Introduction: Deathmask

A deathmask is used to create masks and prosthetics for stage make up, that fit perfectly on your face. 

Step 1: Ingredients

You will need:
  • plaster (gypsum) (1kg / 35oz)
  • alginate (½kg / 17oz) - can be bought on dental supply stores
  • plaster bandage
  • plastic film
  • a long piece of fabric
  • facial moisture or solid vaseline
  • a scissor
  • a spoon
  • two small bowls
  • a box ou plastic bowl with sand
  • water
  • a friend to help you 

Step 2: Preparation

Lay your friend on a comfortable place that can be soiled - the floor or a large table. Wrap his or her head with plastic film, protecting the hair; it will get the aspect of a bald person. Moisture his or her eyebrowns and eyeleashes. Tie the fabric around his or her head. It will define the depth of the mask, because it's the fabric that will stop the alginate from draining. Try to keep the fabric as low as possible, just like the picture.

Step 3: Pouring Alginate

Now you will prepare the alginate, that will be poured over the face of your friend. Remember to protect the nostrils, because he or she will have to stay with it on his or her face for some minutes, breathing only through the nose. You may cut a straw in half and insert them on the nostrils - so the alginate won't fall into the nose - or just be careful when pouring the alginate, leaving the nose last and protecting the nostrils with your fingers - just remeber to ask your friend to take a deep breath before you do it! Sometimes a little alginate can fall into the nostrils, but you can take it off carefully, and your friend should never inhale it.

Ready? Use 1 liter water for half a kilo alginate, or 33 fl oz water for 17 oz alginate. Pour the alginate into the water and start mixing with a spoon. It will start to harden when start changing its color from pink to white. When it happens, pour it over the face of your friend, being careful with the nostrils. You must be very quick, or the alginate will harden. If it hardens before you pour it, it can't be used anymore, and you must start the mixing again. If you pour it correctly but cannot fill all the parts of the face, you can make more of the mixture and pour again in the parts that are lacking.

Step 4: Placing Plaster Bandage

Now your friend must remain with his face covered for a while. Some people may find this experience a little bit scary and uncomfortable, so he or she may try to keep calm and breath deeply, and try not fall into despair. Some people relax easier with a song playing, or if someone keeps talking to them, just so they know there's someone there.

You will now start to put the plaster bandage over the alginate, so it won't break when took off. Cut some strips with the scissor, then dip it into the water, place over the face of your friend, and slide your fingers to release the plaster. You may cut smaller strips for the nose area, remebering always to keep holes for your friend to breathe. Make two layers and wait for it to drain - the draining time depends on the climate.

Step 5: Preparing for Filling

While the plaster bandage dries, pour the sand into a large plastic bowl or any recipient in which the mask will fit, and make a hole on the sand: this is where you will put the mask.
When the plaster bandage gets completely dried, ask your friend to put his hand over the mask and sit. Looking down, he or she may now take off the mask carefully, and place it on the sand, like in the picture (alginate upward). Place the sand all over the mask, taking care not to distort it. Cover the nostrils holes with some more plaster bandage. 

Step 6: Filling

Now prepare the plaster (1 kilo plaster for 1 liter water, or 35 oz plaster for 33 fl oz water), mixing it with a spoon. Start pouring it into the mask with the spoon, letting it drain through the sides. This is for preventing bubbles in the plaster. Make one layer this way, then pour the rest of the plaster into the mask, and let it dry before taking the mask out of the sand. Depending on the type of the plaster it may dry in 15 minutes or 12 hours - check the package for this information.

Step 7: Revealing and Correcting the Mask

After the plaster is dried, take the mask out of the sand and place it on a flat surface. Take off the sand, plaster bandage and alginate carefully. Your mask is almost ready! You can use any sharp tool to make the nostrils again and correct any imperfections in plaster. Just be careful not to cut too much! Here we use a dental pick. After this, let it dry a little bit more, in the sun if possible.

Step 8: Ready!

The deathmask of your friend is finally ready! Now you can teach him or her this process, so he or she can make yours too!



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    This is also an excellent way to immortalize your erect penis. I've made several of them to capture the many moods of my dude piston. Once dried, I paint them in wild colors or go for a realistic flesh tone or even in shades of negro. I give them as gifts. Also they make for a unique "thank you" note for a nice date or to a perspective employer after a great interview. Just a friendly tip.

    Not that it matters, but you never look the same lying down as standing up, due to gravity on the face, if you want to make a copy of your face, it wont be that accurate.

    Is this the photo of a real person who has applied this mask or just a fake photo? I am not sure what the use of this mask is but I find it interesting. For a moment it reminded me my own death. Looking forward for some more items like this!

    1 reply

    The cover photo is the final replica of the face of a real (living) person, made of plaster. The replica itself is not used as a mask, but we model masks or prosthetics over it; that way, the masks/prosthetics will perfectly fit the face of the person. We are looking forward to teach this next step soon!

    Happy is the uptime for we are ready to go, now making your own face is only these few steps away. How easy it must be! How easy for you, how easy for me! For once I shall be able to sustain a visage of my countenance for all to see,,,,for eternity! Yay Me!

    Excellent instructable. Should have posted this a week before Halloween! One of these suitably made-up would look very scary looking out of the window. Easy-to-make scary stuff to put the willies up your rellies.

    Nice, but it should be called a life mask ( real term) instead of a death mask.

    3 replies

    Actually, death mask is a real term. They used to do this in the 1800's to 1900's to memorialize the deceased. The practice died out.

    I think that is a perfectly good reason to call this a Life Mask.

    You can use a little vasoline to coat the beard and or mustache. This will keep it from sticking too much

    I forgot to add, you can use drinking straws to make sure that air passages in the nose are clear. They won't mar the mask.

    2 replies

    Do not use drinking straws. They bloat the nose and they can cause nosebleed which is not that much fun if you are covered in plaster.

    You could cut them short (1" or so) and insert them only into the lateral nasal process ( or about as far as most people could insert their index finger without physical discomfort, emotional discomfort notwithstanding).

    But if the person is alive then it's called a life mask. Semantics only.