen. I certainly couldn't make a habit of it (so, before you ask, no I'm not opening an Etsy store and no, you can't order masks from me), but it makes for a really nice change of pace to work with my hands for a few days. I mean, I always work with my hands but... well, you get the idea, right?
The raw material for the masks consisted of leftovers from last years' Halloween Crayon Hats that were still lingering in my craftroom, as well as other odds and ends we had on hand like cheap promotional plastic Maleficent horns from our local movie theater, some foam apples from the girls' play kitchen, and scraps of feather boas that have been hanging around since last halloween. I bought blank plastic masks from Micheals for about $.99each, and a few pre-sequened ones for $2.99, as well as a bag of mixed plastic gems ($7.00).
We spread all the materials out across my kitchen table and buffet and then just started gluing/painting/glittering/bejeweling. The characters we were initially targeting were those for the Villain's Sinister Soiree. That list included: The Tremaine Family (Anastasia, Drizella, Lady Tremaine), Captain Hook, Judge Frollo, the Queen of Hearts, Maleficent, Cruella De Ville, the Evil Queen (from Snow White), and Dr. Facilier. The traditional characters were also up-for-grabs as possible candidates (Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, the Frozen sisters, Tiana, Ariel, etc.). About halfway through the project I heard from the person who will be attending the party (whom the masks were being made for) that who they really wanted were Snow White, Jasmine, Jane (from Tarzan), and Daisy Duck (in her halloween Princess Costume), so we switched gears a little bit to make that happen. I'm glad we did, too; even though those weren't the characters I would have chosen, they ended up being my very favorite masks of the bunch (Snow White and Jane especially!)
I'll post on Wednesday with images of the finished masks, but for today I wanted to share some of the process photos we took while working. If you're looking for a halloween project or costume idea, I think masquerade masks might be where it's at!
Making these masks was really so much fun, I can't stress that enough. And, both girls were able to participate in the process. Viola is especially interested in art (despite my best effort to indoctrinate her into a financial career) and was our official fabric painter and occasional art director. Evangeline picked out the gems and sorted them into bowls by color, which is a great game for a three-year-old!
Inexplicably in the mixed bag of jewels we found a bunch of little mickey-head shaped gems; "hidden mickeys!" my daughters squealed in delight. So, each mask has it's own "hidden mickey" incorporated somewhere in the design as well.
Because of the power outage I had to stop each evening when the light through the windows became too low to work, which was an interesting limitation. Those poor craftsman in civilizations before electricity, with their tiny working days! Definitely grateful to have my artificial light back! :-)
The backsides of the masks are not pretty, to say the least, and could have benefited from a final insert to hide all the rough edges. But, alas, we were on a very tight deadline and the masks had to be in the mail first thing Monday morning in order to get to Orlando in time for the Soiree.
All things considered, I am really happy with how the masks came out and I'm excited to share the process and final designs with you! Enjoy!
The Tremaine Sisters
I'm planning on sewing Anastasia and Drizella dresses for the girls, so I happened to already have scrap fabric in the Tremaine Sisters' color schemes (from the thrift store, of course! Where else?) The pair of masks were made in essentially the same way, so that they'd be somewhat complimentary as a set, but still unique. I began with spraying the blank plastic mask with super 77 spray adhesive, and affixing fabric to the front. Then, I used hot glue to secure the edges to the back side, and around the eye holes (slit the fabric of the eyeholes with an "x" shape to create separate flaps to glue down). On the pink mask, I used paint to create an eyeshadow pattern then covered it with glitter, and then both masks were bejeweled with plastic gems in their respective color schemes.
Jane's mask presented a unique challenge in that I've never actually seen Tarzan. On top of that, I was reluctant to start the mask because once I'd seen pictures of the character I realized a sparkly confection wouldn't be fitting (and if there's not going to be sparkles, then why bother, right?) I'm very glad that I ultimately went ahead with it, though, because this ended up being one of my favorite masks. I didn't have any yellow fabric on hand, but I did have some leftover white with a delicate floral pattern that we used as a base. Viola painted this yellow using short, hard strokes to preserve the white floral design.
The sticks (handles?) on all the other masks are elaborately bedazzled, but for Jane's mask I wanted to keep the plain wood as an homage to her beige adventuring hat. I dug up scraps of violet ribbon (for Jane's tie) and lace ribbon and used those to make the bow. There was much discussion as to whether to top this off with a violet gemstone or if that would be too sparkly. In the end, we decided a pearl heart seemed to strike the right tone. And, on the other side, a pearl "hidden mickey"!
Bows, by the way, continue to be my crafting Kryptonite. No matter how many youtube tutorials I watch, I can't figure them out and end up just bunching them together and hoping no one looks too closely. I think the bow might have taken longer to tie than the whole rest of the mask!
Jasmine's mask was also painted, but I made a bit of an error. I had Viola paint the mask using teal paint leftover from my teal halloween hat. Then, I covered this with a coat of super 77 spray adhesive to hold on a layer of glitter. The final finish was really pretty. But, when I started adding jewels I found out the hard way that this approach had created a sort of vinyl covering. Every time I had to remove a jewel or reposition it, it peeled off big chunks of the finish. I touched these up as best I could, but next time I would always use a layer of fabric as the base and not paint directly on to the blank plastic mask. Lesson learned!
On Cruella's mask I'd originally had black feathers running down the stick, but then the next day decided it was too many feathers, peeled them off, and replaced them with a rhinestone ribbon. (I figured Cruella would wear all the bling she could to a party to compliment her pu-pay coat, after all!) When I got around to Jasmine's mask I returned to this idea of a feathered stick and added two teal bows and gems, reminiscent of her signature hair do. I had wanted to add ribbon with dangly bangles like the face character wears in the parks (across her midriff) but wasn't able to find such at Micheals and didn't have time to drive out to a fabric store. I ended up going with loops of multi-color beads instead which I think still captures the effect. (Not a lot of process photos for this one, stay tuned for Wednesday's final images!) :-)
Cruella de Vil
Cruella's mask was pretty straightforward. I saw the sequined black and white mask at the craftstore and knew I had to use that as the base! From there, I just added a poof of white and a poof of black feathers, and a bright red "beauty mark" hidden mickey above the eye and - voila!- I was done. At first I had the black feathers trailing down the stick handle, but on day two I decided that a rhinestone ribbon would work better. Not a lot of process photos to share for this one, either, but I wanted you to see the early photo with the extra feathers. I think that this effect works much better for Jasmine's mask than Cruellas anyway, don't you?
Snow White was the other mask I was hesitant to make, but which ultimately turned out to be not only one of my favorites but objectively probably the prettiest mask of the bunch! I started out with the same white fabric base I'd used for Jane's mask. This time, I wanted to keep a significant portion of the white untouched (you know, for her skin as white as snow and all!) I added yellow to the top, which I covered with glitter. This served as both a crown, but also simply to represent the signature yellow of her dress. I added blue below this to accent the eyes, and then a smattering of blue, red, and yellow gemstone patterns. Because I was working with contrasting colors this time, I tried to plan out the patterns a bit more beforehand. (Of course, none of them ended up looking the way I'd "planned" anyway.)
The stick was painted blue and covered with the same glitter as the mask, then the gold cord that I bought to edge the crown section I used to wrap over the blue. At the top of the stick is the signature apple. You'll see that I included an apple on the Evil Queen's mask as well. On Snow's mask it's at the top of the stick, closer to the mouth, and I also chose to leave the apple un-sparkled (whereas the Queen's I sparkled red) as a nod to Snow White's innocence and to make it more of an "edible" looking detail.
I also added Snow's signature bow to the "crown" and a multi-color bow with long streamers glued right below the apple. I thought that having the apple "sit" on the bow helped make it seem less like it was floating, and helped to tie the whole thing together.
But, bows, man. Seriously. They're impossible!!!
The Evil Queen (from Snow White)
For the Evil Queen's mask, I absolutely had to have the signature apple. I found some foam apples that worked perfectly. I cut a hole through the apple for the stick. For the Evil Queen, I covered the apple in red glitter and painted the stem an unnatural green. I positioned the applied near the bottom of the stick so that when you are holding the mask, the apple is balanced at the top of your fist as if you are holding it in your hand.
The Evil Queen actually has quite a substantial crown, and the answer for that came from the clearance holiday floral/leaf section of the craftstore. I'm not really sure what these are meant for (centerpieces?) but they make great faux crowns! The blank plastic mask I covered in a black textured fabric that I had scraps of (from yet another in-the-works sewing project!) and I added jewels to the gold leaf/crown and the mask in red and purple.
The next morning I couldn't help but feel like something was missing on this mask. I went back to the images of the Evil Queen and decided that I just hadn't captured her very strong black/purple presence. So, I revisited an earlier rejected idea of filling the crown in with the same black/purple feathers I was using for the Maleficent mask. This helped to fill in the space between the gold fronds of the "crown" and make it feel more substantial. I had to add some fabric to the back to keep the feathers out of the wearers eyes, though!
We were given these plastic Maleficent horns at the opening of our local Disney store a few months back. They're flimsy plastic and they don't really stay on the head well and they're very, very shiny. But, the girls love taking turns being the bad guy. We ended up with three pair, and so I "indefinitely borrowed" one set for the Maleficent mask. I'd found a purplish satin mask at the craft store that was covered in black lace that I'd thought would work well. So, for this mask all I needed to do was hot glue the horns to the mask, then add a black-and-purple rose and feathers to the side and - voila! - done. Easy peasy lemon squeezy, as they say in my daughter's preschool class. We rubbed black gauche on the plastic horns to make them look less plastic-y. Then, Allison went back and added some paint to the molded jewel line to make that feature pop, but no gemstones on this one. We figured that Maleficent wouldn't be big on gems or glitter per se.
Last but not least, was a mask for Daisy Duck in her Halloween Princess Costume, which is blue and gold. Unfortunately, I don't have any process images for this one. Like Maleficent and Cruella, the base was a pre-sequined mask that I embellished with gemstones and feathers. I'd actually bought the mask thinking it might be a Cinderella mask, but decided it would work well for Daisy once I saw some photos of her halloween costume. I had white and baby blue ribbon in my craft box already. This time, I made Allison do the bow because by then I was entirely bow-ed out! She also added a puff of white feathers to make it more "duck-y". I hope Daisy will like it!
We ended up with nine finished masks to send down to our friends in Orlando. I will have higher quality images of the finished masks on Wednesday, once I get caught up on all the things we couldn't do because of the power outage this weekend. I hope you will check back in a few days to see them in all their finished fancifulness! In the meantime, here is a sneak peak: