Saturday, November 25, 2006


I mentioned Modroc in one of my recent posts and several people have asked me exactly what it is – and I don’t think it was anything to do with the fact that I spelt it wrongly!

Modroc is scrim that has been impregnated with plaster. From what I understand this is the material used years ago for plaster casts to mend broken limbs. It’s fairly lightweight and robust. If painting, its best to brush on a layer of gesso first as the surface is quite absorbent.

These masks were all made from Modroc. I made them a few years ago as part of a theatrical costume course. The brief was to make a series of masks based on early twentieth century headwear to be displayed in a showcase in the foyer of the theatre to advertise the latest stage production. I made five masks in total and my main theme was the 1920’s.

This is my favourite. It took me ages to make the beaded fringe but I enjoyed every minute.

This photo hasn’t come out too well. Makes the mask look like an old man with a beard! This is knitted beaded wire. The top layer of organza is black, bottom layer blue. The mask was painted a deep blue then rubbed over with Treasure Silver.

The silk chiffon on this mask was dip-dyed in acid dyes.

Modroc can be modelled around a former. You can use wire, newspaper or in my case a glass head. If you were to use an absorbent surface as a former you would need to cover it in cling film or Vaseline first.
Estimate the amount of material needed and cut into smaller workable strips. You need about 3 layers but if you find that your model is a bit uneven in places when you remove it from the former, you can always add more.

You need a shallow tray of water to immerse the modrock in. Modroc absorbs moisture so you need to keep the unused material away from water or moisture in the air. Make sure the water is clean as setting time is affected by this as is the temperature of the water - cold water slower, warm water quicker. You can speed up the drying out time with a hairdryer.

Immerse a strip of modrock in the water for 4 – 5 seconds.

Lift out of the water and run through the fingers to squeeze out the excess. Do not wring out – you’ll end up with a tangled up piece of material.
Start layering the pieces on your former. Work one area/layer at a time because after 3-4 minutes it will be unworkable. Place it on and rub all over with your fingers to get a smooth finish.

This finished piece below has had 3 layers.

After about 10 minutes I removed the mask from the former. When it is completely dry I will sand the edges and then decide how to decorate.

This is a very messy technique but is great fun with good end results.


suebemail said...

Very cool! That beaded mask is fantastic.

MargaretR said...

Lovely work. Thanks for the instructions. Where would you buy your modroc? B&Q or Homebase type of place?