Is Jason’s mask the most iconic and legendary horror mask of them all? … Probably. A certain Michael Myers might argue the point. The energetic individuals who wore the Ghostface hood might raise their hands. But when the dust has settled I believe you just can’t beat the hockey mask.
It’s such a simple idea but visually the end result is stunning. As a kid I LOVED the fact that beneath the flat white surface of this featureless mask there was a hideously deformed brute of a man. The contrast is huge and gave Jason a classic mysterious quality that all good movie killers have.
In recent times there has been an exciting growth in the number of people who carefully hand craft replica hockey masks, and it’s a skill I have followed with great interest. Some products are better than others but most are created by hands that belong to people with a real passion for the Friday The 13th movies and horror in general.
I’ve wanted to create an article about mask making for some time, and recently I got the opportunity to communicate with the insanely talented Richard Gray Pennington, who has started up his own little business ‘Elite Stone Replicas’ …
What caught my eye with Richard’s work was the diversity of the ‘looks’ he could create and just his friendly, approachable manner. Something you certainly do not always get online these days.
We had an awesome chat about the whole mask making process and much more …
1. First of all can you tell me a little bit about your journey to this point, have you always been artistic and creative?
“Well, I have always been artistically inclined since I was a kid. I was always drawing very detailed pictures and renderings of my favorite cartoons or even from everyday life. I have had a passion for art and music from a very young age, as well as poetry and creative writing. Painting however, was never one of my stronger points.
Throughout the years, family and responsibilities had led me away from doing much of anything artistic. I found myself working in construction and even at a mall for many years until I decided it wasn’t for me anymore. I wanted to rekindle the artist side of my personality. So I chose to apply to the Art Center Design College and pursued a 5 year college career and achieved my Bachelor’s Degree in Animation Graphics in 2010 creating hand drawn traditional animation as well as skills in 3D animation and modeling.”
“I began my journey into the whole “Mask and replicas” world as a collector and found I had more and more of a desire and a curiosity to actually make my own someday. However, as painting wasn’t something I felt was a strength of mine, I kept collecting and never really pursued the hockey mask making idea. I simply relied on others to make the masks that I felt I wanted. I had a few different experiences … some good, some bad … with many different artists. The biggest issue I faced was the fact that most of these masks were well outside my price range and the better the mask, the higher the price. But I still kept collecting until one day I ordered a mask, and after receiving the mask, I was very unhappy with the outcome and end product. So I decided from that point I wouldn’t rely on anyone else to make my masks any longer and that I would at least make the attempt to paint my own. My first mask was painted in October 2013. That was when I realized that I kind of had a knack and had that attention to detail that the hockey masks needed.”
“My biggest motivation on actually deciding to sell the masks and make them for other people was, as a collector, it was so hard to get the money to buy a high quality mask. I really started to paint them simply because I didn’t want to have to keep buying them. I always either struggled to get the cash or just couldn’t buy one. So once I noticed that I was pretty good at painting the hockey masks, I figured if I could use that ideal of having high quality and detailed masks at affordable prices, my fan base and customer base would be larger and definitely more appreciative that there was an artist that understands they can get a quality, well-made mask, without breaking their budget. I also enjoy becoming friends with the people I do business with. I strive to provide the best customer service I possibly can. So far it seems I’m doing a pretty good job of it.”
2. Can you tell me a bit more about that first mask you worked on?
“The mask was a replica of the 2009 Remake of Friday the 13th that I had ordered, but the mask I ordered was not the mask that had been delivered to me by the artist and I was very unhappy with it. So I actually took that finished mask, sanded it back down to the base, and repainted it. The final outcome with that mask was something I could not have been happier with and I still have that mask in my collection. So I guess you could say I’m thankful that I wasn’t happy with the mask that was made for me because I probably wouldn’t have had the idea to really begin painting the hockey masks if I had actually been pleased with it.”
3. How long, roughly, does it take to complete a mask and can you tell me about the stages involved?
“Typically if I have all the materials and blanks in stock a Hockey mask from start to finish takes me between a week to a week and a half to complete. If I have more hours at my full time job or lots of orders to take care of, it may take a bit longer. I do make my own leather or elastic straps to be as accurate to the movie as I possibly can and so sometimes that takes a little while longer to complete. There have been a couple times the blanks have taken a while to receive or I needed materials that were currently out of stock which delayed the building of the mask. But I typically order enough materials and blanks ahead of time so I’m prepared … unless there is a special request by a customer to use a different blank than one I keep on hand. In that case I have to order that requested blank.”
“My biggest delay is typically just my own critiques and feelings about the mask I am working on. If I’m not happy with the mask, I will not call it finished and will not send it out to a customer until I am happy with it. I would rather take a little longer for a better result than to send out a mask I am not happy with to a customer because the way I see it is if I’m not happy with it, more than likely the customer won’t be happy with it either.”
“As far as the stages, that’s pretty cut and dry. I order the blanks from different venders, and after receiving them, I drill, cut, and shape the blank and the eye holes to be as accurate to the film as possible. I then sand the entire mask smooth which definitely looks good, but also helps the paint stick to the mask better. I use spray paints for the base coats and base colors of the masks. I use a multitude of tools and materials from sandpaper to x-acto blades to make the small and larger details to different style leathers and hardware to make the straps.”
“Although I do purchase the blanks from different venders, I am, however, planning to be making the blanks themselves and make them completely from start to finish very soon. I am also planning to get into the mask and display bust sculpting and latex mask work very soon.”
4. Do you also create unique hockey masks?
“I do in fact create and design custom masks depending on what some of my customers request. In fact, I’m currently building a mask that puts 4 different mask versions from 4 of the movies in the series into a single mask. I have also been commissioned to make a Silence of The Lambs Hannibal Lecter Restrain face mask replica. So I’m definitely not opposed to making a custom mask for anyone as long as it’s within my ability. I won’t take on a project that I know I am unable to complete just to make a few bucks.”
“Horror and the Friday the 13th series are both definitely a big passion of mine. I’ve loved both since I was a kid. My Halloween costume when I was in 5th grade was Jason Voorhees using a cheap Halloween store knock off hockey mask that I painted myself. My first horror movie that started it all for me was the original My Bloody Valentine when I was 3 years old. Since then, I’ve been a horror fanatic and couldn’t be happier about that fact. My parents still look at me like I’m crazy for loving the genre and the replicas but I can’t help it. This stuff is just way too much fun.”
6. Finally, (The million dollar question!) … Do you have a favorite Friday movie AND a favorite mask that Jason has worn?
“Well … I must say I’ve loved all the movies in the series, but my favorite movie of all of them has been Friday the 13th part 4: The Final Chapter. I guess it’s because that’s the film where Jason is actually killed off and actually dies. He is utterly ruthless in that film and Ted White did an amazing portrayal as Jason. Following that, my favorite mask of the entire series again is the part 4 mask … The shower scene hockey mask to be specific. That’s the first time in that movie where we actually see Jason’s face in the mask and it’s a very creepy and awesome shot.”
A HUGE thank you to Richard for taking the time to give such insightful answers and for allowing me to share some of his awesome work. You can keep up to date with information on his latest creations by going here … and you’ll also find many more cool pictures. If this is the standard he can create after just a few months, I can’t wait to see what is on the way!
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