Workshop Wednesday: Making A Mask

17 November 2010

Shark and Alien masks

Welcome to a new regular feature for PlayPennies. Workshop Wednesday! We often talk about all the sorts of things you can make to save money, have fun or cut down on food bills. Each week we'll also be showing you one of these projects in full glorious detail so you can learn from what we do, and, er, our mistakes!

At half term we got a little notice in the homework book. Please do an African mini-project. Do they not know how big that continent is?! So I took my son to the Horniman museum's African hall for inspiration and we decided to make his own interpretation of an African mask. You can see the end result pictured above. All his own work too - I have no eye for design or colour at all! Back in April I wrote a post about things to do with Papier Mache, and I used one of the ideas that I found there.

Papier Mache Masks

I used a 2 litre plastic milk bottle. I cut it in half, so that the handle bit then forms a sort of nose. The 'recipe' we were following called for three layers of papier mache, and to cover the inside of the bottle too. But we just layered enough to cover the plastic and didn't worry about the inside. I used her recipe for the flour and water paste.

This was the messiest bit! While my son's friend carefully layered his bottle in one strip of newspaper at a time my son gunked the paste all over the table and layered newspaper all over it until I think it was about to turn into a mushy pulp! At this point, they looked more like Easter Island statues than masks though.

It took just one day to dry, and even though we'd only done one layer and one side, the papier mache adhered to the plastic like, well, glue. My son covered his in blue paint - we used acrylic paints - because he wanted to make a shark. Or something based on a shark! His friend used a number of different colours, as he decided to make his based on an alien theme (hence all the eyes).

Preparing to paint masks

It took hardly any time for the paint to dry on the newspaper. We helped it along the last bit of drying with five minutes of hot air from a hair dryer. Then we just let the boys stick whatever they wanted on the masks using PVA glue. And this is what they came up with! The sticks are cut up bamboo poles that had been meant to tie up plants in the garden. It took a bit of gaffer tape to secure it, so maybe papier mache-ing in the sticks would have been better.

Would love to hear your thoughts on this, and any other ideas you might have!


  • Emma K.
    Very good idea with the milk jugs!
  • Lynley O.
    I know! I'd never have thought of that in a million years. One thing I didn't do, as I totally forgot, was to cut the holes for the eyes BEFORE doing the papier mache. D'oh!
  • Cumulus
    Seriously impressive stuff, Lynley. You are crafty-inspiration-woman.
  • Lynley O.
    Why thank you ma'am!

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