How to Make a Tiki Costume

Written by vivian gomez
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How to Make a Tiki Costume
Look at different tiki masks to pick one that you believe you can replicate. (inca tiki image by Jim Mills from

Tiki masks bear menacing expressions that traditionally were meant to ward off evil spirits, much like gargoyles. Over the years, they have become a staple of luaus and celebrations. You can make a tiki costume for a luau or Halloween with just a few materials. Look at different tiki masks and stone structures to pick one with an expression that appeals to you and that you can recreate. Keep in mind that it is easier to recreate masks with sharp lines and angles.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Cardboard box
  • Garbage can
  • Glue
  • Masking tape
  • 1 paper towel roll
  • 2 toilet paper rolls
  • Styrofoam
  • Newspapers
  • Paper bags
  • Carpenters glue
  • Wet rag
  • Joint compound
  • Spatula
  • Ceiling texture paint
  • Brown paint
  • Dark brown paint
  • Black paint
  • Clear acrylic sealer
  • Tan paint
  • Sea sponge
  • Box cutter
  • Window screen
  • 4 hula skirts
  • Scissors

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  1. 1

    Make the mask's framework by gluing pieces of cardboard around a garbage can to each other but not directly to the garbage can. The garbage can serves as a guide or a mould and you will get rid of it later. Place masking tape on all the seams to connect them.

  2. 2

    Start working on the mask's facial features. Glue cardboard to the top of the framework to make a protruding brow. Use the paper towel roll to make the bridge of the nose. Glue a couple of toilet paper rolls to the bottom of the paper towel roll to finish the nose. Reinforce the nose with masking tape. Cut ears from the styrofoam that are large enough to cover the entire length of each side of the mask. Glue on the ears. Cut out a wide-set mouth from the styrofoam and glue it onto the mask. Reinforce the ears and mouth with masking tape.

  3. 3

    Paper mache the entire mask. Cut strips of newspaper or paper bags or both and dip them all into carpenters glue. Add each strip to the ears, nose and mouth you added to the mask first to secure them all in place. Continue adding strips to the entire mask to make it sturdy. Wipe off excess glue with a damp rag and set the mask aside for 24 hours so it can dry thoroughly.

  4. 4

    Apply joint compound over the entire mask using your spatula to create a stone-like texture. Let it dry for 24 hours.

  5. 5

    Continue to work on that stone-textured effect when painting your mask. Mix ceiling texture paint together with brown paint. Brush this mixture to the entire mask and let it dry thoroughly. Mix the dark brown paint with the clear acrylic sealer to create a wash. Brush the wash to the entire mask. Dip your brush into the black paint and splatter it onto the surface. Let everything dry thoroughly, and then dip a sea sponge into the tan paint and dab it on the entire mask.

  6. 6

    Cut out the mouth hole with a box cutter. Use masking tape to secure a bit of window screen to cover the hole. The screen helps conceal the costume's wearer while allowing him or her to see.

  7. 7

    Attach four hula skirts to the base of the mask with glue and reinforce it with masking tape. Put the costume on and see if you need to cut the skirt down to size so you do not trip over it.

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