The ancient Egyptians practised mummification, the preserving of bodies after death; they believed it pleased the gods and brought good fortune to those left behind. The mummified bodies of kings were provided with ornate death masks made from precious materials such as gold. The masks often included blue and black, colours which were thought to suggest a godlike quality and that the wearer of the mask be accepted as one of the gods. The instructions below show how to make a replica death mask, but it doesn't include real gold, nor will it provide any godlike powers. Sorry about that.
Draw the shape of an Egyptian headdress onto the cardboard. Draw an oval in the centre of this; make the oval the size of the face to be covered with the mask.
Cut out the oval and the headdress shape from the cardboard.
Lay the person who will wear the mask on the floor or a table. Make sure he is comfortable as he will be there for about 20 minutes.
Place pieces of cling film over the person's face, leaving gaps for their nose so they can breath.
Put warm water into a large mixing bowel.
Put the cardboard headdress shape over the face of the person, with his face protruding through the oval cutout.
Dip a plaster-impregnated gauze strip into the warm water, squeeze off excess water with your fingers and lay the gauze onto the cling film on the person's face. Do not cover their nostrils.
Continue laying strips of gauze onto the face and cardboard until the face is covered by two layers of gauze and the cardboard is attached to the strips.
Leave it in place to set for 15 minutes. It will become warm during this time.
Lift off carefully and leave it to dry for 24 hours.
Outline the design to be painted onto the mask in pencil and paint with metallic gold, black and blue paints.
The strips of gauze can be cut with scissors if they are too large to comfortably use.
Never leave the person being masked unattended during the process of applying the gauze or while allowing the mask to set on his face.
Tips and warnings
- The strips of gauze can be cut with scissors if they are too large to comfortably use.
- Never leave the person being masked unattended during the process of applying the gauze or while allowing the mask to set on his face.