Friday, July 22, 2011

Paper Mache' Masks

Do you like them scary?

Every culture has a history of masks... what a great way to study or identify with the world's people!
For a whole selection and history of masks, Masks of the World is a great place for ideas.

Here's how we created ours...

Usually the cooked paste ratio for papier mache paste is one part flour to five parts water. I took a guess at how much I'd need, and used 3 3/4 cups water and 3/4 cup of flour.

I boiled the water, and then whisked in the flour, and let it cook for three minutes, whisking every little while to keep it smooth.
Then I turned off the heat, and let it sit for a while to cool.

I called to Maddie, and then blew up a balloon about the same size as her face, and then one for Trev, and then one for me, as well-- tying them as close to the end as I could, to leave them as much room for bounce (and not popping) as possible.

I found a bowl that seemed like a good fit, and took it outside to hold each balloon while I was working. That worked pretty well!

If your children like to create papier mache' then by all means let them do it, mine don't enjoy the mess of it. (And I'm quite willing to do this step for them in the name of Create!. :) )

Maddie's was the first one I did, and as I didn't mark the balloon, and I ended up covering much more of the balloon than I needed to...
For Trev's I marked with a permanent marker the half-way point all the way around the balloon - it significantly cut down on the work, and this time it went much faster.

I alternated the layers, one across with paste,

one down with paste,

one across without paste (they were pretty gooey by this time,

and for the last layer I used paste again and Maddie's white scratch paper that had been drawn on, but that weren't treasures. (Her box of scratch paper certainly comes in handy!)

That last white layer is to cut way down on the paint when it's time to decorate. I'm thinking you could do the last layer with colored construction paper? or brown craft paper, depending on your decorating plan.

I hung each one up as I was finished on the clothes line, under the tree so they wouldn't get too hot under direct sun, but would dry quickly.

And then we waited!
(And guess what!?! Only about 1/4 cup of paste to spare! :) )

* * *

Later that night balloons had deflated, and in the morning the masks were a bit misshapen.
No problem--I just wet them a little with water, reformed them (I put balls in them to round them out; they were long and skinny) and let them dry again for a bit.

That worked. Cool.


After they were dry again this morning, we cut holes for the eyes.
I gave Madd a marker, and asked her to point to her eyes, with them closed, with the marker. I needed to see if she could do it accurately; she did, so we put the mask over her face, and I had her do it again with the marker tip open.

I cut eyes around that spot with a utility knife.

Maddie decided upon a bird, so I cut a rounded triangle out of orange construction paper, and made a cone.
To attach it to the mask, I cut little slits, alternating them so I could tuck some under (not visible) and some over, to glue to the mask.

We painted over the glued part of the beak, first -attaching the beak with gluedots! woohoo!- and then she started designing and painting.

I finally decided that I'd like some sort of brown Africa/India Goddess sort of mask, so I mixed up a glue solution of 1/2 Elmers, half water.
I thought it would be lovely with brown craft paper, so I got that out and tore it (with the grain) into strips.

I used the paint markers we got from or Elmer's Kids Craft Camp package for my designing,
(the give-away is still going on for your own supplies... enter here!)

and then added glitter glue for further embellishment.

Madd has some lovely shells and wooden beads, so I added some to the sides for more decoration.

If you've made them for wearing, just prick or punch holes in the side and string them for tying, of if, like us, you have an art wall for displaying, you can do so easily by tearing off just a tab of paper, and gluing it to the inside of the top, and clipping or hanging it from the other end.

We're still waiting on Trevy to finish his.... :)
We'll be sure to show you what he comes up with!

This will go to Saturday's Artist!


  1. I love them. You do the most wonderful crafts.

  2. I am bookmarking this! This would be so much fun to do with our history lessons sometime.

  3. Fantastic! I am booking marking this too!


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!