Masks are usually worn at parties and other festivities, so wearing one should add to the fun! I believe that after spending time and effort creating a mask, it shouldn’t restrict your enjoyment or, worse still, be uncomfortable. Designers have to find the balance between great shape and functionality, and ultimately create a template that is easy to make.
My designs are made with the wearer in mind. They are meant to be worn and enjoyed at an event for several hours. Of course, there are some people who have the willpower to keep their outfit intact and their mask on no matter what - but if you are not one of them, make sure you will be as comfortable as possible.
So how would you know if a design is going to be comfortable? Here are some things to consider, so you can keep your mask on and show off your creation!
Masks usually fall into three categories: half face; full-face; and full head.
Full head masks don’t normally require a string to hold them in front of your face as they fit like a helmet, though sometimes they may require a way to stop them from bobbing around your head. They inevitably take more time to make, but they can be very impressive and effective in concealing the wearer. However, it can quickly get hot inside a full head mask and it can feel quite restrictive, which is definitely worth considering if you plan to be in it for a long time.Half and full-face masks will certainly feel lighter and more comfortable to wear for longer periods, plus they can usually be propped up on your head for a bit, if you need a break. A smaller mask, will also take a lot less time and material to make. It is also unlikely that a half or full-face mask will not fit well, whereas a full head mask is possible to be too big or too small.
The position of the eyeholes on the mask is critical! If the eyeholes are not big enough, or if they aren’t properly aligned with the eyes of the wearer, it will be hard to see where you’re going. This can be an issue, particularly with big animal head masks, where the eyes will be positioned on either side of the head (as is the case with most animals!), as well as with some more avant-garde designs.Animal masks may also have quite long muzzles, which can restrict your field of view, especially walking down stairs, which is why it is crucial to have well positioned eyeholes!
To mouth or not to mouth
Full face and full head masks may or may not have an opening for the mouth. This is primarily determined by the design, but you should consider the mouth opening if you want to be able to socialise, talk to people or have a drink (at the very least using a straw), while wearing your mask.
And if there is no opening, the area around the mouth will very quickly become wet from moisture in your breath. No one likes a soggy paper mask!
A paper mask is lightweight and therefore it will not weigh down on your face or head. Beware though if you are planning to decorate your mask by sticking lots of things on it, especially rhinestones, mirrored pieces or heavy fabric. This can easily add just enough weight for the mask to start digging into your skin making it uncomfortable to wear.
Try your mask for some time at home, before you wear it out to make sure there are no uncomfortable parts. If you identify any, then pad them with something soft, like a bit of scrunched up paper tissue or a piece of sponge. You should also be able to make small adjustments to the mask, if it is too tight. Ask the designer, if you need advice.
Paper and cardstock are versatile and readily available materials and therefore they are great for making masks without the need for special skills or tools. The downside is that a paper mask is not particularly sturdy and even thicker card can easily be crushed or affected by moisture. You can’t easily pack a paper mask in your suitcase once you have made it, but you can assemble the pieces at your destination instead.
There are several ways to reinforce a paper mask by using lots of sticky tape on the inside of the mask or even on the outside, as part of its decoration. There are resins and polymers you can carefully apply to the mask to make it much sturdier, but that may involve a bit of trial and error with uncertain results. Some mask templates can be used to make them out of other materials, like plastic or wood, but this most certainly requires special skills and tools and may result in masks that are uncomfortable to wear because of the weight and stiffness of the material used.
A well-made paper mask with some extra sticky tape for additional strength and protection against moisture and sweat, will last the whole night at a party and if you give some thought to all the considerations above, you will have a great time wearing it!
Let your creativity go wild and have fun!