Wednesday, March 25, 2015

How to Paint a Leather Mask


I'm bringing you a post today about how to paint a leather mask.
It's a fairly simple process, and you can add as much or as little detail as you like.

I use acrylic paints. They're water based and work well on leather. There's a wide variety of colors to choose from, and you can even blend colors for a perfect custom blend!

Clean up is easy too - just use soap and water.

To get started with acrylic paints, you'll need a few simple supplies.

- Water dish
- Plastic wrap or wax paper
- Brushes
- Leather Mask
- Paint
- Paper towel
- Access to a sink

Your water dish can be simple - I use a recycled plastic up, or a small glass ramekin. I typically keep 2 separate dishes. One for clean water, and one for a quick rinse. I avoid using mugs or cups, since I often have drinking water or tea nearby. Paint water doesn't taste good!

I like to cover my work area with plastic wrap or waxed paper to make clean up easier. Also, when I'm blending colors or thinning my paints with water I like to use the plastic wrap as a palate. You can use a plastic lid for a palate, or buy one from a craft store. I spread out a lot when I work, so a big sheet of plastic wrap over the counter works best for me!

Tap water works great to thin your acrylics for easy blending, or you can use special acrylic mediums. I like flow extender too, since it increases the time you have to work with your paint before it drys. This is helpful for a large area or if you have a custom blended color you want to work with later.

You can also cover your paints with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out!

I prefer golden or white taklon brushes. They have very smooth bristles so you don't leave brush streaks, and are inexpensive to buy. You can get a pack of 3 brushes in different widths for a few dollars. I like to have a very wide brush for my basecoat, a medium one for touch ups, and a smaller brush for details. I don't use super fine brushes very often. I used to use a lot more sizes, but I do 90% of my painting with 2 brushes.

Try a few out, and see what works for you!

Leather is a great surface for acrylic paints. It's porous enough that they absorb into the surface, and it's a light enough shade for good coverage. I only paint on vegetable tanned leather. Suede will not look good painted, and treated garment or upholstery leathers with a smooth, glossy surface won't absorb the paint enough for it to stay well.

Do a test spot first if you're not sure how your leather will take the paint.

It's normal for the base coat to get absorbed into the leather a bit. I start with one solid color base coat on all my masks, even if it's going to be multi colored later. This primes the surface and smooths it for painting.

I use the nicer craft acrylics that come in little 2 oz bottles. I use a huge variety of colors, and a little goes a long way. You will be surprised how many masks you can paint with one 2 oz bottle! I buy my basic colors, like black and white, in large bottles since I will use them up faster. By getting a 2 oz bottle, I have a better chance of using it up before it drys out, and then I'm not stuck with a color I don't like.

Each brand has different colors, and a different texture. I prefer the Ceramcoat paints for most of my work, since they have good coverage and a thick texture.

Try a few of a similar color in different brands to see how they compare!

Thicker art acrylics are really nice too, and look beautiful on masks. They are a bit trickier to work with, and more expensive too.

Keep some paper towel nearby to clean up spills and blot your brushes. I use a lot of water when I work, and having the correct dampness to my brush is critical! If you paint is 'skipping' across the surface, try getting a little water on your brush first or mixing some water into your paint. You'll get the feel for it soon, and learn how damp you like your paints.

I do most of my painting near my sink. It's a quick turn to wash out brushes or change water. I also keep a tube of heavy duty hand cream nearby - all the soap and water is very drying for my hands!

After you're done painting, make sure to wash up and clean your brushes. Dried on paint will ruin the bristles, and shorten their lifespan.

As an added step, you can also add a top coat to protect the paint and keep it looking nice. I prefer Liquitex Satin Varnish. It's a high grade polymer acrylic top coat, and has a touch of shine. It's non-yellowing and UV resistant too!

Use a separate brush for your topcoat so it doesn't get tinted, and never use your brush in the bottle. Put some gloss in a tray or dish and work from there.

That's the basics for painting a leather mask!
Hope you enjoyed reading, and feel free to comment or send me a message with specific questions.

Have a Squirrelriffic day!

- Kym

Saturday, March 14, 2015


It's been a warm and beautiful week here in Squirrel Creek land! We're working hard to prepare for Kitsune Kon next weekend (March 20-22, 2015), and we're excited to be debuting some new products! In the meantime however, commissions still need to be created and sent to their new homes. But how does the commission process typically work? Well it varies slightly from person to person, but this is a general step-by-step:
Large Red Dragon Concept
Large Red Dragon Final

a) Trading e-mails, to confirm ideas. You can contact us either through our Etsy Store: or e-mail squirrel.creek.creations@
b) Agreeing on price. If you have a specific budget, we'll try our best to work within it. Commissions start as low as $30, and average around $65-$85. The more complex, the higher the price.
c) Once payment is sent, we'll send you concept sketches for your project. This is where the fun begins! While some of our sketches are drawn on paper, we also like to utilize drawing tablets and photo editing programs. That way we can make quick and easy changes to the concept designs. Want to see it in blue? No problem. Add polka dots? Can do! Photoshop makes these changes quick and easy so we can make the project you're envisioning.
d) Once the concept is agreed upon, we'll start on the project, sending periodic updates to make sure it's being completed to match your expectations. Depending on time and availability, we'll send progress pictures while working on your project. That way you can watch it come to life!
e) Final confirmation from you.
f) Final touches such as top coating.
g) We'll ship it out.
h) Enjoy your custom order!
Blue Fox Concept
Blue Wolf Final
What can we make for you? We've made tons of various projects in the past that vary from the very simple to a whole costume, mask, pants, armor and all! Some examples of what we've made in the past: Fursona masks, custom animals, pet masks, armor, winged-crowns, lower face masks, ocean scenery masks, capes, non-leather crown, giant squid plushies, custom eyepatches and more! We'll work hard to help make your vision come to life!

Lemur Final

Lemur Concept

What can't we make? Although we'd love to be able to create everything and anything you have in mind, there are a few restrictions on what we can do. For example, we can't make anything copyrighted. If it's an original design, it has to be your creation or you have permission to use it; we don't want to step on anyone's toes! These are the main two no-nos for us.
Those are the basics for the commission process. Contact us anytime and we'll get back to you asap so we can start making your visions come true!
Squirrel Creek Creations, LLC

Unique Blue Fox Concept

Blue Fox Complete

Monday, March 2, 2015

How to Form a Leather Mask

Hello everyone!

I'm back with a continuation of this post on how to wear your mask with spirit gum.

Wide Eyed Super Hero Mask - Ready to Wear!

In the post, the subject of forming a mask to fit your face came up. You want to be comfortable for those long days in costume at a convention. The best way to make sure your mask feels good for hours on end is to form it to your own face!

It's a fairly simple process, and doesn't take long.

Once you've got your formed mask, you can paint it any way you like! I recommend acrylic paints or leather dye. There's lots of ways to decorate it as well, or just leave it nice and simple.

Here's the video link.


You can buy a ready to form mask here, or check out the Squirrel Creek Creations Etsy shop by clicking on the links to the right!

I'll be back in 2 weeks to talk about painting your mask. Thanks for stopping by, have a Squirrelriffic day!

- Kym