Masks served two main purposes in ancient Egypt. Masks representing deities were used in religious ceremonies to evoke the power of particular gods and goddesses. And the dead wore burial masks, fashioned to represent the face of the deceased. Pharaohs such as Tutankhamen had elaborate gold masks, encrusted with jewels. Less wealthy ancient Egyptians would be buried in masks made of cheaper substances, such as plaster, usually cast from the face of the corpse. Learn to make a plaster mask of your own face.
Tie back long hair, and wrap a layer of cellophane around the hair and ears. Cover your face in petroleum jelly.
Dip strips of plaster craft gauze in water, and lay the strips over your face in several overlapping layers. Ask a friend to help out with this step. Lay the strips so the covering follows the contours of your face as accurately as possible, with no lumps or bumps. Leave the nostrils uncovered, and either avoid the area around the eyes or cover the eyes with cotton pads. The plaster strips can be used on your lips, but avoid getting any in your mouth.
Lie still until the plaster is dry, following the manufacturer's instructions regarding drying time. Gently ease the mask away from the face. Rest the mask on a sponge base if it requires any further time to set.
Place your mask in the centre of a sheet of poster board or cardboard, and draw around it. Cut away the shape outlined with scissors or a craft knife, and place your mask over the hole. Lay plaster strips between the mask and the board to join them together. Continue to layer strips onto the board around the mask to build up the desired shape of your headpiece and chest piece. Once dry, the plaster-covered poster board or cardboard can be trimmed to shape and size.
Paint your mask. You may also wish to decorate it with beads, plastic jewels or other craft items.
Things you need
- Petroleum jelly
- Cotton pads (optional)
- Poster board or cardboard
- Scissors or craft knife
- Other decorations (optional)