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Mask Making

To make your mask it may be best to work in pairs.

Your mask could be as simple as a face drawn on a paper plate and held in front of the face. Or if you are feeling adventurous you could take on a more sustained design and technology project using one of the methods below. Amalgamate elements of several methods to suit your needs.

Some general tips: white emulsion paint can give a good first coat to a mask. Several thin coats of paint are often better than one thick coat. Wait for things to dry thoroughly before the next step a hair dryer might help. Try not to get materials too wet. Add accessories like hats or jewellery, wool or hair. Kitchen roll is strong even when wet and can add strength and texture.

If you do not want the mess of paper mache you can use gummed brown paper parcel tape. Ripped into pieces, dampened and built up in layers as with paper mache it dries quickly (if not too wet) and is light, strong, and can be painted well.

To make expression on the mask, one person could imagine they are angry (it might help to think of a reason) freeze the expression, draws outlines of the expression on a piece of paper/photograph it. Swap roles and imagine different emotions.

Some of the methods require specific equipment (listed with the method) for most you will need a general craft kit containing:

  • Scissors
  • Newspaper
  • Tissue paper
  • Paste or PVA
  • Paint – to decorate
  • Brushes
  • Elastic
  • Hole punch
  • Sticky tape / masking tape
  • Stapler
  • Craft knife
  • Scissors
  • Mirror (to see how it looks)

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Modroc method

This involves taking a cast of each child’s face its messy and time consuming but the resulting masks are a good fit and the block can be reused as the basis for many masks. This video may help:

Additional Materials:

  • Vaseline
  • Mod roc or plaster bandage
  • Aprons
  • Floor covering cloth
  • Small bowls of warm water
  • Hair tie ups
  • Washing up liquid
  • Drinking straws cut in half
  • Loose plaster of Paris (powder)

Working in pairs one person sits still in a chair. Cover their clothes and tie back any hair away from their face.

Apply Vaseline liberally to their face paying particular attention to hair line, eyebrow and lashes.

Cut plaster bandage into strips about 6cms X 3cms cut enough to build up two layers on each child’s face.

Working quite swiftly dip a strip into the water and stick it to a child’s face work around the edge first overlapping each piece as in paper mache. Then fill in the gaps across the cheeks, down the nose, around the chin, above the top lip.

Leave the eyes mouth and nostrils until last, straws can be placed in the nostrils and removed when the mask is dry. The resulting holes can be filled later if desired.

Ensure a good coverage over the whole face.

The plaster dries quite quickly and warms up as it does so. When it is dry the child can wriggle their face while their partner eases it gently off around the edges.

Hold up to the light to check for any thin spots and reinforce on the outside as necessary.

This is the mould for the next stage place it level on a stable surface. Grease the inside with Vaseline.

Mix plaster of Paris and pour in to fill mould. This may take some days to dry but when it has, turn it out of the mould.

To exaggerate features; eye brows, cheeks, nose etc. they can be built up on the block with modelling clay. Bold features often work the best. Avoid any over hangs as the mask will be difficult to release from the block. Cover the sculpted block with Vaseline it is now possible to use this block to make a mask using standard paper mache techniques.

When dry, paint with background colour. What colours represent which emotion? Add other colours as you wish to emphasise features add hair using fake fur if desired. Old jewellery can be effective too.

If the masks are to speak you need to follow the above steps but cut off above the top lip.

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Tin foil method

This uses the same principle as above to cast a real face but uses layers of tin foil pressed on a partner and so is quicker and less messy. In this method the tin foil becomes part of the mask as layers of paper mache are added so making it stronger.

This video might help (caution loud music – you might want to mute speakers).

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Balloon method

In addition to a general craft kit you will need large balloons – 1 balloon makes two masks.

Blow up balloon ensuring they are big enough to cover a child’s face

Build up alternate layers of newspaper and kitchen paper glued to the balloon as in traditional paper mache.

Leave it to dry after about three of four layers and add more later. It will need to be strong to take additional features.

When dry cut the balloon in half lengthways mark the eyes and mouth. The top of the eye is level with the top of the ear and the mouth is level with the bottom of the ear.

Mix paper pulp with PVA glue a little water and chosen paint colour, drain excess water and build up nose, eyebrows hair/beard using the pulp.

This video might help –

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Box Method

In addition to a general craft kit you will need grocery boxes (each box can provide background for eight masks with careful cutting).

Box method

Tape the box closed and cut the corners off as shown by the dotted lines (experiment with different face shapes long thin, broad and round what character do they suggest?) the flat top/bottom of the box will go on top of the head.

Mark the position of the eyes and mouth (eyebrows level with top of ears, bottom of nose level with bottom of ears) and cut them out (experiment with different shapes triangular, crescent, square or round).

Paint the mask with a background colour.

Screw up paper into balls or sausage shapes and stick on as eyebrows; nose and cheek bones paint these contrasting colours.

Punch holes or use tape/stapler to attach elastic.

Now look in the mirror and practice standing and gesturing as your character (remember big, slow and strong movement and voice).

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