My prized haunt possession is a burlap “Field Creeper” scarecrow mask that I bought from Cameron at Grim Stitch Factory. I saw his work at TransWorld 2016, and was extraordinarily impressed by the quality of his work. If anyone is looking for a scarecrow mask, I don’t think you can find a better one than from Grim Stitch.
When I received my mask last spring, I became obsessed with learning the technique to make similar masks on my own. Suffice to say, I haven’t come anywhere close to Cameron’s quality of work. But here’s what I’ve managed to come up with after two tries.
The Basic Build
My approach begins with securing fabric to a foam bust that I got from Immortal Masks. The fabric adds a soft barrier between the burlap and your face. I used a cotton t-shirt, which admittedly is not the ideal material because it’s heavy and is already stitched into a shape.
Cameron’s technique for firming the burlap into a static shape remains a mystery to me. I did some research on YouTube and experimented with a few techniques of my own. The best method I discovered was silicone, although I know that Cameron does not use silicone. I found that pumping silicone out of a caulking gun is the easiest way to apply silicone to the head form.
The other issue is that Cameron’s burlap material is much better quality than the burlap I’ve found. So far, I’ve purchased burlap from Jo-Ann Fabrics, a local nursery, and Amazon.com. I’ve been trying to find burlap with a dense weave, but in each of these instances, the burlap has a loose weave.
The biggest problem with loose-weave burlap is that the silicone will bleed through. As such you will want to use clear silicone. (The picture shows black silicone because I had old silicone to use up, and I knew I’d be doing a second layer with clear silicone later.) You will also want to do any coloring or aging to the burlap before you add it to the silicone, because the silicone will resist stains and paints.
Oh, and remember to use a respirator when working with silicone!
Sculpting and Detail
Once the burlap is secured to the silicone layer, mold facial features into the burlap. For me, the most important features were the brow and the grin. So I cinched the burlap in a manner to have those features pop out as much as I could. I also recommend letting the burlap fold naturally – don’t try to pull it taut and smooth.
To dirty up the mask, I’ve found dark wood stain to be most effective.
Once the mask is set and dry (I gave it a full week to ensure the silicone had fully cured), slice open the back of the mask. Punch some holes along the edges of the slit and thread leather lacing between the holes.
For the face, I used a utility knife to cut out an eye, the mouth, and general wear and tear throughout the mask. I use hemp twine and a carpet needle to stitch up the eye and mouth. A pair of pliers will help with the stitching.
For finishing touches, I use PermaBlood at any point that is torn or stitched, then rub whatever blood remains on my hands over the rest of the mask. Then I rig a noose out of hemp rope and cinch it around the neck of the mask.
My technique to make gloves is pretty much the same as the mask itself. I use cotton work gloves as the base and my own hands to keep the shape. But it’s hard to get big chunks of burlap to wrap around tinier features like fingers. I opted to cut the burlap into hundreds of square pieces, about an inch on each side.