Laser Thursday: Masquerade Masks using Sting Ray

My old team at Google had some extra +1s leftover and kindly invited me to their holiday party. They theme this year is a Masquerade Ball, so I thought a couple of masquerade masks for my wife and I would make a nice Laser Thursday project.

When I mentioned this to Dan, he was adamant I used some mini sting ray skins he had gotten a few months ago but hadn’t gotten around to using. It’s essentially sting ray leather. I found the design for the asymmetric mask somewhere on Google images; the more flowery one was bought from a design on Etsy. Both had to be modified in Adobe Illustrator to remove most of their internal holes, since it would result in insufficient thermal mass. Or something. I don’t know. I’m just a software guy.

I spent a good part of the evening running experiments (actually, I spent a good part of the evening waiting for my turn — it was a big turnout tonight), and after many 1" squares at various speeds, I finally determined that the best cut would be achieved from the back, which has a felt-like feel, rather than the front, which is pebbly in texture.

I didn’t cut any string holes; at Dan’s suggestion, I’m going to use spirit gum to affix it to my face. I cut out a separate version of my wife’s mask on card stock; she’s going to try to add some stiffness to her mask so she can attach it to her glasses. Good luck with that, I say.

I’ll upload final images of the masks adorned sometime after tomorrow night.


Wow. Now here are some ancient materials :slight_smile: (Rayskin is often used for the handles of japanese swords!)

Can we see how the fit is?


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Whoa…now there’s a material I never even imagined using! That texture is amazing- can’t wait to see how they look on! I’ve been steadily growing my Christmas list with materials in preparation for my 'Forge…I can only imagine what the relatives will think when they see ‘sting ray skins’ :laughing:

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THAT’S SO FRIGGEN COOL!! The possibilities are endless…


Insufficient thermal mass? Que?

@shaug looked amazing in the final product - hopefully he’ll post the pictures here soon.

Thanks, @dan. Specifically, my wife looked amazing. She opted to go glasses-free, but used parts of the the card-stock version to provide some support at the bridge to add some feathers. We both used spirit gum to attach the masks to our faces, which meant we were committed to them for the rest of the evening. Well, until I sweated mine off after a night of vigorous dancing.


OK, I have one question here - the little silver eye shapes on the surface - was that the original color and you did an overall ‘etch’ to blacken the rest, or paint it, or what? I have seen stingrays before, and they weren’t black with silver eye shapes on them!

From an exotic leather shop for sting ray skin.


As @rpegg shows, that silver eye shape was on the original material. We didn’t modify or treat the leather side at all. In fact, I would’ve preferred to align the masks so that the ‘eye’ shape was in the middle bridge of the masks, but as mentioned, it was easier to ensure a consistent cut on the back side of the material, which was more important on m y limited time frame.

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Definitely a plus one for a sting ray Glowforge mascot. I’m sold.


That is too cool!

Of course I cannot condone every Glowforge owner rushing out and getting this stuff, we could inadvertently push this unfortunately stunning (pun not intended) species to extinction for the sake of vanity with our numbers! :cry:

Also, the lasering process makes it smell not unlike a dead sting ray, which is problematic if your end goal is to glue it to your face.

Consider a febreeze finishing session or, at the very least, airing it out a bit.


Lets be honest, they smelled like burnt dead sting rays. :weary:


You’d think that lasering standard cow leather would smell like a burger… but it does not.

The stingrays are eaten for food, so the leather is a byproduct.


Awesome! This would’ve been real nice a few Halloweens ago for my son’s “Incredibles” costume… Everything I see this machine cranking out just makes the anticipation grow exponentially!