Kelly Mann, a.k.a. "the Mask Doctor", thus titled for
my techniques of care & repair of rubber masks and similar
memorabilia, I have been involved professionally with special
effects and makeup for nearly twenty-five years. I have worked for
Hollywood's major movie studios, as well as the top theme parks
throughout the United States.
As the Mask
Doctor, my studio has become an emergency room for aging and damaged
masks. There, I can provide patching, hairing, foaming, and custom
painting services for your cherished collectible, with a near-100%
are however, certain precautions you can take, and things ďnot to
doĒ. Simple ways that you can prolong the life of your own masks.
masks are made of natural latex. They have a finite life span.
can extend their usefulness with common sense, and a little
enemies of all latex masks are:
Perspiration- It contains oil, and oil rots rubber.
Petroleum- Any kind of oil, Vaseline, or solvent, dissolves latex.
folded, and under pressure, masks will crease.
Age- Any mask, no matter how
you baby it, will eventually rot.
If you wear
your masks, please be careful to clean them well on the inside
as well as the outside. A washcloth with a mild soap solution,
followed by a water wipe and dry will remove any perspiration,
saliva, and make-up. When dry, you should follow this with a light
dusting of baby powder inside to help keep it dry.
If the mask
has long hair that needs attention, donít wash it! Brush the hair
using a very gentle wide toothed brush, or an Afro pick comb.
Starting at the ENDS and working gently toward the roots, Brushing
out one small area at a time. If the hair is extremely dirty, gently
dab it with a water-dampened paper towel. Allow to air dry. Avoid
using a hairdryer. The heat will restyle the hair if it is supposed
to be curly or kinky. Then brush the hair, as above.
wearings donít just toss your mask in a closet. Store it properly,
and it will be ready for the next time.
It is a
good idea to support your mask between wearings. If you donít have a
Styrofoam wig stand to put it on, stuff it with plastic garbage
bags, to help it retain itsí shape. Many people use newspaper, but
Iíve found that to be too acidic, and it eventually gets brittle and
then affords no support. (You know this if you have brittle
back-issues of Famous Monsters of Filmland!) Then store your mask
inside another plastic garbage bag. You can label it with a masking
tape label. Be sure to carefully dry out the mask's interior first,
of any perspiration or saliva, using one or more paper towels. Allow
it to dry thoroughly, then dust lightly with a little talc or baby
Remember to do
this each time the mask is worn.
masks are displayed as showpieces, there are other considerations as
well. Obviously, we all canít pay to have museum cases built to
protect them, so here are some more affordable ideas.
tips apply here too. However the first and best protection is a
proper method of displaying the mask. It should be supported by a
Styrofoam wig stand at LEAST. If the mask is too tall, or the neck
is too long, masking tape the wig standsí base to an empty plastic
peanut butter jar. And fill it with rocks or sand for better
support however, is to have the mask foam-filled. Itís light,
completely inert, and fully supports every part of the mask. Of
course, I offer this service on my Mask Doctor web-site.
Once your mask
is properly supported, consider where you are going to display it.
Choose a spot that is out of direct sunlight, and is cool and dry.
display your masks on a shelf that has another shelf above it. This
will help keep them out of sunlight and dust-free. Use a display
surface that is at least three feet above the floor. Especially if
you have pets. This will also help keep them away from a dusty
environment, the carpet.
As much as
possible keep dust off your masks. Household dust will trap moisture
and oil, which degrades rubber. Remove dust by whisking with a
disposable paintbrush or any soft clean brush. Clean with mild soap
and water, and a soft cloth, only in extreme cases of dirt or oil
depending on the type of paint used, or storage problems, a
displayed mask will yellow, or appear to ďrustĒ. This mask ďrustĒ
can be removed, but refer this to a professional. (me.)
the best of intentions, we can sometimes do more harm when we think
weíre helping. For instance, NEVER use any silicone based rubber
protectant products such as Armor All on a mask. It can do some
strange things to rubber over time. And never EVER use shoe polish,
Vaseline, or saddle soap. The oil content will kill the liveliness
of latex, and break it down.
want to re-paint a mask, do not use spray paint, or model paints.
Not only is it brittle, and will crack, but it too contains
petroleum solvents. Using makeup to color a mask is also a mistake,
since it is oil based. It Takes an experienced eye to tell what kind
of paint was used on your mask. A re-paint should be compatible. For
a quality paint job, e-mail me.
simple tips your masks should last for years, and look their
frightening best for seasons to come.
about any of my services visit me at,
If you have
additional problems, I have a FAQ line at,
Or just e-mail