ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Holidays and Celebrations»
  • Central & South American Holidays

Make a Day of the Dead Mask for Dia de los Muertos

Updated on January 1, 2015

Dia de los Muertos Mask

Dia de los Muertos Mask
Dia de los Muertos Mask | Source

How to Make Dia de los Muertos Masks

Face masks part of the celebrations of Dia de los Muertos or the Day of the Dead, a holiday celebrated in from late October to early November in Mexico, parts of the U.S. and many other Latin America countries.

The Day of the Dead is the time of the year when friends and family gather to gather, honor and celebrate the memory of those who have died.

As part of colorful Dia de los Muertos costumes, celebrators often wear ornately decorated face masks in the shapes of skulls or the devil, el diablo.

There are many ways to make a Day of the Dead mask from the very simple partial face mask to the more ornately decorated full face mask.

Making a mask from the start or decorating a premade mask is a fun way to get into the spirit of this international celebration. It can also be a fun educational activity for teachers to share with their classes as part of learning more about different cultural holidays like Dia de los Muertos.

Creating your own Day of the Dead mask is also a fun project to share with kids or grand kids, while they learn more about this holiday.

Read on to find out some of the different ways to make your own Dia de los Muertos Mask.

Dia de los Muertos Mask by Christian Frausto Bernal. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Decorative Skull Mask

Day of the Dead Decorative Skull Mask
Day of the Dead Decorative Skull Mask | Source

Day of the Dead - Dia de los Muertos

Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a day where the focus is on a celebration of life, not a true day to focus on death. The holiday is considered for many to be the most important one in Mexico and other Latin American countries. Day of the Dead occurs around the same time as Halloween in the United States and also two holidays in the Catholic church—All Saints' Day on November 1 and All Souls' Day on November 2.

This is time of the year when it is believed that the spirits of loved ones who have died, return to earth to spend time with friends and family. Churches and cemeteries are decorated. People build ofrendas or altars to welcome the dead to the celebrations. Events, festivals and parades are held in many countries during Dias de los Muertos.

Skeletons (calacas) and skulls (calaveras) have become symbols of the Day of the Dead and ways to remember the dead. Celebrators dress up as skeletons or calacas, wearing face masks as part of this celebration of those who have died.

The face masks may be done in a few colors, making a black and white skull or brightly colored. Sugar Masks are brightly colored and ornately-decorated like the colorful sugar skulls created and given as gifts to the living and the dead. The masks are worn to hide one's identity or hung up as part of the Dia de los Muertos decorations.

Day of the Dead Decorative Skull Mask by Gruenemann. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Types of Day of the Dead Masks

There are several different types of masks that can be purchased or crafted for use in Dia de los Muertos celebrations.

  1. Premade Masks
  2. Latex Costume Masks
  3. Partial Face Masks
  4. Paper Masks
  5. Paper Mache Masks

Vote on Day of the Dead Masks

How would you rather get a Day of the Dead Mask?

See results

Dia De Los Muertos Decorative Wall Mask

Dia De Los Muertos Wall Mask

White Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Wall Plaque With LED Eyes Dia De Los Muertos
White Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Wall Plaque With LED Eyes Dia De Los Muertos

A unique white Day Of The Dead wall decoration. To make the mask even eerier, the eyes are set with red LED lights that turn on.

The mask can be worn or as a beautiful wall decoration.

Measures 9 5/8 inches long by 7 1/2 inches wide

 

Day of the Dead Decorative Wall Masks on eBay

Some of the wall masks can also be worn as costume masks. Be sure to read the descriptions so you know what you are getting.

Dia de Los Muertos Wearable Mask

Day of the Dead Groom Mask

Day of the Dead Mask Groom Adult
Day of the Dead Mask Groom Adult

A premade Day of the Dead Mask for adults.

Made from 95% Latex and 5% Paint.

 

Wearable Day of the Dead Masks

These latex mask work well with the Day of the Dead costumes.

Womens Day of the Dead Dia De Los Muertos Mask
Womens Day of the Dead Dia De Los Muertos Mask

A woman's latex skull mask for Day of the Dead.

 
Mens Day of the Dead Dia De Los Muertos Mask
Mens Day of the Dead Dia De Los Muertos Mask

A man's latex skull mask for Day of the Dead.

 

Dia de los Muertos Partial Face Masks

Partial Day of the Dead Masks on Amazon

Partial Face Masks

Adult Male Day of the Dead Mask
Adult Male Day of the Dead Mask

A partial (mouth is not covered) face mask for a man.

 

Easy to Make Day of the Dead Paper Masks

Tattooed Skull

Modified Tattooed Skull
Modified Tattooed Skull | Source

Make a Day of the Dead Paper Mask

Paper Day of the Dead Masks can be made a simple, an in between and a more complicated way.

The simple way involves purchasing Paper Day of the Dead masks that have already been colored and decorated. You can start wearing these soon after they are purchased or arrive by delivery.

