Tag Archives: nightmare

Worbla Halloween Mask

This year I have to wait until after Halloween to go trick-or-treating because it’s convention time.

This weekend is Convolution, featuring guests of honor Brian & Wendy Froud who helped bring Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal to life. I’ll get to meet lots of creative pros from writers and costumers to fire-dancers and falconers. The convention theme this year is the Realm of Dreams. Saturday can only mean one thing:  the Goblin King’s Masquerade Ball.

I don’t own any dresses, or masks for that matter.

What I did have was a grab-bag of steel and leather armor pieces, and some thermoplastic scrap worbla left over from another project. Making a mask with worbla is super easy, just grab your heat gun and get to work.

MASK CONSTRUCTION!

1.  Make a pattern out of paper.  Put it on your face. Look in the mirror. See if it makes you happy.  If not, cut it up.

  • I folded the fangs under to make them more symmetrical, and decided that I liked the look so I kept it.
  • I aimed for a combo of sharp edges and curving, organic shapes — somewhere between Maximus’ helmet from Gladiator, and the wrought-iron beauty of a Nazgul crown.
  • Scaling back the design was necessary, because I hate stuff on my face and wanted to minimize the weight.
  • Make sure that your pattern conforms to the shape of your face, including the bridge of your nose.

Base mask with cheek spikes folded under. Top strip will become ‘crown’ pieces.

2. Cut out your pattern, trace it onto the worbla with a sharpie marker.

3. Cut out the your worbla mask. Worbla is very thin, like the kind of cardboard they use for cereal boxes. General-use scissors will do you fine. If you have to cut fine details, use an x-acto knife or razor blade that’s spent some time under the heat gun. Warm knife through butter.

4. Heat up the worbla with a heat gun and press it to your face so it’s nice and form-fitting.

  • Protip:  make sure it still fits no matter what your mood. I tried to smile in it after I’d finished, and my cheeks shoved the mask right into my eyes. Not very dignified. Now you know why Batman’s so unhappy. Can’t smile in his mask.

5. Use the heat gun gently on the decorative and base pieces until they’re warm but not floppy. Press the shiny sides together, no adhesive necessary.

Remember what I said about your pattern actually conforming to your face? The strip across my cheek wasn’t long enough to attach to the nose-guard. I cut out and affixed a little bridge piece. You can pinch the plastic together like clay until it cools. Flaws add character to rugged, barbaric costumes. It’s the princess dresses that suck to make.

I

Messy, but not unfixable. Trim off excess and sand smooth if desired.

6. Check for symmetry, string-holes and other details.  If your mask doesn’t conform to your face, you can re-heat and re-shape it once or twice more.  After that it gets too thin. If you have leftover worbla snippets, you can heat them up and sculpt them like clay. I added one to each cheek to make it look welded.

7. Hey, a mask!  Let’s paint!

Sittin’ pretty.

8. I used Rub ‘n Buff wax metallic finish to make it look like steel.

  • Gesso was not necessary with the wax finish. Nor was a seal.
  • I tried pewter and silver leaf RNB, and settled on silver. Pewter is a bit darker, and looked more like stone than metal.
  • Apply with a Q-tip in little circles.  Make sure you rub it in really well, a little drop will cover a few inches of surface area, and you don’t want it to rub off.

9. To get the patina, I used black acrylic paint and spit. Normal people use paint and water. Maybe the fumes got to me.

  • Darken the negative space to make your decorative details stand out.
  • Very lightly dry-brush black acrylic paint around the eyes, cheeks, teeth, and any other parts that would regularly come in contact with human grime.

Spit not pictured.

Check out your handiwork under different types of light to make sure you achieved the effect you wanted.

Combine that mask with black studded gauntlets, one segmented steel pauldron, black leather thigh-boots and a $12 black dress and you are all set to invade the Goblin Masquerade.  Dressed for a pit fight. Oops.

In the realm of dreams, I’ll rep the nightmares any day.

50+ likes on this post by Thanksgiving, and I’ll upload a snapshot of the whole getup.

The shadow is not inherently evil. If it is ignored or denied, it may become monstrous to compensate. Only then is it likely to “demonically possess” its owner, leading to compulsive, exaggerated, “evil” behavior.”
–  Rob Brezsny

All war is deception.”
– Sun Tzu

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The Zen of Nightmares – How to Use a Dream Diary

I see this and panic a little.

I just had the worst dream.

I was trying out a new gym. When I returned to the locker room I found that my katana had been destroyed. That’s right, the one in the banner above.

I looked around the locker room, and all these thin blond sorority girls applied deodorant, dressed or did their hair. The smiled at each other, but never at me. I knew in my bones that they had done this. I looked down at the remnants in my hands. The blade had been snapped off a few inches from the cross guard. One strip of wood dangled off the tang, two of the pins were gone, and the wood on both sides bristled with jagged splinters where the end cap would have been.

I ran around the locker room looking for the blade. Three or four shards of it were being carried away on the backs of brown mice and black rats. I chased them, but they scurried down a hole too small for me to follow.

I wandered the streets with my shattered hilt. I saw the mice carrying the shards into a hole in a warehouse wall. I found the door and went inside. There were two men seated in the front waiting room, wearing baseball caps and looking at the floor so I couldn’t see their faces. I asked for the pieces back. The two men said they didn’t know what I was talking about, and then three lamia appeared from a back room. They were disembodied floating women’s heads, each with a spine still attached. They wailed and screamed, trying to bite me. I ran outside and slammed the door.

I had to get the pieces back. I went back inside. The two men were still there in their baseball caps, drinking beer and staring at the floor. This time, the blade had been reassembled, but it was weak and flexible like a tai chi sword. I burst into tears. I couldn’t see how a flexing blade could ever re-attach to the shattered parts I held. The blade, of its own volition, wriggled away like a snake. I went back outside.

I took a breath and stopped crying. I went inside a third time. The whole room had re-arranged, and the two men were working at two tables. Their baseball caps were gone and I could see their faces. One was blond and wore glasses. I asked them if they could fix my sword, and held out the pieces for them to see. They looked up at me and apologized. They only made latex boffer weapons here. The blade was gone.

I woke up on the verge of tears. I rolled out of bed, scooted over to my weapons rack and had to touch it to realize that my katana was still there, and undamaged.

What This Has To Do With Writing:

Nightmares make better story-seeds than dreams, and not always because of the conflict and content. My sword broke. So what? I could have just gotten a new one, right? Wrong. The anguish was never about the sword, it was about what the sword was/meant/represented. Once you write out your dreams, look at why they triggered an emotional response.

The dream seemed to point out my attachment to material things. Or how I’m clinging to something that’s broken. Or a warning that physical strength is fleeting.

Meaning without a story is preachy. Stories without meaning are hollow.

Tension and choice are the story. Any problem you create with technology or magic can be solved by technology or magic — that’s not compelling. The deep human meaning of these things is what makes them relatable. It’s not what you lost, but the idea of loss itself.

Part of a warrior’s path is the capacity to confront things that scare you — whether you’ve planned or not. We do it so others don’t have to. Your path is toward your fear.

When you want the hero (and the audience) to suffer, think about the underlying meaning of the event. If it’s contrived, it’ll fall flat. If you find yourself crying as you write, you’re on the right track. Are you translating those feelings to your stories in an authentic way?

Nightmares exist outside of logic, and there’s little fun to be had in explanations; they’re antithetical to the poetry of fear.
― Stephen King

People with intelligence will… try to push through whatever they want with their clever reasoning. This is injury from intelligence. Nothing you do will have effect if you do not use truth.
― Yamamoto Tsunetomo