How to Make a Paper Mache Mask With a Balloon

Updated November 21, 2016

Masquerading as someone else can be exciting and even more fun when the mask is one you make yourself. Paper maché -- French for "chewed paper" (See Reference 1) -- is a technique long used to create inexpensive and lightweight masks and other objects. With the essential parts nothing more than paper and paste -- and a bit of patient waiting for things to dry -- almost anyone can create a pretty party disguise to outrival commercial masks.

Choose a large balloon that will inflate to the approximate finished size you want for your mask.

Tear newspapers into long narrow strips, about 1-inch wide and set them aside.

Mix 1 cup flour with 2 cups of water to make the paper maché glue, stirring with a spoon until all the lumps dissolve. Add more flour or water as needed to make glue about the consistency of thick cream.

Blow up the balloon and set it in a bowl to hold it still while you work on it.

Dip the paper strips in the paper maché glue to coat them completely, then squeeze off the excess glue by pulling each strip between your finger and thumb before applying the strip to the surface of the balloon.

Place the strips one at a time across the surface of the balloon -- crisscrossing them to cover every part and leave no portion of the balloon showing, but without building up the layer more than two or three thickness of paper. You do not need to coat the whole balloon, but only one side, since this is a mask rather than an entire head.

Put cling film over any leftover glue and refrigerate it until needed again.

Let the first layer of paper maché dry completely before going on to the next layer. This may take a day or two if you used a lot of glue, so be patient.

Cut thin cardboard from cereal boxes or toilet paper rolls to shape a nose and ears if desired, then use masking tape to hold them in place on the first layer of dried paper maché.

Cover the balloon and all the cardboard pieces with a second layer of paper maché strips as you did with the first layer. If necessary, prepare more glue using the same recipe above.

Allow the second layer to dry as before.

Make a finishing paste for your mask by mixing half the amount of flour and water as before and adding small bits of toilet paper or paper towel to the mix until it is the consistency of very thick oatmeal. Let it soak for about an hour.

Knead the mix with fingers until it resembles bread dough, then use it like modelling clay to smooth out rough areas and make fine details on your mask.

Let the mask dry for another day or two before popping the balloon and removing it.

Trim excess paper with scissors and punch a small hole on either side to tie a string through for fastening it to your face.

Decorate it with paints, glitter, feathers, beads or other embellishments as desired.

Things You'll Need

  • Large balloon
  • Newspapers
  • Bowls
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Spoon
  • Cling film
  • Cardboard scraps
  • Masking tape
  • Toilet paper or paper towels
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Paint and other decorations
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