File puptcrit/puptcrit.0612, message 189

Date: Tue, 19 Dec 2006 10:06:02 EST
Subject: Re: [Puptcrit] Rhino masks

Greetings, ALL:

In response to Octorilla's question:

I did take a look at Ed's Rhino masks and had a few thoughts....about 
buckram, burlap and a material called VaraForm. 

I haven't used buckram, but have seen it used in our costume shop way back 
when. Karer Larsen might have some experience with this.

The West System epoxy is a material I used a few years back for a small 
sailboat I built. It is flexible and wondrous stuff. It never occurred to me that 
it might be used with fabric for puppets or masks. 
The only concern I would have, and Ed would have the answer, would be the 
'off-gassing' as the epoxy cured and if this had affected his actor/puppeteers in 
any way when they wore them? Some folks are more sensitive than others. 

Larry Hunt used burlap and wallpaper paste to make masks for The 7 Deadly 
Sins at O'Neill Puppetry Conference one year when he was guest artist... They 
needed to get made and dried rather quickly so that they could get into 
rehearsal.   The burlap was dipped (as I recall) into the paste and shaped
into necessary characters. They dried quite quickly. While these were sturdy 
and effective masks, they did not have the rigidity that I imagine Ed's did 
using epoxy. But they were made for the week and not long term useage. I have 
one here and it's still useable.

I've used a material called VaraForm which is like a heavy-weave buckram. 
It's a cotton base weave as I understand, with a thermo-plastic coating. When 
heated with water or hot air, it becomes extremely flexible, much like wet 
buckram and can be formed into shape. It's easy to adjust and manipulate. 

I've only used it over a form, but think it would work in a mold. It cools 
and hardens within minutes, (seconds, even) and so one must reheat it to work 
areas on a large mask. It's super light weight and comes in several mesh sizes 
and also in sheet form, one with a light fabric 'skin.' 
So far, I have no complaints. Two layers give a very durable base for any 
mask and is comfortable for the   performer. 
Some folks worry about heat distorting a finished mask or puppet. I think 
reasonable care would avoid any problems .

For what it's worth...
Fred T.

> Did you ever try a material called bukram? I think they used it for hat
> liners in the 'olden days'. It's semi ridged, you wet it and it turns to
> mush (mush as in the consistency of thin sheer silk), but then after it
> dries it is semi-ridged again.
> I played with it once. Wondering if any one else had.

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