Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Success and Failure on its Face

So Friday night (3/15/2013) was the Repo! The Genetic Opera / The Devil's Carnival double bill in Foxboro, Massachusetts. This is my third time meeting the guys having already been to both the original Devil's Carnival tour as well as the encore tour. However, this was my first time seeing Repo! The Genetic Opera with them in a theater. I was late on that bandwagon. But because I love both films so much... I decided to go above and beyond the call of the "wild" fangirls and fanboys and do a costume for one of the more popular characters: Pavi Largo. If you need a reminder of this character, find my post titled "Facing Adversity" in the sidebar.

Having arrived at the Orpheum theater and mask freshly applied

The event was amazing, and I picked up a good amount of merchandise (all the Hail vs Testify posters, signed Ringmaster Poster, an extra Hail/Testify poster for the maker of my pants for the costume, and a Testify beanie for the maker of my sparkly scarf). I wanted to get my Ringmaster TDC Bluray signed, but, unfortunately, there was no official signing session, but I got some awesome pictures with the guys!

I said that we should take a picture of us all looking in the mirror, and suddenly I have a Terrance and Saar head near me <3

As "normal" an image that could be achieved here

So the event began with our premature entrance into the theater thanks to our Ringmaster tickets. We got first pick at the Merch table and then got to take pictures with the guys, which are posted above. I spoke with them briefly before moving on and taking my seat, but I was thanked several times by Terrance for making myself present to this show as well as the others. I also got to surprise those in front of me in line with my impression of Pavi. "My Brother and Sister should Fuck!"

So we got a treat with an informal and personal Q&A, where we were told of a very interesting altercation between Darren and Paul Sorvino. But it wasn't long before it was over and the rest of the attendees were allowed entrance. We were allowed a special view of Emilie Autumn's new video that Darren directed for Fight Like A Girl, a song which I just purchased as I write this. As not a big fan of Autumn, it was pretty awesome to see this.

Then we watched TDC and were influenced to sing along and shout at the movie itself. Afterward, we got another Q&A and got a sneak peek/taste of a new song from TDC2, as performed by Saar and Terrance. And then Repo! The Genetic Opera started playing after a ten minute intermission. This was really amazing as members of the RKO shadowcast began to perform for us. 

Overall, it was one, fucking incredible night. But a lot of people were impressed with my costume, and curious about the processes I took to make it. So I'll share.

Creating the Face

First, my plan was to use Alginate, which is a material makeup artists and dentists have been using to make molds of body parts such as faces, teeth, limbs, or even the full head. It is a time-sensitive powder that, once it is mixed with water, your time to get everything applied and set is extremely limited; five minutes, to be precise. 

This was the kit I ordered: Face Casting Kit.

The box of materials

Inside the Kit there are 2 bags of Alginate powder; a black "poncho"; a mixing tub; a popsicle stick and tongue depressors; plentiful plaster bandages; two bags of Liquistone Gypsom cement powder; small amounts of clay, Cholesterol Hair Conditioner, and more LiquiStone in order to fill any holes; and finally I shelled out an extra fifteen bucks for the instructional DVD to teach the process. I would strongly recommend this DVD, because even with it, I needed the backup bag of alginate. 

All the materials strewn across the table on "game day."

So. I had all my materials. But I needed a face. And it is rather difficult to ask to borrow a face. Even a friend I rely on often for random projects was uncomfortable with having their face casted for 20 minutes to a half an hour. And what made it even more difficult was my desire to remain accurate to the character and use a woman's face. But I did eventually find someone, who I had previously met, coincidentally, through The Devil's Carnival.

RL seated about fifteen minutes into the process

The cast of her face

The Cholesterol Hair Conditioner goes into the eyebrows and eyelashes to prevent the cast from hardening around them. HOWEVER, this is merely a precautionary measure. Alginate's grip is not too tight on the individual.

If you order this casting kit, again, GET THE DVD. I'm not going to explain everything for you. But what I will explain is that DO NOT WAIT TO USE THE ALGINATE FOR ITS INTENDED PURPOSES. The mold is meant to be moist. If you wait, it will grow dry and WILL crack. Unfortunately, I did not pour the liquistone immediately and had to constantly keep the air around it humid. I wrapped the cast in a wet facecloth and had to keep wetting it.

