Tuesday, January 19, 2016

How to make a paper mache eagle mask

Our school has a mascot named Ace.  We needed a mask for the mascot to wear at our jog-a-thon.  So, I thought it would be fun to make one (since we're doing a paper mache unit anyway).  This process would work for making just about any kind of mask of just about anything if you teak it a little bit.


wire cutters
paper mache paste
acrylic paint
elmer's glue
tennis ball or something round
screen for the eye holes
masking tape

Here are the step-by-step instructions:

Step 1: Build the wire frame

Build the wire frame to fit your head.  start with a couple of rings that fit over your face.  Then add wire by bending it and wrapping it around the circles.  You'll want it a little larger than your head to leave room for the paper, tape and what not.

Keep adding wire to reinforce the design and make it stronger.  Add a beak shape to the front of the face.  Keep placing it on your head to make sure it's the right size.  Adjust as needed. 

Finished frame. 

Step 2: Paper Mache!

 Use newspaper strips and dip them in a bucket with art paste.  We use the Elmer's brand called "Art Paste."  It's also possible to make your own art paste using flour and water.

Cover the entire mask with paper mache strips.  Add a layer to the inside of the mask as well.  I would do at least 2-3 layers total to make it strong.  Wait a day or two for the mask to dry. 

Step 3:  Add Features

I used a tennis ball cut in half for the eyes.  You can use anything round or even roll up newspaper into a ball.

Use masking tape to hold the ball in place at the eye.  Add rolled up newspaper to make eyebrows/feathers.  attach everything using masking tape.

Do the same for the nostrils, or just cut a hole in the beak for the nostrils. 

Fold newspaper into triangle shapes for the feathers in the back of the bald eagle's head and attach using masking tape.

Next you want to cut out a hole for the eyes of the mask using an exacto knife.

Once the holes are cut and you've tried it on to make sure you can see. You will need to paint your screen the color the rest of the mask is going to be so the screen blends in.  Paint it with a watered down acrylic paint so that it changes colors, but doesn't clog up the tiny holes in the screen (blocking your view).  

Attach the screen over the eye holes and test again to make sure you can see out the mask.  Tape the edges of the screen to the mask.

Step 4: Cloth Mache

 The next step will be to cover the entire mask (minus the screen) with cloth mache.  It's the same process as paper mache other than you are using cloth rather than paper and using Elmer's glue rather than art paste.  This process makes the mask good and strong so that it won't break if you bonk into something while wearing the mask. 

Cut strips of cloth to add to the mask.  You can use bed sheets, pillow cases, or any other thin cloth material.  Dip the strips and cover them completely in Elmer's glue.  Add them to the mask at different angles and cover all the newspaper.  Rub it down to get rid of wrinkles.  Don't forget to add a layer of cloth mache on the inside of the mask as well so that wires don't poke your head.

Once the mask is covered, you will need to let it dry for a few days.  Once it's a big solid form, you are ready for the last steps!

Step 5: Painting

Last step is paint the mask.  For this one, we painted it white (even though it already was white) so you can't see the newspaper through the fabric.  Then, we painted the beak, eyes and other details to match our school mascot. 

The kids love "being" the mascot!

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