How to Make a Paper Mache Mask

01
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How to Make a Paper Mache Mask

make a paper mache mask
Rain Blanken

Paper mache is a fun and easy way to sculpt just about anything. The best part is that it only takes a little flour and water to get the job done. Make a strong mask that will fit your face perfectly with this complete photo tutorial.

What You'll Need

  • 1/2 a cup of flour
  • 1 cup of water
  • A large bowl
  • A few pages of newspaper or magazine paper
  • Vaseline or aloe lotion
  • Yarn, hemp, or string to tie on when finished

Once you have all your materials handy, let's get started.

02
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Prepare the Paper Mache

how-to paper mache mask
Tear long strips of paper and mix up the flour solution. Rain Blanken

Mix your flour and water together in the large bowl. Stir it up well, but it doesn't have to be perfectly blended.

Rip a few pages of newspaper or magazine pages. You can also use all those coupon papers that come in the mail. If you are having trouble ripping the strips of paper, try rotating the paper 90 degrees. It's much easier to rip nice long strips of paper when you are ripping along the grain.

If you are using glossy coated pages like in a magazine, then you'll have to soak each strip a few seconds longer in the flour solution.

The number of paper strips depends on the size of the face you are making a mask on. It's better to have more than you think you'll need.

 

03
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Prepare the Face

how-to paper mache mask
Cover all areas that have hair. Rain Blanken

This might sound silly at first, but you also have to prepare the face that you'll be making a mask on so you'll need a willing subject. If you want to make a mask but don't want to mold it to your face, try using a balloon, instead. 

To prevent the dried flour from sticking to the skin and hair, you will need to coat the edges of the hairline, eyebrows, and upper lip with Vaseline or aloe gel.

When you've slathered your friend with goo, it's time to start covering the face with strips.

04
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Lay the First Strips

how-to paper mache mask
Lay large strips as indicated. Rain Blanken

You may think that layering the strips is self-explanatory, but there is really a right way and a wrong way to do it. We will take you through a method that will create a durable mask.

First, lay wide strips along the jawline, forehead and the bridge of the nose. These are the foundation for your mask.

 

05
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Lay the Second Group of Strips

how-to paper mache mask
Begin to cover the sides of the mouth and chin. Rain Blanken

  • Lay a wide strip above the first forehead strip.
  • Lay a longer strip over the existing strip on the nose.
  • Put two vertical short, wide strips on either side of the mouth.
  • Lay another long, wide strip over the nose. This will secure the tops of the two vertical pieces on the sides of the mouth.
  • Lay a long, wide strip over the chin, covering the bottoms of the two vertical pieces on either side of the mouth. Continue to cover the nose.

06
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Cover the Bridge of the Nose

how-to paper mache mask
Make a strong mask by crossing vertical strips with horizontal strips. Rain Blanken

Now you'll cover the bridge of the nose and lay more strips around the face.

  • Use a long, wide strip of paper and lay it vertically to cover the forehead and bridge of the nose. Use your fingertips to smooth the edges of the paper down to form around the nose.
  • Lay another thick strip across the forehead to secure the vertical strip you just placed on the nose.
  • Lay vertical strips along the temples and cheeks.
  • Repeat the method of securing the vertical strips by laying horizontal strips where needed.

 

07
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Cover the Upper Lip

how-to paper mach mask
Carefully cover the upper lip area. Rain Blanken

To cover the upper lip area, you'll need to use a thin and strong piece of paper.

  • Fold a long strip of soaked paper in half lengthwise. Center it over the upper lip and smooth it down. Don't worry about how the shape of the mouth looks now. You can cut it after the mask dries.
  • Remember to lay vertical strips along the cheeks and the sides of the mouth to hold this piece in place.
  • Repeat this step to add an identical piece on top and layer more vertical pieces at the ends to secure.

 

08
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Finish the Nose

how-to paper mache mask
Create a septum by laying a thin strip down the middle of the nose. Rain Blanken

For some masks, you'll want to cover the nose completely. Make sure that your subject has a good mouth hole to breathe out of if you are planning on layering over the nose.

To create nose holes, you'll need to lay a thin strip over the bridge of the nose. Fold a small strip of paper in half after it has been soaked. Fold again if needed to fit the width of the septum (the septum is the skin between your nostrils). This strip of paper should reach from the top of the nose to the top lip.

Cover the upper lip and the bridge of the nose with horizontal strips to secure. Make an 'X' between the eyes with long strips of paper.

 

09
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Finish the Mask

how-to paper mache mask
The finished mask should have coating of large strips. Rain Blanken

To create a smooth look for the finished mask, lay a final layer of very large strips of paper.​​

Let your mask dry overnight. It may seem pretty dry after a few hours, but it really needs to be left alone overnight to create a nice, hard shell. Once it is dry, you can cut the eye, nose and mouth holes to form frowns, smiles or whatever you like.

What you do with your mask is now up to you. If you want to paint it, use acrylic paints. Watercolor paint will not be thick enough to cover the words and pictures on the newspaper pages.

For masks with horns, teeth, wrinkles or other solid features, you can mold additional paper mache onto the mask when it's done.