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How to Make a Paper African Mask

Updated April 17, 2017

African masks are a notable symbol of African culture. Crafted individually with geometrical symbols representative of traditional style, the masks are highly sought after. Made from various materials including woods, fabric or metal, the masks are available for viewing in museums and galleries around the world. Recreate an African mask from paper to bring your interpretation to a symbolic and cultural art.

Select a mask from photographs and images of African masks. Look online, through magazines, books and in museums or galleries. Tear out an image or make a copy of it for reference.

Fold poster board in half. Pencil a half moon away from the folded side of paper. Cut out the moon shape. When the poster board is unfolded, you should have an oval shape left. If the chosen mask has cutouts at the top or bottom of the form, cut out the pieces accordingly.

Note the facial features on the mask. Notice its expression and structure. Is the face horizontal or vertical? Is it in profile or frontward? Outline similar shapes onto construction paper: eyes, brows, nose and mouth as applicable. For the nose, fold coloured paper in half and cut it out. Glue only the corners to make it three-dimensional. Cut out remaining facial features and glue them onto the mask.

Look at the fundamental geometric structures on the African mask image. Are they smooth and sculpted, moulded to the face? Or do they stand out and appear more tribal in nature? Break down the image into basic shapes. Draw the shapes onto pieces of construction paper. Try to use paper as close as in colour to the mask. Cut them out. Position them onto the face of the mask and glue one piece at a time.

Tip

If the mask selected has hair, cut raffia or strips of paper 18 inches long. With a raffia/paper tie, wrap the strips and tie them in a knot at the centre or off to the side of the forehead. Glue on the hair to the top of the mask. Let the mask air dry completely. Hang the mask on a wall for display.

Things You'll Need

  • Poster board
  • Construction paper or speciality paper
  • Glue
  • Scissors
  • Drawing or image of an African mask
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About the Author

Dawn Renée Levesque has been a writer for over 30 years. Her travel and fashion photographs have been exhibited in Europe and the United States. As a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, Levesque is the author of "Women Who Walk With the Sky" and co-author of "Wisdom of Bear." She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography.