Paper Mache Masks

Students will learn how to construct a mask as they begin exploring the imaginative power of this exciting art form.

By Andrea Mulder-Slater

Artistically, masks are among the most remarkable objects created by traditional civilizations. By following our Papier Mache Masks lesson plan, students will learn how to construct a mask as they begin exploring the imaginative power of this exciting art form.

What You Need:

  • powdered wallpaper paste (in a box from the hardware store)
  • white glue (just a little)
  • warm water
  • bucket for mixing
  • small containers (for paste at tables)
  • newspapers
  • 2″ wide masking tape (4-6 rolls)
  • thick bristol board or poster paper (about 1/2 sheet per student)
  • a masquerade mask to start with from the party supply store (about 25 cents each)
  • scissors
  • acrylic paint (and containers to put it in)
  • brushes
  • containers for water
  • hot glue gun and glue sticks
  • found objects to glue onto masks (beads, fabric, string, plastic bubble wrap, etc.)
  • possibly a completed mask as an example

What You Do:

  1. Talk about masks. What kinds of mask are there? Why do people make masks? How do masks make us feel? (happy, sad, scared, etc.)
  2. Show examples of different sorts of masks from different cultures. If possible show real masks. If you do not have any masks, try to find pictures of masks in books, on posters etc.
  3. Prepare by having your students rip up newspaper strips of various lengths that they will later add to their poster paper when the time comes. Store these pieces of paper in a small box — one per student or pair of students if possible.
  4. Students first draw, and then cut simple shapes out of the poster paper. These shapes will be added to the masquerade mask using masking tape.
  5. Make sure that the tape covers all joining areas front and back.
  6. Mix up papier mache mix as directed on wallpaper paste box. Add a touch of white glue to make the mixture nice and sticky.
  7. Cover the mask with newspaper strips of various lengths that have been dipped in the paste. The paste should have the consistency of thick yogurt. The mask should have between four and six layers by the time it is completed.

*You might wish to have the students do the front one week — let it dry — and the back the following week. It makes things a lot easier for them.

  • Continue to cover the mask with newspaper strips of various lengths that have been dipped in the paste. The mask should have between four and six layers by the time it is completed.
  • Once the mask is completely dry (you may need to wait a few days to a week for this to be so), your students can decorate their masks with acrylic paint and then leave to dry for another week.
  • On the final day, embellishments can be added with hot glue (supervision for the young ones) and a string can be attached so the mask can be worn.

Making paper mache masks.

Paper mache mask.

MORE:

Detailed step-by-step PDF instructions on this project can be found in the Masks Bundle inside our membership – The KinderArt Club.

Masks lesson plan

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