The pattern I came up with was pretty simple, just three pieces form the sides of the beak and the lower jaw. Right from the start, the shape of the beak pleased me immensely -- it just flowed.
Pushing a needle through 1/4 inch saddle leather would be a Herculean task, so I pre-drilled my stitching holes using my handy dandy Dremel tool. In order to keep the spacing even, I used a tiny fork to mark the leather. It worked a treat!
It pays to take time to really think through the steps of your project. I was all ready to start stitching the top of the beak when I realized that doing so would make sewing the lower jaw practically impossible. Heavy duty waxed thread and a long needle plus a pair of pliers helped the work along.
There are tons of how-to videos on the web about how to stitch leather. I looked at a handful, but this one was nice and clear.
Once the stitching was done, I took the mask to the sink and ran water all over it inside and out. Wet leather is very pliable and wants to be your friend. I checked the shape on my face, and then stuffed a small towel inside the beak to get that nice round shape. I turned the lights out and headed to bed because I was worn out, but I couldn't get to sleep for a bit because I kept thinking of how I was going to finish it.
Morning! This is where I learned something: eye holes are difficult to cut out once the mask is stitched together. It would have been much easier to cut them out beforehand. The reason I didn't is that I wanted to make sure of the placement. Wouldn't it have been sad to do all that stitching and stretching only to find that the eye holes were halfway up my forehead?
For the filters, I'm using two garden watering bubblers I painted black. They cost about $8 each and were the most expensive part of this project. I picked them because not only did they look the part, but they attach to a garden hose with just a few twists. I figured I'd use a male hose adapter on the inside of the mask, poke it through, and then screw the bubbler on the outside. There are a couple of different styles, and I liked these best. They're lightweight and air moves freely through them, so they provide a lot of ventilation in the heavy leather mask.
For the eyepieces, I picked up a pvc compression coupler, took off the ring (eyepiece!) ends and cut the middle pipe down to two ends with 3/4 of an inch of threading. I made the eyeholes a little small and then wetted the leather so it would stretch a bit.I worked the threaded bit through, then covered the end with a bit of black nylon screen, and screwed the endcaps back on, creating the "goggle". I'm not completely happy with the screen --I'd like something a bit more opaque -- but it'll do for now.
Once the eyepieces were fitted, and the filters were ready to be attached, I sorted through the box of old bridle parts I keep handy for repairs and found a piece to use as the mask strap. I used a screw-rivet on one end, and cut a slot for the leather to pass through on the other side. There were already buckles on the piece I chose, so I didn't have to mess with attaching those. It was pretty easy.
Then I gave the whole thing a go-over with the dark brown dye I had left from dying my bridle last week.
Then I ate a plate of spaghetti and meatballs, because I was hungry!
Then my mask was dry and I capered to the mirror to see how it looked...
Pretty amazing! And will be even more so, once I darken those lenses so I look even more mysterious and spooooooky. The braid hanging down isn't part of the mask -- that's just my hair photo-bombing, like it does.
Here's a shot of the inside. I had to epoxy in a soft leather pad over the eyepieces because the plastic rested on my brow bone and it was uncomfortable, so I have a secret unibrow, which makes me laugh. Or maybe that's from trying on the mask before the epoxy was completely dry and the fumes made me all giddy...