Instructables
Picture of Giant Mask: Horror Head!
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This Instructable (which will begin by bordering dangerously on "slideshow" and for that, I apologize) is the focal point for my 2008 Halloween costume. A huge, papier-mache mask of gruesome proportions!

And don't forget to vote for Horror Head in the DIY Halloween contest!
 
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Step 1: Can You Draw Me?

Picture of Can You Draw Me?
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Unfortunately, I started this year's Halloween mask shortly before I started using the Instructables website, so I did not bother to take any pictures of the very early stages of construction. I had already done a fairly close coverage of this process on a previous mask project and since the principle is exactly the same, it didn't seem necessary.
In this case, rather than making a papier-mache shell over an inflated punch-ball balloon, I built the mask on a Diamond Comics corrugated cardboard shipping box - this takes far less time and works just as well, but it must be said that this method is slightly less cool.
Besides, even if I had taken detailed photographs, they can only help so much in terms of instruction. Essentially, this part of the process is sculpture, and you just have to make it up as you go along! I create shapes by wadding up newspapers and wrapping them with masking tape, then taping them to the box. It evolves organically over time, and I change it while I go, turning the head around to view it from various angles and just trying to make it look as cool as I can. The most important piece of advice, particularly if you're building on a box or balloon, is to do whatever you can to disguise the shape of your starting point. You don't want your mask to look like a box with a face, or a sphere with some pieces stuck on it... you want to incorporate that starting shape into the overall design and bury it beneath the face you're sculpting! On this mask, for example, I added the dome-shaped top and used another strip of cardboard to make a very angular, jutting chin, which helps to diminish the boxiness.

So, if you want to make an exact copy of my mask, then my first instruction is "MAKE A MASK OUT OF CARDBOARD, PAPER AND TAPE THAT LOOKS EXACTLY LIKE THIS."
Otherwise, start by experimenting with a way of sculpting the mask that is comfortable to you. It took me a while to find a method that worked for me, and everybody's different. Just bear in mind that the more materials you use, the heavier your final mask will be... and even though it's just flour and newspaper, the papier-mache will add quite a bit of weight.

You can see from the pictures here that I did not really start taking photographs until just after I started to coat the mask with papier-mache. The nails sticking out of his head posed certain problems, to ensure that they would stiffen and set at the correct angle. I tied the nail from his right eyelid to the nail protruding at the back of his head to keep it propped up while the flour-paste dried.
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jleighkrupp8 months ago
This is so great!
Masko3 years ago
Your design for this mask real well done. Myself mask maker and think your real good with show character mask.
OSWALD
Did you do the hands the same way?
pokiespout (author)  melartweaver4 years ago
 Oh no, the hands are made of canvas sheets.  I needed them to be able to move
One other thing-- I had to do mache that would allow light to come through, so I found that good, thick paper towels worked well for that and didn't require as many coats.  The light came through great--just like a lamp!
pokiespout (author)  melartweaver4 years ago
 That sounds very interesting... never done anything like that before, but I'd love to give it a shot.
Great instructable!  I just did a bunch of paper mache and really like your idea to puree the paper.  (I used The Onion as well.  Ha ha!)  I just want to add that Kilz has bleach in it which is great for preventing mold.  I read you can add it or paint to the mache mix which makes it more weather proof and sturdy, and also makes the mache less porous when it comes time to add your final color.  Also, adding salt to the mix keeps the mold out.  (I can't remember if you said you used salt...)  Anyhow, great mask.  I'm inspired!
pokiespout (author)  melartweaver4 years ago
 I've never added paint or Kilz directly to the mixture, but it's a terrific idea.  One of the reasons I love this medium so much is that it's so versatile!
markham1014 years ago

Stunned by your talent.  I have always been a fan of the oversize mask, haven't even considered to try until now.  I think some small scale paper mache projects would be great for my kids and get me back into the creative mode i have stored away for too long.  I'm going to go over you other postings before I ask any of the questions that are in my head.

