Interview: Josh Stephenson, DEAD END HOLLOW Masks

Posted 23 Apr 2024 in Interviews, Merchandise

Josh Stephenson has been very busy lately, creating some truly unique and exciting masks depicting our favorite characters from the Friday the 13th series. His vision is to create not only completely screen accurate masks of the different incarnations of Jason Voorhees, but to offer masks of several characters within the movies that normally would not have their likeness used in such a hobby. Josh also plans to create masks of many other classic horror monsters outside of the Friday the 13th franchise. Josh was nice enough to answer some of our questions about how he got into the mask making hobby, what it takes to create these life-like masks and where he sees this endeavor taking him in the future!

1.Tell us a little bit about your background in mask-making. Did you have schooling or is it a hobby that was self taught?

Well, I’m mostly self- taught in terms of the sculpting side of it. For overall mask making how-to, I just searched forums, bought handbooks, and watched some instructional videos. It’s really just a matter of artists, or would-be artists, picking up all the necessary information along the way about sculpting, mold making, painting, and whatever other little tricks of the trade, from other artists. Just something you might naturally do in any hobby that requires some level of commitment to detail and process. Mask making tends to be a little of both worlds there, and always learning and doing things to hopefully improve on your next one. I did take a few online courses from a Madame Tussaud’s (Wax Museum) sculptor once, and I wouldn’t mind taking Jordu Schell’s classes sometime when scheduling permits.

2. What made you decide to create sculpts and masks of Friday the 13th characters?

pamelaAll the potential money to be made, of course! Just kidding. Mask making can be very psychological; the spirit of the subject you choose to sculpt could be lurking just underneath the thin veneer of your socially acceptable personality’s exterior, so maybe it’s more about projection. Maybe I chose Jason or Ralph because I subconsciously desire to inflict sadistic revenge on others, or warn them of their impending doom? Haha sorry. No, seriously though… Quite frankly, making a Jason, Freddy, Michael or Leatherface mask is a pretty well worn cliché in the mask making game nowadays. They’ve all been so overdone, so many times, by a continuum of artists, some people no longer see the point or originality in any of it. Like it or not, they’re classic horror icons that will keep getting churned out , sequel after sequel, remake after remake…though who’s to say how much longer Hollywood can get away with this practice. I find that many collectors favor the “most accurate” representation of any one of the individual film appearance(s) of these characters, thus making one particular mask either highly sought after or at least well received enough to make someone want to buy it from you. The level of detail that goes into making any character likeness, totally or near screen accurate, is what it’s about for me right now. There are some mask artists who cringe when they hear those words, “ screen accurate.” Like if their own personal stamp of creativity isn’t put into the piece then it’s almost some sort of insult. If that’s not their bag, good for them! So far I think I’m a pretty fair way off from claiming even a 95% likeness for sculpts, especially ones that I rush through . As with each one of the major franchise horror characters, Jason’s face changes so much throughout the sequels. I’ve always just wanted to have my own personal take on the look of Jason as he appeared in each film sitting on my shelf, plus the challenge of getting each sculpt to look as accurate as I can get it. I’m not always happy with the outcome, and I consistently find new things I didn’t see the first time around. Other people who see my work in forums will sometimes be very forthcoming with this information, too. Then again, some won’t, and they’ll simply ignore the effort and continue to focus on whatever mask they happen to be partial to. Sometimes I have to sit back and laugh at the ridiculousness of it, but when I do take things seriously online it’s usually a case of people not knowing what the hell they’re talking about, and or because of the amount of time and work that goes into making these things for the unappreciative, passive types (not buyers or customers, people who just seem to refuse to acknowledge you) or because of the hearsay and BS that permeates this hobby. Or people who are cool to you one day, and totally ignore you the next. It can be a very cliquey sort of hobby, and sometimes people seem to spite you in this most subtle of ways, that’s my perception, anyway. It is satisfying though, when people appreciate your work enough to want to display it in their room. I don’t know, I’m just a huge fan of the Friday the 13th series, most especially parts I-VI, I love the atmosphere in these movies. I think it’s the forest setting where the films take place, the feeling of isolation. I also wanted to attempt some of the characters that haven’t been done yet, like Crazy Ralph, Pam Voorhees and Tommy Jarvis. Aside from horror, I’ve always liked the whole ‘80’s camp or summer camp sub genre for some reason. I guess making these things gives me some kind of connection to the time period and locations where these films were made, or at least they remind me of days gone by, you know, my own youthful summer camp experiences, late night Friday the 13th on VHS.

