Making a Copper Mask, Part 2

October 26, 2009

 Go HERE for the first post on how to design and shape the mask.

Copper Jaguar Mask

Copper Jaguar Mask

The Copper Jaguar Mask could be used as it is, but I want to add spots and fabric decorations.

RIVETS:  A jaguar’s spots (like the markings on any spotted or striped cat) are unique to the individual, just like human finger prints.  Even black jaguars have spots, though they may not be visible except in bright sunlight.  But the spots on the mask will be highly stylized decorative rivets for a 3-D look.  Rivets are small cylindrical pieces of metal that are commonly used to join two pieces of metal without heat (in blacksmithing, large steel rivets are heated, though the pieces to be joined may not be). 

I drew dots on the copper with a permanent marker and used a drill press to drill holes from the inside of the mask, with the metal resting on a block of scrap wood.  The three hole sizes fit the three sizes of wire that I chose for rivets. 

Holes Drilled for Rivets

Holes Drilled for Rivets

Copper wire in gauges 14, 10, and 6 was annealed to soften it.  (Rivets smaller than 16 are more difficult to set, and anything larger than 6 is quite heavy).  The pieces of wire must be long enough to form a substantial domed or flattened “head” when they are hammered in, but not so long that the shank bends sideways or protrudes from the sheet metal.  For this project, I cut pieces of wire about 3/16″ long, and file the ends flat and smooth.  I usually lay the metal on the anvil for riveting, but the convex surface of the mask needed a domed support.  Fortunately I have a specialized tool for the job:  a forming stake, bought years ago from another blacksmith, made from a trailer hitch ball welded to a length of heavy square bar that slides into the hardy hole on my anvil.  For each rivet, I laid the mask right-side-up on the stake, put the rivet in the hole, and carefully hammered the end of the wire with the ball end of the hammer.  I worked on the edges of the rivet first, to stabilize it, then hammered the center to flatten it, and hammered the edges again to create a dome.  I flipped the mask over and hammered the rivet a couple of times from the back, just to make sure it was securely fastened into the metal.  Here’s the finished mask, with a closer view of some of the rivets.


Jaguar Mask - Rivets

Jaguar Mask - Finished


2 Responses to “Making a Copper Mask, Part 2”

  1. debra said

    It’s interesting to hear how you added the spots, and I was surprised to see how much they add to the mask. I’d like to see it on to see how the fabric and jewelry falls. (Now I must rethink my normal halloween costume–green hair and makeup–time to start a new tradition I think)

  2. ironwing said

    I’ll post a picture of my costume on the day of the All Souls Procession (Nov. 8).

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