pokiespout (author)  markham1014 years ago
 Thank you!  Check out the Montessaurus instructable... that has the best and most intricate description of my papier-mache process, and I designed it for kids.
logan74k5 years ago
Jaques. Jaques seems to fit. I like the butcher/mortician idea, I assume this has already gone out for Halloween, how did that go?
pokiespout (author)  logan74k5 years ago
Amazingly successful! Unfortunately the weather was uncooperative (an unseasonable 70 degrees!) so I was quite overheated, but it looked amazing and I made a little girl weep from terror!
hankbeast5 years ago
Awesome job dude. I've always loved your work anyway so voting for you was a no brainer. SW
pokiespout (author)  hankbeast5 years ago
Much obliged! This was a really fun costume, I'll definitely need to find an excuse to wear it again!
F-zero5 years ago
I dont know if I did something wrong, but my paper mache mask was very stiff. It might have been my mixture. How exactly do you cut a hole in the paper mache? It was very hard to do and came out jagged. What tool do you use?
pokiespout (author)  F-zero5 years ago
Generally, a papier-mache mask will be very stiff, the variation in hardness will depend on how many coats of paper and paste you use. For me, the hardness is something I want, because I hope for my masks to be very durable.
When I have to cut into them, I typically will use a very sharp X-acto blade. Those seem to work best. Any razor blade will work though, and they give you a lot more control than scissors do.
These days I do a lot more planning ahead so there is less need for me to make cuts in the finished product, but I learned in the past that if you need to cut eye-holes, for example, you should do it at an earlier stage when the papier-mache coating is thinner and more flexible. Then you can use strips of paper that will be folded down through the openings and continued on the interior surface, which help to reinforce the overall structure.
Can you give me a more detailed description of your project and the problems you faced with it? I'd be more than happy to help you out if I can.
Ah, alright, thanks. I actually ditched the old one because it got lopsided wihle i was making it :p I think this one will work pretty well though. Great insturctable by the way. It really shows the possibilities of paper mache! Infact, I couldn't even tell your mask was made of paper mache.
pokiespout (author)  F-zero5 years ago
Yeah, the more I use it the more impressed I am with the versatility of the medium. My first mask looks like a chainsaw sculpture compared to this one!
i used a drill to cut my eyes
the blue one is still being worked on oh btw i like covering them with tape before i paper mache them because i have had horrible problems with paper mache being too wet and ruining the cardboard structure that holds my mask together
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and i use tinfoil for the shapeds except for the eyes i need to be able to scoop those out from the inside and paper crumbled up for that works best
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pokiespout (author)  The Red Button5 years ago
I often enjoy a liberal use of tape, as well. Besides providing a more waterproof surface when necessary, It's also great for smoothing out rough spots. I tend to use wadded newspaper bound with tape for the sculpted portions.
Hazanko5 years ago
I think the name "Elijah" would be cool. Also, while your costume is great in it's own right, I'm not too crazy about the arms/jacket going with this particular face. I really think a face like this needs a straight jacket, dirty and stained, and with the hump tearing through the back (I see now you did that to the coat: great minds...). throw on some ruddy jeans and a pair of over-sized work boots with stakes through the toes, and finish it with some silver-clasped belts wrapped around your upper thighs. Maybe even some kind of shock collar, to hide the small neck area. You'd look creepy hopping around, as well as sprawled out on a sofa. Oh, and laughter is good, but not as good as quick...manic...heavy...breathing. Overall, though, an excellent intructable. A++. Would buy from again. All that jazz.
pokiespout (author)  Hazanko5 years ago
Thanks for the ideas! The whole thing has been sort of invented from the ground up, mostly based on what was available at the time, so I may not have made the same choices I did for the costume if my resources had been less limited. I really like the strait jacket idea, but I have to be at work on Halloween and it's easier to remove my giant arms than to wriggle out of a strait jacket. Now that I've lined the collar with black velvet and stuffed it, it stands up on its own and perfectly hides the neckline, with a small clasp in the front of the coat keeping everything neatly in place. More pictures to come soon! I've decided on a black coverall for simplicity's sake, probably with some modifications and possibly a green monster belly poking out. I love the idea of spikes through the boots, though, and I may steal that from you!
pokiespout (author) 5 years ago
Check it out! I've just about completed the coat for my costume.
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Bravo! This is one of the coolest indestructible on here. (In my personal opinion) I love all things sculptural, and enjoy the odd paper mache project every now and then, but my stuff has never reached such unbelievably fantastic proportions. I'm hoping to experiment with the paper-mush that you spoke of. Does it do damange to the pot you use for boiling, Should I get one specifically for paper boiling? I'm told that the blender should be task specific, and not to mix paper blending with food blending.
pokiespout (author)  unseenoyster5 years ago
Thank you! I used a pot that was old and scruffy to begin with - it did not appear to damage it any further, and I don't really see how it would... but if you have doubts, I would suggest just picking up a cheapie at a local thrift shop to be on the safe side. I've heard the same thing about the blending, but since my blender is shorted out I don't have any personal experience there! I know it's true of coffee grinders, though - you're supposed to have separate grinders for coffee and for spices. I imagine the same holds true for blenders and food-vs.-paper mush. Let me see what you come up with!
Vladimyr5 years ago
I have a question about wearing that monster! Did you build in some sort of support system for it rest on your head/shoulders/both? I'm very curious about how exactly you wear it. It's obviously very large and certainly it can't just sit on your shoulders.
pokiespout (author)  Vladimyr5 years ago
Ah, but it does just sit on my shoulders! This particular mask, while unwieldy, is not nearly as heavy as it looks, and most of the weight it concentrated on the front. If necessary, I can actually just hang my head exhaustedly from inside the mask, and you really can't tell the difference from the outside.