3. What has been your favorite character to create up to this point?

part3So far, my favorite Friday the 13th character would definitely be my new upcoming part III Jason. It’s my favorite of his looks from all the films. Again, I wasn’t entirely satisfied with my first effort. I’ve got a half scale sort of maquette of the part 3 that I’m going to release as a resin bust, and this next part 3 mask sculpt will takes some cues from that while maintaining a sort of “smile in it’s infancy” expression, keeping the focus on the Brooker BTS makeup chair shots. I feel like Jason was laughing at his victims as he killed them throughout part 3, especially Chris Higgins. He’s this hulking, retarded manchild who is easily amused by slaughtering people by the dozen. The part 2 Jason and Crazy Ralph are a close second and third. So far, my favorite non Friday the 13th character I’ve done would be a mask sculpt I did several years ago of Rocky Dennis, the disfigured teen whom the film “Mask” was based on.

4. What type of materials did you have to gather in order to create these masks?

Full head mask making requires basically four things: Clay (water or oil based), a head armature, Ultracal 30 (mold making plaster), and obviously LATEX… five things if you’re trying to achieve a likeness: obtain good reference photographs of your subject from as many angles as possible, that’s always crucial. Of course there’s much more to it than that, as you will need an airbrush, air compressor, latex based mask paints, acrylics, sealers, glues, and a host of other items and materials in order to finish them appropriately. Burlap strips for mold reinforcement, dental acrylic, crepe or different types of hair, plastic eyes, sculpting tools, etc.

5. How did you decide to start the process of creating the sculpts for the masks? Did you create sketches or use reference shots from the movie?

If it’s a movie related character I usually just print off as many reference pictures I can find of them in an image search, use pictures from books, or just pop in whatever DVD and hit pause when it shows a good closeup of the character. Screen caps, so as to go frame by frame if I think I might be missing something. It’s also handy to find a picture of the exact expression you want your sculpture to have, preferably sized to approximate the dimensions of the head you’re working on. Sometimes I’ll get a pic or two blown up that really help in this regard. Having a mirror handy is also good for checking your work. As for other more personally creative types of faces and creatures, sometimes I’ll sketch something out and follow that idea, but l find I’m more interested in likenesses straight from the source.

6. Specifically, can you list out the steps in the molding and sculpting process?

In my case, it was a fairly tedious progression from making a complete mess into a learned skill where I now know what to anticipate. Patience is most definitely key. Obviously you’re going to want to take your time and try to do it right the first time around, but for beginners there’s a learning curve that will depend on your commitment to seeing the project through to completion, with perhaps much frustrating trial and error. When I first started, I flat out sucked at mold making, my masks were too small, my molds would crack, break, leak and spill latex all over the place, I’d get latex and plaster all over myself, and I would get all kinds of air bubbles and bad pulls. Persistence will pay off in the long run. Listing every single step in detail would be overkill here, but here are the basics, courtesy of

A.) The first step in creating a latex rubber Halloween mask is to sculpt a pattern either in Water based, or Oil-based clay. The clay is applied to a lifecast armature and roughed-out to establish the general shape. Gradually, as the clay is worked by hand, the sculpture begins to resemble your design idea. As the clay sculpture nears completion, sculpting tools are used to sculpt realistic details. The entire sculpting process can take several hours, days, weeks, or months to complete. Once the clay sculpture is finished, it is ready to be molded.


B.) In order to transfer the clay form into latex rubber (RD-407), it is first necessary to make a two piece mold out of an industrial gypsum called Ultra Cal 30. The mold is a perfect three dimensional copy of the sculpture, except in reverse. Gypsum is used because of its porous nature which allows water from the liquid latex rubber to soak into it. To make the mold, a dividing wall is put in place to divide the front and back halves of the sculpture. Gypsum is applied evenly to both halves until a sufficient thickness is achieved. Once the mold is complete, the two halves are separated and the clay is cleaned from the mold. The mold is then placed back together, bound, and made ready for the next stage…

C.) All that remains of our original sculpture is captured in the mold imprint. Our goal now is to recreate the sculpture in rubber. For this we use RD-407, a special liquid latex casting compound called slush latex or mask latex. Mask latex does not require heat to turn into a solid because it is a Room Temperature Vulcanized Rubber (RTV Elastomer), which means it sets and cures at normal room temperature. Pour the liquid mask latex into your mold, allow it to dwell in the mold for a while, then pour the excess material back into your bucket of latex . The latex which remains in the gypsum mold forms a skin that evenly coats the interior of the mold. When this mask latex skin is dry, peel it gently from the mold.


D.) To complete the mask, a rubber-based latex mask paint is applied with an airbrush. Once a color scheme is chosen, an overall color called the base coat is applied first. Next, a shading color is sprayed into all of the lowpoints of the mask to simulate shadows. Highlight paint is used in a similar manner except that it is sprayed onto the highpoints of the mask to simulate light hitting the surface. To finish the mask, eyes and teeth are painted along with any other fine details. Lastly, a protective, clear flexible varnish called Perma-Wet is applied to give a natural (or unnatural, depending on your monster!) shine. This also acts to preserve your mask for years to come.

7. Was your original intent to keep the masks you made and then the hobby progressed into sales? Or has this venture always been something to the effect of half business, half pleasure?

I messed around with sculpting for a few years before I decided to give masks a try. I guess there’s a point where you figure what you’ve made could be good enough to attempt to sell it. As for business or pleasure, it’s a little of both. Honestly, if I could make steady income this way, then what could be a better job? Problem is, it isn’t steady whatsoever. One has to be realistic pertaining to their income and budget, abilities, commitment level, and business sense. That last one was definitely acquired the hard way for me, but I learned from that experience. I always want to keep a finished copy or a blank or two of whatever piece I’ve made, but I always end up selling the stuff I intend to keep.

8. Did you have to take on investors to create these masks or has your work all been independently financed?

It’s all done out of pocket, for the most part. I’ve done a few commissions for other mask artists, though most of my meager body of work thus far has been the result of a desire to prove myself, to myself. I generally don’t like working on something I’m not really into. If I were sculpting for a company doing prototype/design work or whatever, I wouldn’t mind so much. You can probably attest to masks being a fairly expensive hobby, from both from the collector’s side and the mask makers side.

9. What projects do you have on the horizon? Are there going to be anymore non-Jason characters to look forward to?

Yes. I’ve got several sculpts going right now… Currently in the works I have, in various states of progress: Karloff Frankenstein, Lon Chaney Jr. Wolfman, Pam Voorhees (both Betsy Palmer likeness and part 2 decapitated “shrine” version), Boy Jason, new Jason 3, half scale Jason 3, Dr. Zaius from Planet of the Apes, an Alfred Hitchcock mini bust, and a few other surprises. As far as other secondary Friday characters, I’d like to do a Cory Feldman bald Tommy Jarvis, maybe some characters as they appeared in their death scene, like Axel, or even the Chubby Hitchhiker girl from Final Chapter. I wish there were some kind of reference material to do Jason’s Father, Elais Voorhees. Maybe I’ll just make him up or something like Jeremy Bohr did for his JGTH masks.

10. In the end, was all of the work and money spent worth the experience?

Guess I can’t really say until the end! … but my wife would likely give you a big fat NO on that one.

11. Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions and I wish you all the luck in the future!

Thanks, see ya at Camp Blood!

To find out more information or to contact Josh, visit his website, or send him an email at Big thanks to Josh for taking the time to answer our questions and give fans of the series more insight into the hobby of mask making!


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Posted by jasonsfury


  1. SirBrad (23 Apr 2024, 10:40)

    Great article! Love that part 2 Jason, may have to get that for my next life-sized!

  2. josh (23 Apr 2024, 17:19)

    Thanks for the interview Jason. Don’t worry about having any replies…it can be like that. Makes it all worthwhile.

  3. josh (23 Apr 2024, 17:21)

    …Thank you SirBrad, bTW

  4. jasonsfury (23 Apr 2024, 19:03)

    Thanks for the interview Jason

    Not a problem, Josh. You do an awesome job!

  5. JB Demented (23 Apr 2024, 19:26)

    They all look awesome, especially the part 3 Jason mask. Very good work.

  6. DVS (23 Apr 2024, 19:31)

    omg really lovin the part 3!!!! by far the best i’ve seen!! puts the itz-u to shame even unpainted!! i NEED 1 of those

  7. Jasonlivessince1980 (23 Apr 2024, 23:02)

    WOW I can’t wait to see that new part 3 done, nice work Josh

  8. SPAZ (24 Apr 2024, 0:50)

    great interview
    cant wait to get my hands on the TripleH

  9. Wickedbeard (24 Apr 2024, 1:44)

    Lovin that 2 Josh, but the part 3 is especially sick bro.I would love to have that for my suit someday.To be able to take the hock off and flash that face would be priceless at the cons.
    I always check your work out on the boards, and it all rocks brotha, keep it up!!!

  10. Josh (24 Apr 2024, 10:51)

    Thanks for the comments everyone, more F13th stuff coming at ya soon.

  11. SkaryMoviez (25 Apr 2024, 13:33)

    Very talented, indeed!

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