How to Make Cardboard Inca Masks

Written by melissa j. bell
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The ancient Incan empire, which spanned from Ecuador to Chile in the Andes Mountains and consisted of more than a million people, produced a great deal of art, including masks used to honour gods. Their descendants continue this tradition, creating masks of their own designs. While the masks made by the Inca were often made of gold and other precious metals, your Inca masks can be crafted from much more common materials like cardboard and foil. To make your own cardboard Inca mask, complete the following instructions.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Reference image or sketch
  • Cardboard or mat board
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Wooden dowel
  • Newspaper
  • Sketchpad
  • Tooling foil
  • Modelling tools
  • India ink and brushes or markers
  • Dull pencil or pen
  • Hot glue gun

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  1. 1

    Sketch out the design of your mask in scale, using a reference image of an Incan artefact or your own ideas. Cut the sketch from the paper and trace the outline onto the cardboard. Cut the cardboard as this will be the basis for your Inca mask.

  2. 2

    Place your tooling foil face down over a large sketchpad, enough to protect the surface beneath it. Place your sketch over the tooling foil and, using a dull pencil or a ballpoint pen, trace over your sketch lines. This will transfer the lines to the foil. You can hold the sketch in place by taping the sketch to the foil with artist's tape. Remove the sketch from the foil.

  3. 3

    Tool the foil, using the modelling tools to push down or press aside the foil to create indentations. Keep your reference picture handy to see where to make impressions and raised ridges, and remember that you are working from the back side of the mask. Make sure that the sketchpad stays under the foil at all times or you may damage your table surface. If necessary, turn the foil over to work on the front side as well.

  4. 4

    Antique the front of the foil by painting on it with India ink or decorate it by colouring it with Sharpie markers.

  5. 5

    Remove the foil from the sketchpad and cut around the mask edges, leaving a little extra on all sides. Attach the foil to the cardboard mask base by placing dabs of hot glue in the indented spaces that would be closest to the cardboard. Fold the excess foil around the back of the cardboard and glue it in place. Do not worry about neatness as this is the side no one will see.

  6. 6

    Attach the dowel to the back of the cardboard with masking tape, making sure that it will not slip. If necessary, you can also glue the dowel to the cardboard.

Tips and warnings

  • Masks can also be decorated with feathers, pipe cleaners, wire, yarn and other craft materials.
  • Be careful with tooling foil as the edges are sharp.

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