Now, there were cracks and holes in the mold because it dried and I wanted to cover the clay (which was provided for the purpose of plugging the nose). So I used some Liquid Latex (normal grade) to mend these tears and inconsistencies before I took a pour. So I made a quick patch and waited for drying which, because of the architecture of the mask, the nose took until the next day to dry.

But the next evening was tough for a few reasons: I was constantly aware of the fast-approaching deadline and the smell. I had ordered a large container of  RD-407 Mask Making grade liquid latex. If you have ever worked with liquid latex, you are familiar with the putrid scent that it carries. Well, rest assured, the Mask Grade stuff is even worse. Not only is there the bad fish smell that you've come to love, but there is also a pungent and brutal odor of a mix of furniture polish and polyurethane.

So I poured in this nasty smell into the alginate cast CAREFULLY. I made sure it filled the cast and used my finger to burst any air bubbles that may have formed between latex and alginate so there are no holes in the mask. I let this pool of liquid latex sit for half an hour and made sure there was latex buildup on all surfaces. Believe me, the stench was absolutely ludicrous. It's like Hoth here and I had my door and windows wide open to get the smell out of the room. If I had any sense of temperature, i would have been bundled up for snow. After that half an hour was complete, the latex is poured back into the container, which leaves a film or "skin" where the latex pool was in contact with the Alginate. 

The latex "skin" after drying for a day

After a few hours of drying and spot-doctoring, it was ready to remove. however, this mold also took with it the normal liquid latex I used to fix the alginate cast as well as the clay plugs for the nostrils. So The nose was in really poor shape. Before putting against my face to map the features and test the size, I decided to use more of the mask latex to return the normal shape to the nose. I also had to paint it with the pale-skin tone liquid latex paint I purchased with the mask latex.

The mask after some nose-jobbing

However, there was a problem...

My greatest face was too small.

So the face was vastly too small to pass off effectively. After assessing the possibility of extending the edges, I decided that I would not be able to make the mask work as the features didn't line up correctly. So, with two days before the show, I was worried about the quickly approaching deadline. I had two options: attempt to recreate the LOOK of a female mask with the limited amount of makeup supplies I possess, OR I duplicate what I did with the alginate cast, but with a different mold.

I chose the second option.

A plastic mask I picked up from iParty for 5 bucks

After a speedy run to a nearby iParty, I brought back the above pictured mask. There was another goofier one that could also have worked for Pavi but it was both far too cartoony AND the features were too exaggerated which would have been even more difficult. So I bought this one and used duct tape and saran wrap to cover the holes. Unfortunately, I was too impatient and hasty to make sure all the holes were plugged properly. Not only did I BARELY have enough mask Latex to fill this mold, but the mask was both leaking and not very rigid, so when the 20 minutes (I had lowered the time) had finished, the mask warped under the weight of the liquid latex and spilled a good portion of it. After I cleaned up, I was ready to get some sleep. This was Wednesday night. This was a frustrating day, so I decided to sleep before I started to throw things. 

The next day, I woke up and the skin had dried, but the amount of latex was far too thin, to the point of being transparent. So Thursday I spent the full day layering more and more liquid latex to create a thicker skin. Because of the architecture of the mask, the really exaggerated features were causing difficulty to dry. By Friday morning, the nose and cheeks and forehead still weren't dry, so I used a hairdryer to do try and dry the remaining wet spots. While that didn't get everything perfect, it was still good enough for me to remove the mask from its plastic mold and dry the other areas. The tip of the nose, brows and chip were all still rather damp so they deformed during the removal.

Then on to painting. I decided against actually painting it skin tone as this is supposed to be a face that has been removed and has lost bloodflow and the natural color of the RD-407 was rather effective at that color. Instead, I was painting the eyebrows and lipstick look. I could have taken the time to get real paint, but i used some of my makeup, which was difficult because if I accidentally got any on my fingers, it got all over the mask.

With t-minus 2 hours until I had to start my trek, the mask was finished.

Thankfully, this costume all came together perfectly thanks to a few sales and the wonderful two friends that made two pieces of the costume (scarf and pleather pants).

The Pavi Largo "brand" sex pants my friend Stephanie (Stitch Sweetie FB Page) crafted

Arriving at the venue, I got into costume and used Spirit Gum to apply the mask. Overall, an epic night.

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1 comment:

  1. Amazing Post. I will have to try to make my own mask some time in the future