Recycled Metal Masks

Tips for making a funky metal mask.

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Project by Alan Brundrett from Azle, Texas.

After watching a television show, Alan was inspired to learn to weld. He started exploring the junkyard and was intrigued by the numerous metal barrels he found. He began to experiment with the round metal by combining heat and different painting techniques. The results turned into funky masks with a style all their own. In this project, Alan makes a metal wall-hanging mask out of 55-gallon steel drums.


assorted colors spray paint
white high-temp spray paint
clear spray lacquer
acetylene and oxygen cutting torch
permanent marker
55-gal. steel barrel (used)
tinted safety glasses
leather gloves
flat glass marbles (black)
flat-head screwdriver
super-strong adhesive


1. First make sure your steel barrel is clean and dry. If using a used barrel, make absolutely sure that no flammable substances were stored in it because they will ignite!

2. Spray a very light coat of the high-temp paint over the barrel. Then start misting the other colors on top while the high-temp paint is still wet. Use one color at a time and use two or three different colors.

3. When the paint is dry, draw a design on the painted area with your permanent marker. Be sure to leave a small amount of metal at the edge of the eyes to secure them to the face. Also, leave the top of the nose uncut. The mouth should be completely cut out.

4. Wait 30 to 45 minutes for the paint to dry. It should be dry to the touch but not completely through for the colors to blend well.

5. Lay the barrel on its side for the cutting process. You will need blocks on either side to hold it still. Make sure to wear tinted safety glasses. The acetylene pressure should be set to 4-5 psi and the oxygen to 25 psi. When you are cutting, be sure to control what the flames touch. If the flame contacts the painted area, it will scorch.

6. Start by cutting out the facial features before the outline. Cut along the lines of the design you drew on the barrel earlier. Do not try to cut too fast or you will also scorch the paint. Cut with the flame at an angle to blow away the molten steel. When you are done cutting, allow the barrel to cool completely.

7. You may need to separate the mask from the barrel after cutting. Sometimes the molten steel will attach to the mask. You should be able to break any welded area with a flat-blade screwdriver. Do not try to go back over it with the cutting torch. Place the screwdriver in the crack by the welded area and turn to break it free.

8. When the mask is removed, you may choose to clean it or leave it as is. The cutting leaves a white line around the cut area that some people like. Alan usually leaves the line on the hair and removes it on the face. The line will come off by placing the mask in the water and gently wiping it off with a sponge.

9. When the mask is completely dry, spray on a coat of the clear lacquer. You should spray three to four coats on the mask until is has a shiny finish. Also spray the back to prevent rusting. Let dry overnight.

10. Finally, use the super-strong adhesive to attach the glass marbles to the eyes.


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