Introduction: Epic Papier Mache Indian Cannibal Mask!

in this Instructable I will teach you in detail how to make this particular Indian cannibal mask, plus i will teach you the art of making paper mache masks! This mask is almost completely recycled or recyclable. Paper mache masks are a great cheap thing for halloween and can be applied to more than just halloween but for any other time a mask is needed.

I will be making a costume to go along with the mask by the end of this week!!

Step 1: Shopping, I Mean Recycling List.

So for the mold for the mask you are going to need clay. About 3kg worked for me.

You are going to need a nice slightly head shaped object to mold your mask on (If you are lucky enough to have a Styrofoam head than use it). I used a Bicycle helmet to mold on, but lobster pot buoys, elongated bowls, and Head shaped rocks work as well.

You are going to need plastic wrap or those thin plastic bags that you fill with fruit at the grocery store to cover up the clay before molding.

You are going to need preferably brown paper bags to use for the paper mache, but any less stiff type of paper will work as well such as phone books, newspaper, or old textbooks that you hate with all your guts!

Some sort of paper mache solvent will be needed. You can get professional paper mache at art stores, but if you dont have that then a flour water and elmer's glue mixture will be fine.

You are going to need simple poster paints for when the mask is dry and it is painting time. You will need mostly white paint and then all of the primary colors plus black.

For the embellishments on the mask you are going to need to collect some big red leaves. I used maple leaves, they work best but if you can't possibly find some big red maple leaves then use big red oak leaves, or any other big red leaves.

You will also need any long dry grass, make sure you have a lot of this because it will be needed in the costume part of the build.

Last but not least you are going to need a large amount of big long, seagull, eagle, crow, or any other big bird feathers. Find as many as you possibly can, these can be found best at beaches, dunes, parks, and sometimes forests. These will also be used in the costume and the more the better with feathers because you will need a lot! I you cant possibly find any feathers, then go to a craft store and get the most real looking black and white feathers as you can find.

Step 2: Tools. (reusable)

You will need a glue gun and lots of extra glue to be safe.

You will need a stapler and/or if you can possibly get a sewing machine. You will also need lots of extra staples to be safe because a lot will be used.

Your going to need scissors, an exacto knife, and a butter knife for prying your mask off the mold and for smoothing of your mold, and mold surface.

Step 3: The Mold!

To make the mold we need to cover the whole molding surface with about a cm of clay or more. Then we need to lop on all our features. We need to smooth them to make sure they come together with one another. just like in my mask.

Make sure the anatomy and proportions are right. I just took a picture of myself making a face just like in the mask and looked off that. For this particular mask i am going for a crazy but still high jawed and proud sort of face. I put 4 jagged teeth on the top and 2 small ones on the bottom.

Once our rough version of the face is done we must smooth it into our final draft. We need to make it as smooth as we possibly, possibly can because after paper macheing its going to be very rough.
We can start shaving at it with the blade of some scissors or with a flat ended butter knife. We also can use our hands to rub it down and smooth it. Dampening the surface can help sometimes when smoothing.

Step 4: The Art of Papier Mache Preparation!

Now that we have our lovely shiny smooth mold me need to cover the whole thing as tight and as smooth as we can in plastic wrap. Try to get it in the cracks of the teeth, in between the pupil and retina of the eye, basically as detailed as we can possibly get it! Try not to have any wrinkles but if they can be pressed pretty much flat then it's okay.

Now we need to mix up our paper mache solvent. If you are using the professional stuff (which i strongly advise) the instructions are on the bottle, something like leaving it overnight until it gets thick enough but otherwise i dont know.

If you are using flour, water, and elmers glue (which is still fine) then follow these instructions: Mix about a cup of flour in with i think 1 1/2 c to 2 c water and then about half a cup of school glue all together. Beat until no clumps then prepare to get dirty!

Make sure your poor old floor will not be destroyed by the paper mache by putting out an old plastic table cloth or newspapers. Just be sure that wet pages covered in the stuff wont be sticking to it.

Step 5: The Art of Papier Mache!

Now that we have our prepared workspace we are ready for paper macheing! To do this with one sheet at a time we get a big piece of whatever material we are using,grab a handful of paper mache glop, and slop it on to the paper. We then lather it around, if the paper is not wet enough we may have to use more. We repeat with both sides. To do a two sheet thick sheet we simply press 2 lathered and ready sheets together and make sure they are aligned.

When we tear off a piece to put on the mold the 2 sheets should feel like one thicker one. I show how big each piece should be when we stick it to the mold in the picture below.

Eventually the entire mold will have to be covered 5-6 times for one sheet pieces or 3 times for two sheet pieces. For the first layer they need to overlap each-other just a little bit but too much of this can lead to lumps in our mask and too little can lead to holes in the mask.

Sometimes if loose ends of paper are sticking up, it is good to dampen your fingers in paper mache and run them along the mask. Make it as smooth as you can. If you are a beginner some of these flaws cna be sanded away in the later steps so don't kill yourself over it.

