When I was a senior in high school (around October of 2014) I was assigned a task by my design teacher Joe Loring to make a mask. This was meant to be in the spirit of Halloween and all that jazz. He went through the rigamarolls of showing people how to do paper-mache and demonstrating popular designs, and all kinds of stuff.
I decided from the get go that I wanted to do the mask from Dishonored, in which the protagonist Corvo Attano is given this skeletal clockwork-y thing to hide his identity. Now, I’m no master craftsman or grand prop designer, but I took a good crack at it with some sketches, a few plans, and an idea. I’m totally in love with the game and it’s plotlines and its lore and everything, so this project meant a lot for me to do it as right as I could.
The classroom we had was full of things we needed to complete this assignment. What I came to rely on most was cheap mechanical wire to mend the pieces of my mask’s frame together.
The frame was always going to be a fencing helmet I used to own. I tore through that thing with some wanton abandon to get the raw plates I’d need
The frame was always going to be a fencing helmet I used to own. I tore through that thing with some wire cutters to get the raw plates I’d need to get a foundation going. From then I bent it up and marked the places the other parts I’d need to cut out. It took shape really fast once I spliced it together with some mechanical wire.
Notice the shitty wire running along the backside. Doesn’t that wire look sharp? Yeah, that was my first idea for a strap. My favorite part of this step was the copper wire that I was able to put along the mandible pieces. It became a structural component on the left side.
I selfied this after getting some black cloth for the front of the mask to hide my hideous, hideous face. Notice the lack of eyeholes at this point, though they are still marked.
I took a lot of pictures during production to keep track of how I had hooked everything together. This picture above is focusing on how I anchored the black cloth to the inside of the mask. A lot of the time I would have to take apart entire pieces of the mask to put other pieces on. I didn’t have a step-by-step process exactly, but it formed as I went along so I didn’t worry very much. I believe that center piece of wire mesh was meant to be a nose plate, not letting the tip of my nose poke out from the mask like some kind of skeleton nipple.
Now we’re looking serious, aren’t we? I filled the tape in to get a good idea of where I’d have to cut out the eyeholes. Initially, I was going to use my school’s S.T.E.M. room to drill through the mask, hence the small hole on the right eye. The drill didn’t play very well with uneven mesh, and I had to take it back to the art room and figure out how I’d go about it. The black cloth has been removed here to take care of the next step in the process.
Whoa, hey, SIGNIFICANT improvement in quality, huh? I eventually said “to hell with it” and ripped into the outlines of the eyes with tin snips. I went a little overboard on the right eye and added the copper wire there to cover it up some. Also, burlap. Lots of burlap. The original mask is designed with steel plates that don’t really have a backdrop, so I knew I needed a light color to make the black mesh stand out. Burlap was available and plentiful, so I went with that. In retrospect, it looks a little bit like a scarecrow thing.
A picture of the back, again illustrating how the burlap is fastened and revealing the improved nose plate.
Readded the black cloth over the burlap for a more comfortable wear, also covering the nose plate and cutting off an outside viewer’s ability to see skin through the burlap.
I decided to go back and add more plating since I had leftover mesh. This piece went behind the mandible and down to the bottom of the mask (as seen from the exterior). The design process at this point was “I would like this mask to stand up to a volley of airsoft pellets and be active armor for the user”. Not that I’d ever, EVER use it like that, but it was a good idea to do so. It made the mask weightier and able to stand up to some punishment.
Keeping with the ‘light armor’ theme, I used a sharpie to measure a plate to hide and protect the eyes from outside influence.
Setting the eye protection in place. Notice how this piece is set on top of the black cloth. I wanted this piece to be relatively removable.
Demonstrating the eye protection. For defense against all those nefarious sharpie-wielders of the world.
To make it more comfortable to wear and easier to see, I ended up taking that plate out. For the sake of simplicity, I also cut out some more of the black cloth to shape the outline of the frame’s eyes to compensate for the earlier pinhole eyes I had originally cut out.
The mask, with excess burlap and black cloth intact.
The back of the mask, excess cloth sheared off and eye plate removed.
Front of the mask, after modifications in 2016.
I might plan on doing more with this design, and in fact I’d love to. Do stuff like actually put lenses in the eyeholes for viewing through, or glass at least. I’d also like to remove all the cloth and paint the mesh chrome maybe. But those are all just maybes.
That’s for future me, though. Present me has officially retired this project, though it was tons of fun. I have plenty of NSFW pictures of how cut up my hands and fingers got from working with all that sharp wire, and I’ve put hours upon hours into it.
In the end, I’m quite happy with it. I liked the whole process, and for once didn’t lose focus on a long term project.
But I don’t remember what grade I got on it.