Death masks are some of the most well-recognised artefacts from ancient Egypt. The masks were made for the burial of ancient Egyptian royalty, created in the image of the deceased's face. Nefertiti was an Egyptian queen who ruled alongside her husband Pharaoh Akhenaten. Nefertiti is a figure in Egyptian folklore renowned for her beauty. Though the most iconic image of Nefertiti is a bust sculpture, her image could be transferred to a homemade death mask, which can be made with plaster and paper mache.
- Skill level:
Things you need
- Petroleum jelly
- Plaster gauze
- Poster board
- Masking tape
- Newspaper strips
- Paper mache compound
- Gold spray paint
- Acrylic paint
Smear petroleum jelly all over your face. Dip the plaster gauze in water and have someone place the strips on your face until your entire face is covered. Once the plaster is completely dry, carefully remove the mask from your face.
Cut a piece of poster board that's a few inches wider and about twice as tall as the face mask to make Nefertiti's hat. Her hat is tall and narrow. Since death masks only cover the front part of the face, you will just need to make a curve for the front of the hat. Curve the rectangle of poster board and tape the hat to the plaster mask. It's OK if there is a gap, as you will later put paper mache over it.
Cut ears out of the poster board, using the picture of Nefertiti as a guide. Fold the inner edge of the ears so that they stand out a little bit and tape them to the mask. You can also cut a rectangle of poster board, curving it slightly and attaching it to the bottom of the mask, to make a neck.
Dip the strips of newspaper in the paper mache compound and cover the face, hat, ears and neck. Repeat with two or three layers to give the mask some heft. Poke through the paper mache where it is covering the eye holes and gently fold the excess to the back side of the mask. Allow the paper mache to dry completely before moving on to the next step.
Spray the entire mask with gold paint. Once the gold dries, use acrylic paint to paint the hat and the details on the face.
Tips and warnings
- Find a good picture of the bust of Nefertiti to use as reference. Keep it handy so that you can consult it to make your mask accurate. If you do not want to make a mask in the image of your own face, buy a plastic face mask and paper mache over it.
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