Step 6: Finishing Up the Molded Paper Mache. (and Cleaning Up the Clay)

After we have sufficiently applied our paper mache we need to let our mask dry in a warm dry place for overnight. The longer it sits the better.

Once our lovely mask has sat overnight and is completely 100% dry, not damp, but stone, cold, bone dry we can start taking it off the mold. This can be sincerely tricky. We can start by sliding the butter knife as far in deep as we can get from the edges of the mask. We need to do this all the way around and eventually start prying the mask up off the mold. The nose probably will be the hardest part to pry off but if the mask is dry then it should be pretty strong and we can just pry it of from the edges alone.

After all that we can enjoy the first tastes of our progressing masterpiece. We just need to snip off the excess paper off the edge to make it strait.

Now since wasting is just horribly we need to save all of the clay off of the mold. We can do this by slicing off all the features then scraping off an possible excess clay that is left. Any clay that has fallen off the mask we can pick up by pressing with a wet lump of clay. Make sure you get all of the tiny scraps, I have heard stories of how my puppetry teacher lost a bathtub worth of clay from not doing that.

Step 7: Sanding and Reinforcing.

We need to make sure our mask is strong and can survive a crazy halloween night and more. I cut strips of cardboard with scissors and hot glued them along the edges, along the brow, and down into the nose. I also hot glued a small strip of cardboard in between the eyes, to that i hot glued a plastic adjustable band that i got from the inside of a bicycle helmet. You need to find a strong secure way to connect the mask to your face nice n' strong because nothing is more annoying than a mask that keeps falling off. I hot glued some diagonal support bars to the strap for longitudal strength and it was ready to wear!

We need to poke eye holes at about the bottom of the nose. You can check where they should be by drawing crosses where you think your eyes would be. From that you can approximate where the holes should be.

Sanding: I would probably start with a rougher paper to get out the big lumps and then use a small one to shine it up. We can't get as many of the overlap bumps out bet we can get flaws and loose ends in the paper out easily.

Step 8: The Feathers!

We need to hot glue feathers on to mask going all the way along the rim until about where your actual eyes are. I had the stem about 2cm along the rim of the mask. Try to start with the bigger feathers on the top and work your way down to the smaller feathers. This way it isn't as wide and you can maneuver around better. Once the feathers are down glue another strip of cardboard on top of them to keep them down, this strip is going to be the base for the rest of the embellishments.

Step 9: Applying Your "big Red Leaves"

Cut the stem of your big red leaves to about 3 cm. Hot glue them on along the cardboard strip that we placed over the feathers. They should be about 3-8 cm apart depending on the size of the leaves. We don't need that many here just make sure that when you look from the front of the mask it looks like a solid band of color going all along the rim. When i put on these leaves they looked a lot cooler than i was expecting them to look! After all, Native Americans would use whatever they found in the wild for their masks.

Step 10: The Straw Backing

This is another tricky step. We need to take a big bunch of our dry grass and try to arrange the bottoms as close as we can to the top. Place down a strip of fabric long enough to go over the top of your head ear to ear on the top and bottom of the side of the grass where the ends are collected. Spread out the straw evenly in between the strips of fabric and staple once completely along the edge on one side, then once completely along the edge on the other side. Then add another strip of fabric about in the middle of the grass veil and staple from the side with the grass showing. Make sure it is completely stapled. Your stapler probably wont quite reach into the middle so part some of the straw and make a small clearing for it and staple from there in the middle.

To attach this to the mask we need to tie a string to the ends and middle of the top strip. I tied my strings on the ends of the veil to the crossbars that held up the head-strap Tie the top string to the very base of the feather right on the top of the mask. can see how long it has to be from the picture below. To put on the mask we simply lift the veil up and let it go while wearing it.

Step 11: Painting!!!!

We need to paint the mask a base color of white to cover up the newspaper texture and writing and stuff. Once that dries we can draw on a guide to how we will paint the mask. You want to do this with a light color or light pencil (not sharpie like i did) because We can see through the bright colors and see the old markings which can sometimes be incorrect. I made my mask with the pacific northwest style, there are plenty of images of that online.

On my mask i painted after putting on all the feathers and leaves because i wanted the paint job to match the embellishments. I ended up making a really black, red, yellow, and orange type of mask. I also had a little white and blue but i thought putting on a lot of blue made it look fake and stupid so i put more black than blue.

Step 12: Finito!

My mask came out epic. It was really light, strong, and user friendly. My paint job came out really nice and i think i did a good job of capturing the pacific northwest style. At first i made the lips solid red but then striped to look more interesting. I also made red around the eyes to make him look creepier but i didn't get as much of the cannibalism look as i was looking for.

Please don't forget to vote for me in the Halloween contest and if you have any questions at all about paper macheing and my mask feel free to ask!!

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