How to make a venetian papier-mache mask

Written by alyssa ideboen
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How to make a venetian papier-mache mask
Make a Venetian mask out of papier-mache and paint. (carnaval image by Philippe SURMELY from Fotolia.com)

Commonly worn in ancient Venice to create illusions during pageants and skits, today's Venetian masks are typically worn during the week of Mardi Gras. Partygoers don colourful costumes combined with festive masks. Create your own version of a Venetian mask with papier-mache, a craft technique combining paste and torn-up paper to mould into sculptures and other designs. Get creative with your design skills to create an out-of-this-world Venetian mask.

Skill level:
Easy

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Things you need

  • Plastic dropcloth
  • Towel
  • Mixing bowl
  • Mixing spoon
  • Water
  • Flour
  • Saucepan
  • Scissors
  • Old newspapers or copy paper
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Hand mirror
  • Wooden chopstick
  • Medium-grit sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Feathers, jewels, beads or other decorations
  • Hot glue gun

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Prepare your work area. Spread a plastic sheet on a flat work area. Wear old clothing and wet a cloth to wipe up spills.

  2. 2

    Make papier-mache paste. Mix together equal parts white flour and water into a mixing bowl to form a paste. Pour the mixture into a saucepan and bring it to a boil over medium heat while stirring constantly. Allow it to cool and thicken before using.

  3. 3

    Cut strips of paper 1 inch wide by 6 to 8 inches long. Old newspaper or copy paper works well. Have 40 or 50 pieces of paper available to use for your mask.

  4. 4

    Coat your face in petroleum jelly. Make sure your hairline and your eyebrows are completely covered. Avoid putting jelly directly in your eye or eyelid area, but cover everywhere else.

  5. 5

    Dip a strip of paper into the papier-mache paste and lay the strip crosswise over your face. Dip a second strip into the paste and lay it in the other direction up your face. You want to have an "x" shape where the centre of the "x" crosses over the bridge of your nose. Use a hand mirror to help guide you.

  6. 6

    Continue dipping strips of paper into the paste and placing them over your forehead, cheeks and nose to create a mask shape. Smooth the strips flat, leaving room around the eyes and space to breathe around the nose and mouth.

  7. 7

    Place three layers of the papier-mache strips over your entire face to create a strong mask. Allow the mask to dry on your face for two or more hours, until the mask begins to feel stiff. Cover the paste to keep it from drying out while you are waiting for the mask to dry.

  8. 8

    Peel the mask carefully off your face once it is stiff. Place one wooden chopstick at the side of the mask to use as a holder. Dip strips of paper into the paste and wrap the paper around the stick, securing it into place. Use enough layers to make a strong hold. Let the mask continue to dry for another 24 hours.

  9. 9

    Sand your mask down to remove rough spots. Make the surface of your mask smooth for decorating or painting by sanding rough areas with a medium-grit sandpaper. Trim the edges of your mask with scissors to remove jagged edges.

  10. 10

    Paint your mask. Use colourful acrylic paint to decorate your mask according to your taste. Paint the mask all over and allow the paint to dry before adding a second coat or other embellishments.

  11. 11

    Add feathers, jewels, beads or ribbons to your Venetian mask to decorate your mask further. Attach items with a small dab of glue from a hot glue gun. Allow the glue to dry before using the mask.

Tips and warnings

  • Paint your mask in a solid colour such as black or white to follow a classic Venetian look. Embellish with gold or silver paint.
  • Colour around your eyelids with black eye make-up before wearing the mask for a haunting look.
  • Use caution when working around your eyes to avoid injury. If paste mixture gets into your eyes, flush thoroughly with water.
  • Keep paste mixture away from small children and pets.

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