I’ve handed over the blog for a guest post from Hannah Stewart one of our graduates of 2014. For her Graduation Project Hannah made three prop costume masks of three monsters called Angerbird, Greedmonkey and Pridefly from Timberlake Wertenbaker’s play ‘The Ash Girl’. She made the masks, additional props and a painted backdrop within five weeks, and she also directed a short video trailer of three third year actors performing as the monsters.


“For each mask I wanted to use different materials so I could try out new techniques and broaden my prop making knowledge.


For Angerbird I used withies to create the beak muzzle section. To shape the withies, I left them to soak in water for twelve hours and then shaped them around a polystyrene base that I previously cut into a beak shape. After securing the withies together with glue and button thread, I glued it into an old vapour mask, which fitted perfectly around the actor’s nose, mouth and chin. I then attached leatherette covered elastic straps to the vapour mask so that it would be held to the actor’s head, whilst also suggest the idea of the monster having to be contained due to being so aggressive. I dirtied down the leatherette and painted a rusty iron finish for the beak muzzle.


For the Pridefly mask I wanted to create a plastic and crisp look. I vacformed two polystyrene eggs to create the fly eyes, and I used a vacform of a wig block to make the mask’s base onto which I glued on foam and calico. I sprayed the eyes with an iridescent two-tone spray paint and I stretched fish net tights overtop. To create the antennae I used soft aluminium wire and hot glue. I made the glittery black skin by applying on a mixture of latex and rubber crumbs to the calico, as well as placing in brush bristles to create Pridefly’s hairy skin. Once it was dry I sprayed the entire head with black spray paint and whilst it was still wet I sprinkled on some black glitter.


When making the Greedmonkey mask, I did a two-part face cast of the actor with medical plaster bandages. Once these were dry I pushed clay into the negatives and positioned the two halves around a mannequin head that acted as a core support for the clay head. After removing the plaster bandages, I sculpted the Greedmonkey features and then created a plaster of paris mould of it. Once the plaster was dry I removed all of the clay and mannequin pieces from the mould and cleaned it up with water, I then used it to create a liquid latex slush cast. I poured the liquid latex into the plaster mould cavity, rotated the mould so that all the inside walls were covered, and then poured out the excess latex into a bucket. I left this to dry for about four hours. I did this about six times and I added muslin strips into the penultimate layer to add extra strength and durability to the latex mask. Using talcum powder I gently removed the latex mask form the plaster mould, applied gold leaf patterns onto it and glued on fake fur to create the monster’s wild hair.

This was a challenging project but I am so thrilled with the result. I feel the video trailer not only showcases my work but also puts the monster characters into context”.