Ever since NHL goalie Jim Rutherford added a little paint to his mask in the 1960s, puckstoppers the world over have relished in the ritual of personalizing their mask with their own artwork. Skulls, flames, monsters, team mascots, famous faces and simple stars have all adorned masks over the decades. Professional mask painting is a big business that can command prices up to $1,000. If you’re not familiar with airbrushing, with a little patience and some work, creating your own mask design with the old fashioned painting method will be sure to get you noticed on the ice.
1. Decide on elements that say something about your personality or playing style that can translate into art. Common choices are an animal, favorite team theme, fire or a brick wall. Sketch two or three designs, keeping the designs simple. Busy artwork won’t stand out and will be difficult to paint on your own.
2. Once your design is done, re-sketch your decision, drawing only the artwork and no elements of the mask (this will make it less confusing when painting). Sketch to scale, and draw the design in two dimensions so it reflects all sides of the mask at once for quick reference.
3. Prep your mask by removing all straps, buckles and attachments (including the mask cage if you’re painting a modern mask). Use the sandpaper to smooth any burrs or nicks in the mask’s surface. Use the masking tape to cover eye and vent holes, taping from the inside of the mask. For modern masks, taping a plastic bag on the inside of the mask to cover the cage opening is recommended to prevent painting the mask’s interior.
4. If painting the mask a base color is part of your design, do so with your choice color of spray paint. Allow to dry, then apply one to two more coats. Once fully dry, use the masking tape to cover the base coat to conform to the largest part of your artwork and spray accordingly. Allow to dry.
5. Repeat the above step for each color in your design, allowing each coat to dry fully between applications and removing any masking tape as your design dictates. Once all is dry, carefully remove all masking tape. Allow additional drying time of at least a few hours before applying the clear coat, which will aid in protecting the paint against smudges and chips.