Yetis form a major part of my life. But until now I didn’t have my own suit. I was only half a man. So, with the launch of my 4th Mythical 9th Division book, the Alien Moon, just around the corner on 3 May, it was time to rectify the matter.
Now all the available suits out there are pretty nasty – both in their angry nature, and in their finish. But I had to start somewhere, so I bought this suit for the body, hands and feet. They’re actually pretty good, and the inflatable shoulders are a winner.
BUT, and this is a big but, the mask was quite horrible to wear. It was really claustrophobic and sweaty. It also wasn’t really suitable for use in school visits. I want the kids to think it’s smart (or to use the correct terminology, ‘sick’), not terrifying.
So, where to start. This is what I wanted the mask to look like – my yeti, Timonen.
The face is simple, for ease of drawing, and Timonen has a massive beard, which is perfect for hiding the costume joins. To sculpt the face I bought some Sculpey and, with a wire mesh support…
…I got cracking. From there I built up the clay until it looked right, and then baked it to set it hard. And here it is, the positive impression of a yeti face.
Now, to make a rubber version of the face, I’d need to turn that positive impression into a negative. I needed to make a mould. There are many options you could choose, but I wanted the easiest possible method. I picked Alginate. This stuff is used for taking casts of teeth, so it’s very friendly and quick setting. As the mask was just one side, I could create a sort of Alginate bath and push the yeti face into it until it set.
That’s exactly what I did, as you can see here.
Within a few minutes it was set, and I could pull out the clay face to reveal the negative mould – you can see the problems with my process writ large. Air bubbles galore, and sadly, one big one over the right eye. But, because I was making a rubber mask, I could make the best of a bad job.
I filled in some of the tiny holes with fresh alginate, and once that was dry set about making the mask with liquid rubber latex.
Over the next few hours, and ultimately days, I poured layer after layer of the latex into the mould.
I was so excited to peel the thing out, but I waited, and pretended to be patient. Finally, once it was fully dry, I removed the mask. Here it is next to the clay version.
You can see all the bubbles (which I then trimmed with a knife), I also lost the ears, and you can also see the problem with the right eye. As things turned out, it wasn’t an issue. I painted the face, cut holes in the eyes and mouth, and eventually ended up with this:
Paint doesn’t sit well on rubber, and it cracked quite easily, but for a first attempt, it looked pretty good. All that was needed now was to stitch on the white fur to create the back and beard, and the mask was complete.
And of course, I also had to wait for the snow. Here is the suit, in all its finished glory!
And now to get out and about!