How to make Egyptian god masks

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Ancient Egyptians left many depictions of gods and goddesses in their artwork. Deities were depicted sometimes in fully human form and sometimes with the face of the animal associated with that god or goddess. Egyptian god masks are fun to make because they are so colourful and vivid. You can convert a basic mask form into a number of different gods and goddesses, depending on how you decorate it.

Make the mask form

Blend 1/2 cup flour, 1 cup water and 1/4 cup white craft glue. Cut the newspaper into 15 cm by 5 cm strips.

Inflate a sturdy, oval balloon to be slightly larger than your head. Cover your workspace with newspaper and fold up a towel. Lay the balloon on the towel. The narrower end will be for the chin, the wider part will be for the forehead.

Dip the strips of newspaper into the papier mache to coat them liberally, then place the strips on the balloon. Slightly overlap them. Create a roughly face-shaped oval. Build it up with two more layers of papier mache.

Allow the mask to dry for three to five days. Peel it carefully off the balloon. Trim around the edges of the mask, if necessary, to make it rounder. If you intend to wear your mask, cut out eye holes and an air hole near the nose.

Add details at this point, such as cardboard ears, a paper nose or a rolled-up newspaper cone for a beak. Do not saturate the mask or it will begin to lose its shape.

Allow the mask to dry thoroughly. How long it takes will depend on how many layers of newspaper you used, but expect at least one day and perhaps several.

Mask decorating ideas

Make a plain human god's mask by spray-painting the mask gold, or a colour associated with that god. After the base paint is dry, add details such as eyebrows and elaborate Egyptian-style eye make-up.

Turn your mask into the jackal-headed god, Anubis. Cut long, pointed ears out of cardboard to look like short rabbit ears. Glue them to the mask at the temples. Glue a paper cup to the front of the mask to create a long, doglike snout and papier mache it and the ears to blend into the mask. After the papier mache dries, spray-paint your Anubis mask black, paint the inside of the ears grey and paint on eyebrow for details.

Create a mask of the Bast, the cat goddess. Cut out two cardboard triangles and glue them to the top of the mask as cat ears. Paint the mask a grey or light brown base colour, then paint on whiskers and a cat's nose. Draw out the eye make-up like an almond-shaped cat eye.

Make a ibis-headed Thoth mask by rolling up a piece of newspaper to be a long, conical-shaped beak. Attach it just slightly below and directly between the eyes. Paint the face blue, the beak black, and the eyes black.

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