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★ Mask Making Tutorials | How to Make a Paper Mache Halloween Mask with Cardboard & Wire Mesh ★

Updated on January 31, 2015
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Sculpt, Paint, Decorate & Sew Your Own Masks

Making masks is something most kids have done, whether at school or at home, and no doubt lots of adults have made masks too! It's a very fun (and cheap) rainy day or party activity, and for adults it's a great project if like to dress up for fancy dress parties and Halloween adventures :)

On this page I have included a tutorial showing how I made a face mask from card, wire mesh and paper mache, which is one of a huge variety of techniques you can try. I've also provided links to many more design ideas, mask-making methods and even free printables.

I hope you enjoy the page and I hope it inspires you to have a go!

Detailed Bane Mask

Awesome mask spotted at a Comic Con event. This is an example of a 'high-end' type of mask which a lot of time has obviously gone into. Skill and patience is required to make a replica mask like this one, but it is achievable!
Awesome mask spotted at a Comic Con event. This is an example of a 'high-end' type of mask which a lot of time has obviously gone into. Skill and patience is required to make a replica mask like this one, but it is achievable! | Source

A Selection of Fun Mask Kits for Kids

These crafty kits provide all the fun bits 'n' bobs children need to make and decorate their only awesome masks! Perfect for a party activity too.

Carnival Mask

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Step 1 of Mask Making

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Creating the base of the mask is always the first step. The base is often felt or cardboard, but in this case I have used a wire mesh that is designed for modelling purposes.

Once a base is created, it can then be built up with more card, newspaper, paper mache, wire, or clay if desired, or you can leave it plain.

The last step is the 'finishing and embellishment' step which can be in the form of paint, sequins, feathers, beads or anything else you wish.

Fine Wire Mesh for Modelling

I would recommend that you try to find a fine and bendable mesh for your mask project, and try to make sure that it can be molded with your hands. The wire mesh I used did the job but it was too stiff really and I would go for something more easy to manipulate next time.

Also, it's best to wear work gloves and eye protection when handling wire mesh as the edges are sharp. Always best to be safe than sorry!

AMACO AMA50004D 1/16" Aluminum Wire Form Metal Mesh, 16" x 20"
AMACO AMA50004D 1/16" Aluminum Wire Form Metal Mesh, 16" x 20"

This particular product looks like an ideal choice for the mask base, as it is a fine mesh and is designed to enable fine detailing and easy shaping.

 

Step 2: Molding the Mask Shape

I took a sheet of the mesh and carefully tried to shape the sheet onto the contours of my face. It doesn't need to fit accurately; you just want the basic shape so that the mask curves around your face rather than being flat.

The difficult bit was creating the space for my nose, as a gentle curve wouldn't do; it had to be a substantial indent (especially for my big nose!) I used wire cutters to cut out sections of the mesh where necessary for shaping, and then I overlapped the wire ends on the newly made edges to join them back together again.

You'll need to remove excess mesh in this way in any area that needs much shaping. You can see in the photo that I cut and re-joined the mesh down the center line only, excluding the nose area in order to make it protrude.

The last step is to cut the outside border of the mesh to the size you want the mask base to be. In this example I wanted full face coverage but no more; I can always build the mask up to make it bigger in later stages.

The last bit of this step was to paper mache small strips of newspaper onto the front of the mask and leave it to dry.

The Paper Mache on the Front of the Mask

Close-ups of the front.

I did a few layers of the paper mache to make it stable. I also make quite a severe curve at the top of the mask to cover my forehead and make it easier later on to attach a wig to the mask. Shape your own mask how you want it to look - there are no rules!

The Inside of the Mask

A close-up photo to show where I cut and shaped the mesh. It can take quite a bit of time to do this, with lots of tweaking here and there and continuously holding the mask up to my face to check the progress. The mesh I used was a bit stiff though; it would be easier with softer materials.

The Paper Mache Mix I Used

I bought this 'Scola Cell extra strong cellulose adhesive powder' as a pre-made paper mache mix (off Ebay). I just had to mix some of the powder with water in a pot, following the instructions.

Paper Mache Mix

Wheat Paste Powder 8 Ounces-
Wheat Paste Powder 8 Ounces-

Just mix with water to make a paste and away you go!

 

Step 3: Paper Mache the Base

I paper mached both sides of the wire mesh to cover it completely, making sure to cover the sharp edges well.

Step 4: Building up the Features

I decided that I wanted a crazy-looking face on my mask, so I set about scrunching and rolling pieces of newspaper into different shapes and taping the pieces to the base. Some of the areas like the eyes and the mouth I decided to build up in cardboard first, which you can see in the photos.

Note: Try to use small pieces of tape for this step, and try not to cover too much of the surface with tape. This is because paper mache sticks much easier to paper than tape :)

Mask Making Latex

If you are looking to push the boundaries and learn how to make more realistic masks, you can have a go at experimenting with latex.

Using this material will require a bit more investment in equipment and tools compared to other methods but the results can be very cool. There are excellent books on the subject (and YouTube videos) if you want to learn more.

More Angles

Step 5: Paper Mache Again

I then added another layer or two of paper mache over the taped-on features. I was happy with the shape and look of it so I didn't need to make any more changes. This point is the last point I could have made any design or shape changes.

Step 6: Spray Paint

I took the mask outside, laid it onto some newspaper and spray painted it in white acrylic spray paint. I had to do a few layers so that I could no longer see the newsprint.

The reason I did this was to 'prime' the surface ready for painting the final layer on. If I didn't block out the newsprint now it would show through on the final product unless I used thick paint. It's also much nicer and easier to paint onto a plain white surface.

Acrylic Paints

Acrylic paints are the go-to paints for so many arts and craft projects. I'm going to use acrylic paints to add the final design to my mask.

The First Layer of Spray Paint

The Last Layer of Paint

I used 3 layers to make sure that it was all coated.

To Be Continued....

Paper Mache Masks

A huge variety of faces can be made with the versatile paper mache technique.
A huge variety of faces can be made with the versatile paper mache technique. | Source

Mask Making Books

If you want more ideas for mask designs, or perhaps you want to learn how to use more advanced mask making techniques, then these books will provide you with everything you require!

Have you made a mask before?

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    • wellingtonboot profile image
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      wellingtonboot 2 years ago from U.K.

      Yup, there will be, it's mainly the painting bits left to do. Sorry it's taken a while!

    • profile image

      Arlene McGinness 2 years ago

      Is there going to be an article with the rest of the stages for making this mask?