The in between way involves printing out Day of the Dead skeleton images on cardstock or on paper and coloring them. The paper can be glued to cardboard to make the mask more sturdy.

The more complicated way involves drawing your own graphic images. This is the most creative method and lets everyone explore their imagination. After looking at several different images of the sugar skulls, the next thing to do is to look at a great tutorial. Blog.SpoonGraphics is just one of the many great tutorials showing how you can draw your own sugar skulls.

Tattooed Skull by Ben. From OpenClipart.org

Coloring Printable Day of the Dead Masks

 Art activities at the National Museum of Mexican Art
Art activities at the National Museum of Mexican Art | Source

Day of the Dead Masks - Cardboard

Day Of The Dead Masks   (4/Pkg)
Day Of The Dead Masks (4/Pkg)

With premade, precolored masks you can have a Day of the Dead mask to wear in the time it takes for them to be delivered.

These 12 inch cardboard masks come with attached elastic.

Set of four.

 

Day of the Dead Mask Teachers Discovery Kit

Day of the Dead Mask Kit
Day of the Dead Mask Kit

For teachers interested in creating Day of the Dead Masks in the classroom, this discovery kit is very helpful.

The kits includes enough materials to make 30 paper masks.

Craft project is designed for middle and high school students.

 

Black and Gray Day of the Dead Mask

Black and Gray Day of the Dead Mask
Black and Gray Day of the Dead Mask | Source

Make a Day of the Dead Paper Mache Mask

Finished Paper Mache Masks

Finished Paper Mache Masks
Finished Paper Mache Masks | Source

Make a Paper Mache Day of the Dead Mask

Paper Mache Masks can be made the simple way, an in between way or the more complicated way.

The simple way is to start with a premade paper mache mask and use this as the base to paint and decorate the finished mask.

The in between way is to use plaster-impregnated strips (like the ones used in orthopedic clinics or emergency rooms) to fashion a mask. These strips dry fairly quickly and can be painted the next day.

The most complicated way involves making traditional paper mache using torn paper and a flour-water paste. This is the least expensive method and a recyclable method since it uses materials most people have around the home. It takes longer to tear up paper strips, longer to mix up the paste and longer to dry.

Any of the methods will work well to give you a beautiful one-of-a-kind Day of the Dead mask.

Finished Paper Mache Masks by Grunenemann. Used under a Creative Commons License.

Making Day of the Dead Masks - Video

Watch the three-day adventure from freebri as friends in Atlanta gather to make paper mache masks for a Day of the Dead - Dia de los Muertos - party.

Making Day of the Dead Masks - Video

Craft a Day of the Dead Mask

Create a Face Mask

Colorful Face Mask
Colorful Face Mask | Source

Make a Day of the Dead Mask

Making a unique Day of the Dead Mask can be decorated relatively quickly by starting with a premade paper mache mask.

Paper mache craft masks can be found in craft stores or ordered through Amazon.

Crafting Time

Total Time: 2 - 3 hours, not including drying time

Cast your vote for How to Make a Sugar Skull Mask

Materials

  • Paper Mache Mask
  • Acrylic Craft Paint
  • Decoupage or Mod Podge
  • Hot Glue
  • Sticky dots glue spots
  • Embellishments - Glitter or rhinestones or gems

Instructions

  1. Look for ideas on how to decorate the paper mache mask by looking at Day of the Dead skull mask art.
  2. Start by painting the mask with one color (often white) as a base coat.
  3. Colorful contrasting colors are used for accents.
  4. When done painting let the mask dry.
  5. Once dry cover the painted mask with a coat of decoupage medium
  6. Add embellishments like glitter, rhinestones or gems.
  7. Attach with glue gun or sticky dots.
  8. Allow to dry completely.Think of ways to customize your mask with decoupage and other embellishments.

Pre-shaped Paper Mache Masks

Fun Express Decorate Your Own Paper Masks (6 Piece)
Fun Express Decorate Your Own Paper Masks (6 Piece)

Pre-shaped Paper-Mache Masks are a good starter for making Day of the Dead masks quickly.

This package contains 6 pcs.

Paints sold separately.

 

Paper Mache Masks

Starting with premade Paper Mache Masks make the process even easier.

Paper Mache Mask

17 Pack CHENILLE KRAFT COMPANY PAPER MACHE MASK
17 Pack CHENILLE KRAFT COMPANY PAPER MACHE MASK

Enough for a Paper Mache Mask making party with 17 paper mache masks.

 

Acrylic Paint Sets

Sargent Art 24-2499 16-Ounce Acrylic Paint, 12-Piece Set
Sargent Art 24-2499 16-Ounce Acrylic Paint, 12-Piece Set

The collection of acrylic paints comes with 12 different colors.

Each paint bottle holds 16 ounces.

 

Plaster-impregnated gauze strips

Pacon Craft Supplies (PAC52720)
Pacon Craft Supplies (PAC52720)

These plaster-impregnated gauze strips will allow you to create unique class projects like Day of the Dead masks.

