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How to Make Egyptian Death Masks

The ancient Egyptian belief system placed much emphasis on an eternal afterlife. As part of this belief system, Egyptians created elaborate death masks to be worn by mummies. These were believed to provide a recognisable face for the deceased. Kids can have a blast learning about ancient Egyptian culture as they make their own individualised Egyptian death masks with paper mache and paint. The masks can be as simple or as elaborate as you like.

Mix the flour and water together in a cooking pot, then boil the mixture, stirring frequently, until it thickens. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in the ice cubes. Allow the mixture to cool.

Place your plastic mask on poster board, and trace around the mask. Remove the mask, and cut out the traced shape, cutting from the inside of the shape outward.

Draw your desired headdress shape around the cutout on the poster board, and cut out your headdress with scissors.

Place the plastic mask over the cutout in the centre of the headdress. Apply masking tape to the edges of the mask to adhere it to the headdress.

Dip a newspaper strip into your paper mache mixture, then run the strip between two fingers to remove excess paper mache. Press the newspaper strip onto the front of the mask and headdress. Continue with more strips until the front of the mask and headdress is covered. Let dry.

Repeat step 5 on the back of the mask and headdress. Let dry.

Repeat Steps 5 and 6 to create a double layer of paper mache on both sides. Let dry completely.

Poke holes in the nose and cut out the eyes, using scissors.

Poke holes in the sides of the headdress, and attach string or elastic to tie around your head.

Apply gold spray or acrylic paint to the face of the mask. Let dry.

Decorate your mask with other colours of paint in any way you want. Glue on beads if you want to make it even more elaborate.

Tip

Children may need help with cutting out the shapes, particularly the nostrils, eyes and string holes. Children may also need help with smoothing paper mache strips over edges and creases so the shape is maintained.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup flour
  • 4 cups water
  • Cooking pot
  • White poster board
  • Plastic face mask
  • String or elastic
  • 4 ice cubes
  • Strips of newspaper
  • Scissors
  • Masking tape
  • Spray or acrylic paints in gold and other colours
  • Decorative beads (optional)
  • Glue (optional)
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About the Author

Based in Atlanta, Laurel Reese has been writing since 2005. Her articles have appeared in the Georgia Writers Association's "GAYA" publication as well as in several Furman University publications. Reese received the L.D. Johnson scholarship for creative writing in 2006. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and art history from Furman University.