Aug 02

Learn How To Make A Papier-Mache Mask

How To Make A Papier-Mache Mask (courtesy of

Make a papier-mache mask for Halloween, a masquerade party, Carnival time or anytime! You will need:

An old tablecloth
A work smock
A clean, empty plastic gallon jug – labels removed
Strong scissors
Craft knife
An elastic band
White computer paper
Unbleached flour or glue
Acrylic paint

Step 1 – Cover your workspace with an old tablecloth or sheets of newspaper, and wear something to protect your clothes, like a smock.

Step 2 – With strong scissors, cut the plastic jug in half, lengthwise. Turn the jug upside down. The handle will serve as the mask’s nose. Cut holes for your eyes and mouth with a craft knife. Cut a small hole on each side of the mask, at ear level, for an elastic band.

Step 3 – Tear newspaper and white computer paper into strips, about 1 inch x 6 inches. Shredding the paper by hand works better than cutting it. You’ll need enough pieces to cover your mask with 3 layers of newspaper and 1 layer of computer paper, plus some extra paper for molding facial features.

Step 4 – Whisk 2 cups of flour and 1 cup of water into a paste, adding a bit more of either, if needed, to reach a gluey consistency. You can also use glue, thinned out with water.

Step 5 – One by one, dip a newspaper strip into the paste, shake off the access and lay it flat against the mask horizontally, taking care not to cover the holes. Overlap each strip with w new one. When you finish the first layer, let it dry completely before putting on the next one. This time, apply the strips vertically. If you’re putting away your project for the night, store the unused paste in the refrigerator. The next day, microwave it for one minute before using.

Step 6 – Apply the strips for the 3rd layer horizontally. After you’ve applied 3 layers, mold some of the newspaper strips into features, like cheekbones and eyebrows.

Step 7 – Make the last layer out of the torn computer paper, applying the strips vertically. The white paper will give you a blank canvas for creating your character. If you live in a damp climate, you can dry the mask on a lightly-oiled cookie sheet in an oven set to Warm. Check on the mask after about 30 minutes.

Step 8 – When the mask is completely dry, decorate it with paint, feathers, glitter, sequins, beads, fabric, rhinestones, or whatever will make it your own!

Did you know? At 12 to 16 feet tall and several feet wide, the Igbo ijele mask is one of the largest ceremonial masks made in Africa!



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