After the strips have been molded and dried, they can be sanded smooth and painted.

 

Use Plaster Impregnated Gauze Strips to Make a Mask

A way to make a quick Day of the Dead mask is to start by using plaster impregnated gauze strips.

These are like the plaster strips we used in the emergency department to make casts, so they need to dry quickly enough to get the patient home.

With this technique, you need to make sure the person isn't claustrophobic, or fearful of things on their face.

  • 1. Coat the face with vaseline.
  • 2. Use plaster impregnated gauze strips dipped in warm water.
  • 3. Apply strips to the face, making sure to cross the strips
  • 4. Be sure not cover up the nose or mouth.
  • 4. Build up several layers.
  • 5. Let the strips harden overnight to dry.
  • 6. Sand any rough areas.
  • 7. Paint and embellish as desired.

Making Mexican Day of the Dead Masks - Video Series

Magicfitzpatrick takes us through his short four part video tutorial series on How to make Mexican day of the dead masks.

Mexican Day of the Dead Masks 1 - Video

Mexican Day of the Dead Masks 2 - Video

Mexican Day of the Dead Masks 3 - Video

Mexican Day of the Dead Masks 4 - Video

Paper Mache Supplies

AMACO Claycrete Paper Mache, 5-Pound Bag, White
AMACO Claycrete Paper Mache, 5-Pound Bag, White

Bulk paper mache supplies.

Just tear up some newspaper, paper or tissue paper to use.

 

Making Paper Mache Mask

A paper mache mask can be made entirely from the start, but takes more time. Be sure to allow time for the paper mache to dry initially as a mask and then once it has been embellished.

  1. Creating a Base for the Mask

    The base for the mask can be made directly on the face with paper mache strips or created from different items. Gallon milk cartons, chicken wire wrapped in newspaper, cardboard and paper plates can be use for the base.

  2. Paper Mache Paste

    Paper Mache paste can be made by mixing 1 part of flour to two parts of water e.g. 1 cup flour in 2 cups water. The aim is to make the paste more like a thick glue, but not runny. Be sure to mix well to remove any lumps.

    The paper mache paste can be stored for a several days in the refrigerator in a covered container.

  3. Layering the Paper

    In order to create the effect of a skull, the eyebrows and cheek bones need to be built up. This can be done by layering paper mache in these areas taking care to keep the layers smooth.

  4. Drying the Mask

    Paper mache masks need to be dried after the paper has been applied. Using a hair dryer or putting the mask in a low temperature oven can help speed up the process. Make sure the mask has dried completely before painting.

  5. Painting the Mask

    Look at different mask designs to come up with a design for your mask. You might want to combine several ideas from masks, flowers, hearts, crosses, swirls, dots and even webs are incorporated into the Sugar Skull designs.

  6. Embellishing the Mask

    To make the mask even more decorative consider adding glitter, rhinestones, feather, gems and other embellishments to the mask.

Making Dia de los Muertos Masks on Flickr

The masks were made as part of the Dia de los Muertos parade at Walkers Point Center for the Arts.

A Colorful Skeleton Mask

Brightly Colored Skeleton Mask
Brightly Colored Skeleton Mask | Source

Do you think you might want to make your own mask?

Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

© 2011 Kirsti A. Dyer

Comment on Day of the Dead Masks

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • SteenBiilmann LM profile image

      SteenBiilmann LM 4 years ago

      Beautiful AND scary at the same time! Great lens - keep em coming:-)

    • HealthfulMD profile image
      Author

      Kirsti A. Dyer 5 years ago from Northern California

      @tfsherman lm: I probably had too many years of anatomy, so skeletons aren't that creepy. Of course I've also been using skeletons to teach at Halloween.

    • tfsherman lm profile image

      tfsherman lm 5 years ago

      What a beautiful lens! Day of the Dead is such a gorgeous take on Halloween -- too bad it still creeps me out. I'm trying to get used to looking at all those skulls, like a nine year old boy looking at pictures of dinosaurs. A lens as artistic as yours is a big help. Thanks!

    • Scarlettohairy profile image

      Peggy Hazelwood 5 years ago from Desert Southwest, U.S.A.

      This looks like a fun project if you needed a Day of the Dead mask. Lots of possibilities for dressing it up!

    • Deadicated LM profile image

      Deadicated LM 5 years ago

      I love The Day of the Dead, this Lens any your masks; I recently added a module to my Day of the Dead Lens, it features related Lenses by my fellow lensmasters, I added this lens.

    • profile image

      aSwellGuy 5 years ago

      Pretty masks.

    • Steph Tietjen profile image

      Stephanie Tietjen 5 years ago from Albuquerque, New Mexico

      Day of the Dead is big here in NM. This is an outstanding lens. Wonderful!

    • TapIn2U profile image

      TapIn2U 6 years ago

      This is so interesting. Sundae ;-)

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 6 years ago from California

      Living in California, I've heard of some of the Day of the Dead festivities. I had no idea so much effort went into making the masks.