Thoughts About Launching with a Crowdfunding Campaign

I decided a while ago that I’d like to launch the mask plans with a crowdfunding campaign. For one thing, a cutter and new video equipment would be a great help but it would be nice to start building an audience before I begin.
There’s a mind-boggling variety of must-do advice out there, about “building a following before you launch a campaign”, writing press releases and all that unpleasantness.
To that end,  I’m trying to sort out my various bits on social media but my main focus is on the video for a Crowdfunding Campaign. For me, this is way harder than making the demo films. It’s the difference between presenting facts and telling a really interesting story that will make the funders want to be involved. I lack the confidence to use my face or my voice, so my hands and my work will have to do the talking.  I’ve “blacked out” the booth I use for demo videos, so that I can try some stop motion style techniques. I’ve been using it for photos, too.

Here are the original three masks, a couple of versions of each.

0.aliens

You could make your own alien army from just one plan

0.mice

All purpose rodent – Is It A Mouse? Is It a Rat? Depends how you paint it.

0unicorns

Maypole Unicorn and Battlefield Unicorn – Quick paint treatments that can make your mask a work entirely of your own.

Of all of the plan sets, these are the ones I have the most confidence in, having made them so many times. I’m steadily ironing out the details in the others whilst I rack my brains about my Crowdfunding dilemmas.


Mask Road Test and Demo Videos

Mystery Mask Wearers

Last Sunday we took the masks along with us on a day out to Llangollen. They get a pleasing Ooo reaction when you take them out of the bag and people seemed really interested when they turned them over and saw how they are constructed. I can’t name all of the people in the photo but there’s a five-piece-two-harp rock band amongst them, I promise you.

I’ve been editing the instruction videos this week, starting at the end in my own usual style. Or, unusual style. There’s some revision still going on around the materials and building parts of the tutorials.
All of them are graciously voiced for me by JB, although I am solely responsible for the content.

The Zombie Bear tutorial is a straightforward invitation to use the form of the masks and do whatever you want with them.
They’re designed to be rigid and robust, so you can add any bits you want.
The Decoration Part1 covers a couple of cheap and simple paint recipes.

Decoration Part 2 covers a piping technique on a black mask and using real leaves and bronzing powder to make a Green Man.

I’m aware that the vids can sometimes come off as a sales pitch for Mod Podge but it is, a wonderful thing. I’ve often used PVA or acrylic varnish as an all purpose glue, medium and glaze in the past. The Podge has superior drying and strength, plus it doesn’t saturate the card as much, so there is less distortion.

Sugar Skull and Monkey Masks

Having spent the last week making the demo videos that go with my mask plans, there’s still a burning question.
Have I made it all too damned complicated?
The truth is I so want these to be accessible because once they are built, they’re a pure joy to decorate. The tutorials aim to inspire mask builders to go crazy with their decoration.
The video shows that you don’t need to be particularly artistic, so long as you’re patient. When you see the blank next to the painted one, it really shows that you can play with the geometry and almost loose it.

monkey.painted

Now that I’m almost at the end of filming, next week is going to be spent editing it all together into comfortable chapters. The launch and marketing of this project is as yet unplanned and my next steps, once the instruction pack is complete, will be to get some photos of the masks being worn as well as to get them tested.
As always, the business bit gets right in the way of the creative bit but that’s life.

 

 

sugar.skull
Here’s another mask from the weekends film fun. The design’s done with Tulip “squeezy” paints, which are thorough fun to work with. The construction lines of the mask give you reference points enough to make up your design as you go.
This is the “happy” mask, from the pair of drama masks – his “sad” twin has been made into a Green Man.

Plans Still in the Planning Stage

Although I may have been quiet on the blog, I’ve been working away on the mask project.

Since I had created the original three I’ve spent time trying to improve everything about them, including finding the best combination of materials, to give my customers the best chance to reproduce these masks accurately and for the masks to be robust and long lasting.

mouse.mask.pair

All Purpose Rodent – On the left is the original, the other uses the new build system

I have been able to narrow the list of necessary materials down to three – printer card, Mod Podge or Acrylic varnish and contact adhesive.

The completed guides will each include the pattern and detailed instructions (which will  link to short video demos by chapter).

The Alien Mask  - you could make a whole army of these with just one plan

The Alien Mask – you could make a whole army of these with just one plan

All of the patterns are divided so that they will print on A4 paper (or, ideally, card) and you don’t need many tools – just a sharp craft knife, straight edge, cutting mat a couple of small paintbrushes and some patience.
They’re built using a numbered tab system to fix them together from the inside. They are built with no tape on the outside, which allows us to have a nicely decorated end product.
I’ve got future plans for masks and other “self build” objects which are much more complex and the tabs not only add strength, they’re a useful mapping tool to show the user how it fits together.

The Unicorn mask has an optional piece, if you want to make a horse

The Unicorn mask has an optional piece, if you want to make a horse

All of my decorated masks are rush jobs because I’m trying to design an entire product range. To help makers with decoration, I’m going to do some tutorials on making and using your own paints.
Masks with ears have an additional sheet of ear liners, which serve to hide the construction lines inside the ears. They can be fixed in with glue or acrylic medium.
Finally, here’s one of the new designs.

Bunny mask

Bunny mask

I’m still going over and checking the fine details of the plans.
I made a set of videos based on the “original instructions” but everything is quite different now, so I’m going to re-film them. JB will once again be kindly lending his voice.
I’ve built a new “set” for the videos – that’s where all of the photos in this post are taken. I’ve built it so that I can get good lighting and decent overhead camera angles.
It’s still going to be a little while before I can get these to market but if you are reading this and you would like to make one as a “product tester”, do get in touch.

Plans to make masks and hats

These are the end results of the first four completed plans. All of the things I’m going to show in these posts can be made by anyone.
Mouse.unicorn

On the left is “All Purpose Rodent”. You can leave the horn off the Unicorn, if you’d rather just be a little horse.

I aim to use materials that are available everywhere and as affordable as possible, if not free.

alien.mask2
Each starts with a pattern printed on printer card or paper and there are at least two ways to build each one. The alien and unicorn are made from “cereal packet” style scrap card.

mouse.mask top.hat
The mouse and top hat are papier mache on top of printer card.
I’ll go in to detail about how to make them in future posts, some of which will be full tutorials.