"Dude, that goalie is PISSED!"

Partially in anticipation for Slash-o-Rama, but mostly because I keep seeing these cheap masks online and the cool stuff other people have done with them, I knocked out this fun DIY project over the last couple days, and now it's all ready for my next camping trip. 

Until very recently, it seemed like the only affordable costume hockey mask you could find anywhere was something like this one. Clearly intended to invoke Jason's mask in the Friday the 13th series, but falling woefully short of actually looking much like anything from the films or NHL history. 

Now there are tons of people selling masks on ebay just like the one pictured above (or with one of several paint variations). The plastic is thin, but the mold is remarkably spot on for what was used in Friday the 13th Part 3. Prices range quite a bit -- but if you shop around you can find them for very astonishingly cheap. I paid just $2.00 for mine (shipped even!). 

Since they were so cheap, and tend to be sold by Chinese sellers with iffy descriptions and multiple disclaimers about how the actual product may differ from what is pictured, I held off on buying one for a while. But I'm glad I finally caved -- these masks look awesome and they're a great canvas to work from. 

There are a number of helpful tutorial videos on YouTube that all do some variation of the process I used. I found the ones done by "Big Hush" to be best. First step was to remove the strap (its just held on by snaps, so it goes back on easily) and give the mask a once over with light grit sandpaper to prep the surface for paint. I was leaning towards making something like the Part 3 climax/Part 4 mask, so I cut a chip in the forehead at this point too. 

One of the tips I liked from "Big Hush" was to put small balloons on the snaps to protect them from paint. You could probably do this with tape too, but I happened to have some balloons on hand and it works well. After sanding, I did a couple of layers of grey primer. Some tutorials leave out this step, and there are nice paint/primers out there so its not really necessary for adhesion. BUT I think it makes a difference when weathering as you'll see below. 

After the primer was dry and cured, I sprayed a layer of satin finish "Almond" spray paint. I think other "off white" shades would work too, but "Almond" seems to be pretty popular. Matte or satin finish would probably be preferable if you're going to do any weathering with other paint though. 

Once that layer was dry, I painted on the red chevrons. I opted to free-hand these because I felt like it would take forever to mask them off correctly, and there'd be a high likelihood of screwing it up. This way I was able to correct as I went to make sure they were symmetrical. That's just me though -- Stencils are another option.

As you can see though, you can get pretty nice results from just a couple layers of paint. You could stop at this point or just add a coat or two of clear gloss and have a very nice looking mask. But, I like a Jason that's been through the business. 

I used an exacto knife, light and medium grit sandpaper to weather up the mask. I was using the Part 4 mask as my guide, so I took half of the top and left chevrons off, exposing white plastic. You can see here what I was talking about with the primer. Using light grid sandpaper, you can control how much paint you take off and reveal both the primer and the base plastic. I think this gives the mask some nice variation in color and also helps with the illusion of depth. 

Word to the wise though, pay attention to which way you're rubbing the paper since every move will leave a mark. To emulate actual wear, it helps if scratches mostly go the same direction -- Imagine the mask was skidding against a surface instead of somebody scratching a tic tac toe board into it. 

Once I was happy with the sanding, I wiped it with a damp paper towel to get the dust off, and then did some painting. Like "Big Hush," I started with layers of browns applied with a damp rag. I did a couple of layers of light brown and tan, and tried to make them a little uneven. I used a rag for the "drips" too, and used lighter browns than what "Big Hush" does, but this is all personal preference. 

I wasn't sure what I wanted to do with the chip for a while. In the movies, that chip is the result of an axe to the noggin, and in Part 4, Jason still has a big blood stain there. I think its hard to keep a gooey blood stain looking convincing using just paint, so I was reticent to commit to trying it. And, since I'm not really concerned with making a real replica, I decided to leave the blood out (I can always slather it with stage blood later). But, that areas still needed something, so I just went heavier with the brown washes. 

With the paint dry, I gave it a heavy coat of clear gloss. This seals the paint, obviously, but also gives it a great texture. 

Like most spray stuff, multiple light coats are best. I went a little heavy, and got some puckering in a couple of spots where the clear coat got under some of the paint. I managed to get it back into shape, but it would have been avoided if I was a little more patient. 

All done and it looks great...but when I tried it on, I thought seeing my eyes distracted from the effect. In the movies, you see Jason's eyes through the mask in Parts 3 and 4, but never really again after that. 

Since he (apparently) dies at the end of Part 4, it makes some sense -- as far as any of those movies make sense -- like he's not a man at that point, but a soul-less murder machine. More importantly, though, I think the mask just looks better (and more intimidating) with black, blank eyes. 

So I took a cue from another tutorial where they blacked out the eyes with pieces of black nylon stockings.  This looks awesome -- totally blocks your eyes and doesn't even hurt visibility all that much. 

Pretty straightforward to do -- just cut squares and hot glue them in place on the underside of the mask, being sure to stretch the fabric tight as you go. Then trim the edges. 

It definitely needs a bald-cap (at the minimum) to complete the look for a full costume, but I'm really happy with how this turned out. It was also really pretty easy -- not counting drying time, it probably only took two total hours of actual work and most of the materials were things I had around the house. 

This project started getting me stoked for the Halloween season, and I have an idea for a much larger prop project that I'll be starting soon. Watch this space for pics and updates