Learn how to make a paper mache mask! Over time, there have been many art forms that have become permanent. Paper mache is one of those art forms and the oldest use it has, has been in making facial masks. Whether you have a costume party to go to or want to add some decor to your next themed party, we'll go over the easiest ways to make a paper mache mask. Different types of clays are used to make masks but they usually have a greater learning curve than paper mache. The supplies you need are easily found in art and crafts stores and there is very little drying time, so pretty much you won't have to wait for your masks to be ready for a very long time.
How to Make a Paper Mache Mask – Supplies
Making a mask out of paper mache is a project that is a little more complex than other paper mache projects but you have a lot of creative room to add as many details as you want. You don’t need a whole list of supplies for this project but having them all gathered before you start is a great way to make sure you have fun while making your paper mache mask.
Supplies – Paper Mache
- Any kind of paper (collect all the scraps pieces of paper around your home and cut them into strips)
- All-purpose white glue (wood glue will also work)
- White flour (to add body to the paper and glue)
Supplies – Mask
- Wire sculpting mesh (to get the contours of the face right)
- Blow-up balloon (according to the size you want the mask to be)
- Twine, ribbon, or elastic
- Masking tape
- Mixing bowls
- Paints and sealants
- Sharpie or pencils
- Measuring Tape
How to Make a Paper Mache Mask
Paper mache masks can be used to add décor elements to your home or you may be making one to wear at a costume party. Whatever it is you're making it for, there are two ways to make paper mache masks. A mask that will be worn needs to fit the contours of the face which the wire mesh will help you capture. For a mask that may be used as décor, you don't need very specific measurements and so using the balloon method is the easiest way to make the paper mache mask.
How to Make a paper Mache Mask - Wire Mesh Method
Step 1 – Measure and Cut Mask Shape
With your tape measure, measure the distance from the top of the forehead to the tip of the chin. Also, measure the distance from ear to ear and make a grid on paper with these measurements. Once you have your grid, you can start sketching out the outline of the shape you want your mask to have. Cut around the shape and use that as a guide for your wire mesh. Leave just a slight difference in the paper and the wire mesh measurements as it gives you room to smooth down the edges better in the next steps.
Protect your eyes and make sure the wire doesn't have any sharp bits that can hurt you. When you have your wire mesh cut to shape, gently press it on your face to capture the contours and be careful not to press too hard from that point on. Fix any visible errors and the backbone of your mask is ready to go.
Step 2 – Add Paper Strips
Mix glue and a little bit of flour to make a mixture and cut up your paper into roughly the same sized strips. Place your mask cut-out on a flat surface and start covering it with the dipped paper strips. Don't oversaturate your paper strips as that can lead to breakage but don't skimp on it either. Lay the strips as flat as possible and tear off the strips right at the edges of the mask to give a cleaner look. Add two layers on the top of the wire mesh and let it dry completely. Once the top is dry, repeat the same process on the underside of the mask and let it dry. If there are sharp edges on your mask shape, take strips of paper and seal them in.
Step 3 – Add Details and Finish
Once your mask has completely dried, you can start adding your details and finishing touches. If you want to add 3D elements to your mask, you can use homemade or store-bought paper mache clay. Add your details and let them dry completely before sanding down any rough edges. Prime the whole mask and add paint as per your design. Once your paint has dried, seal it in with a sealant and let dry. Add holes on either side of the mask and tie twine or elastic around to have your mask be ready for wear.
How to Make a Paper Mache Mask - Balloon Method
Step 1 – Cover and Layer
Inflate the balloon to the size you want and set it aside. Get your glue and flour mixture ready and cut your paper into strips. Start covering the balloon in even layers. Again, remember to not oversaturate the paper strips as you add them to the balloon. Once your first layer is dry, you can add another layer on top. Add about 7-8 layers to make sure your mask has structural integrity as this one won't have the wire mesh supporting it. Leave the balloon to dry for a few hours depending on the number of layers you added.
Step 2 – Form the Mask
Once completely dry, carefully pop the balloon with a needle. You don't need to patch up the needle hole as it won't be big enough to notice and you can always cover it up by cutting the eyes and mouth holes at that point. With the balloon popped, cut the ball shape in half and spread it out. This is where you can cut the shapes you want and make holes for the eyes and the mouth. Also, add two small holes at the sides for your string to go through. Add your string and smooth out any rough edges with your finger or some leftover glue mixture.
Step 3 – Finish the Mask
Now is the time to add all your finishing elements to your mask. If you've added enough layers, you will have the structural integrity to support 3D elements. Add them with paper mache clay or with strips of paper dipped in glue and formed into shapes. Let that dry and prime your surface before adding the paint colors you want. You can be as creative as you want with your décor. Seal it all in with a sealant and your mask is ready.
BONUS – How to Make Paper Mache mask from Clay
If you do want to add details on your masks with paper mache clay, here is the easiest way to make some at home.
- Shredded paper
- Hot Water
- Mixing Bowls
- Hand Blender
- Take some scraps of paper and soak them in water for a few hours or overnight. Add just enough water to cover the paper you have but don’t overdo it.
- Blend the paper and water mixture into a pulpy mixture with the hand blender and make sure you get each and every piece of paper in there.
- Take handfuls and start squeezing the water out of the paper mixture. Squeeze gently but firmly so all the residual water is taken out but some still remain. This will help you not add more water later.
- Once you have dry paper balls, break them down into smaller pieces and make sure they are roughly the same size. The crumbled paper mash is what will turn into the clay so make them as small as possible.
- Add some salt and flour to the paper crumbles and just enough water to help it form into clay. Mix and add more water if need be. Stop when the paper starts to form into clay and hold its shape.
- Once your clay has formed, you can store it in the refrigerator and bring it out when you are ready to add details to your masks.
How to Make a Paper Mache Mask – In Conclusion
Whether you decide to follow the wire mesh method or the balloon method, learning how to make a paper mache mask is not very difficult. The masks you make will not only be useful for costume parties but will also be great to decorate with at your next party. All the supplies that are used in making paper mache masks are readily available and are very easy to use. Though much more complex than other paper mache projects, this is not something you can't learn very quickly. Make a few masks and try your hand at paper mache before making one for an occasion. Just a few supplies from your nearest arts and crafts store can help you make these masks. The process of making the masks, decorating them, and ultimately wearing them or using them around your home is something that will bring you joy for years to come.