In the past I have used padding (a child's tutu became a neck-ruffle for my Giant Clown Head, and the Toyman Head utilized a giant novelty bowtie that I made from a wedge of couch foam), but not this time.

It should be noted that none of my heads are built for comfort... when faced with a choice, I take form over function every time, since I'm the only one who has to wear it and I know that I can manage.

pstephens5 years ago
Man! That's awesome. However, it must take forever.
pokiespout (author)  pstephens5 years ago
Without a doubt, the longest process of any mask I've made to date. Most of them took about two weeks, start to finish. This one occupied pretty much the entire month of August. The accompanying Giant Monster Hands were a huge, separate project on their own, and last night I finally got to start on the costume that I'll wear with it. Whew!
shadowfluid6 years ago
this is great! you are an accomplished artist! however, i think many people would like to see, at the least, one picture of the mask actually on you or someone else head. nice job!
pokiespout (author)  shadowfluid6 years ago
You're absolutely right. I will get on that!
pokiespout (author)  pokiespout6 years ago
Okay, here are a few pictures! They probably look a bit weird outside of the context of a costume. I am wearing one of my still-under-construction giant monster hands that will eventually be a part of the costume (and will be the same color scheme as the Horror Head!)
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HaHa! nice! thanks for the pics! i'm sure that everyone on instructables will enjoy seeing them! Can't wait to see the giant monster hands when they're done! Will you be making an 'ible on those as well, perchance?
pokiespout (author)  shadowfluid6 years ago
That's the plan! I've been taking copious pictures as I go along, mistakes and all. I'm just making them up as I build them, and for better or for worse that should all be apparent in the instructable!
Vladimyr6 years ago
I don't have any ideas for a name, but if you wanted to go with the "butcher" look you talked about you should look at the MacFarlane Toys Jack the Ripper toy. He has a bloody apron with a chain belt with various knives and hooks hanging from it. Very disturbing.

See the toy here!
pokiespout (author)  Vladimyr6 years ago
That's actually a pretty interesting look! A lot of the time I don't much care for MacFarlane sculpts, but that one is gross in a kind of classy way. Definitely something to think about, and I like the coat too. Thanks!
norml6 years ago
How about "Cuddles" with blaze orange scrub pants over stilts and a straight jacket?
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