Introduction: How to Make a Woodland Goblin Mask With Craft Store Fake Florals
I'm going to show you how to make a simple masquerade-style mask using really simple materials, along with some fake plants from your local craft store. This project has a lot of room to make your own 100% unique piece, so I'm going to show you how I did it and give you some ideas for how you could put your own spin on it!
I drew inspiration for this project from both the classic "Green Man" of leafy fame but also the masquerade ball scene in Labyrinth, which is one of my favorite movies. So it turned into a Green Man with a goblin twist.
I bought my most expensive items in the clearance section of my local JoAnn store, and made use of their many coupons, so this project only cost about $15.
- Craft foam (I used a 12" x 18" sheet that is 2mm thick; thicker would be better, so if you have 3mm or 4mm foam I'd recommend trying that. 5mm and upward would probably be a bit too thick.)
- Fake floral items (I used a leaf garland and
- Something to secure the mask to your head (elastic cord, ribbon, etc.)
- Hot glue and glue gun
- Marker and pen
- Acrylic craft paint (optional)
- Mod Podge or other craft glue (it needs to be able to adhere well to foam, and preferably also use as a sealant)
- Heat gun or hair dryer
- A mannequin or some sort of human head form. I used this one bought on Amazon:
15" Tall Male Mannequin Head Durable Plastic Flesh
I can tell you with certainty that it does indeed have durable plastic flesh. Its head is also actually human sized, so it's great for building masks on. Please note that this is an Amazon Affiliate link, which means if you click it and purchase I'll get a little bonus but it won't cost you anything extra.
You can build this without any sort of head form, but it'll be a lot harder. You can also make your own head form, here are some different types of Instructables for it:
Step 1: Plan Your Project
This doesn't need to be a particularly specific plan, but give yourself a general sense of what you want to make.
I did this step after buying my supplies, which might be a backward way of going about things, but I decided what to do based on what fake florals I could find in the craft store that were deeply discounted. (The stores have put out their Christmas florals now, so there were three full aisles with fall-themed items at 70% off. Score!) I purchased one garland of fall leaves, and three little "bouquet" type things with miscellaneous leaves and "branches" that I used for antlers.
If you have something very specific in mind, you can definitely sketch first and then go to the stores to find exactly what you're after. In the US, JoAnn and Hobby Lobby both have pretty well stocked florals; Michael's has some as well, but usually not as much of a selection.
A note on floral materials:
Unless you're planning to use some sort of rigid mask base instead of the foam technique I'm going to show you here, bear in mind that heavier items can distort or pull on your mask. For things like leaves, you'll find options made with light fabric, plastic, or foam. For this particular project, because I'm going to be layering leaves, the fabric ones worked best. I did buy a small piece with foam leaves but ended up not using them. The plastic stuff like ferns in particular are really great if you're going to glue them down to an otherwise plain mask like a sort of filigree, but if you use a ton of them your mask will get pretty heavy, and I'd recommend using those heavier materials with a rigid mask form like the pre-made ones you can buy.
Step 2: Make Your Mask Base
Print the template and cut out
I've created a digital version of my specific design that you can use (link to PDF below), you'll just need to cut out the mask and then attach the ears (they print separately to fit on 8.5" x 11" printer paper, cut two copies of the ears and tape in place before tracing your template onto foam).
If you'd prefer to make your own template, here's how I did it:
I began with this Blank Mardi Gras Half Mask template just to get the general proportions and eye hole position correct. When you're searching for templates on the Internet, be careful about size! Most you'll find are sized for children, so make sure to cut it out and actually try it on your face for size before you use it as a guide for your creation.
Because I wanted to create a custom shape, I used that mask template as a guide and traced it onto a large sheet of paper (okay, I didn't have any big paper so I used a paper grocery bag I cut open). I added on the ears and other changes, then folded the paper in half and cut the design out, so it would be symmetrical. Use this time to make more changes if you want; try the template against your dummy head and see how it looks. I cut my ears over-large because I planned to pinch part of them to make a curve in the ear, but it turned out to not really be necessary, so I cut my ears down smaller as you can see in the template I actually traced to my foam.
Trace your template onto your foam sheet and cut it out
If you're using my template, you'll need to position it diagonally on your 12" x 18" foam sheet, because of thd ears. I just placed it on the template on the sheet and traced it with a permanent marker. If you're using black, you'll need something like an opaque metallic pen, or just find a way to very carefully cut it while keeping your template in place. If you're planning to leave any bare foam that's not covered or painted, make sure you cut inside your lines to keep from having marker lines that will show in places like the back of the ear, which we're going to fold over a little.
A note on foam color: If you want to paint the foam on your finished project to create a more realistic look, or use a color like metallics that you won't find foam available in, you don't need to worry much about what color foam you use. Do bear in mind though that there may be spots that will show through the decor you're going to apply. I've used bright yellow here mostly so you can see in my pictures what exactly I'm doing, but if I were just making this as an item to wear I might have used red or black. If I was making a winter themed mask that would be light colored, I'd probably use white. Just think about what would make the best base color for what you have in mind.
Step 3: Shape the Foam to Your Head Form and Paint
Place your mask on your head form and use something to hold it in place that will also kind of mold it to your head form's face; I put a rubber band around it, specifically across the bridge of the nose. This will leave creases in the foam but since I intended to cover the whole front I didn't care.
Use your heat gun or hair dryer, set on low heat, to apply some heat to your mask, particularly over the bridge of the nose, the forehead, the cheeks, and the ears. Heat one section at a time and then use your fingers to shape the mask to the contours of the head form. If the edges of your mask start to curl up, you're applying too much heat; hold your heat gun further away or turn it down.
For the ears, I purposely applied enough heat to start the edges curling just a bit, and then just crunched it a little with my hand to make a nice curve in the ear.
When you remove it from the head form, it should hold its shape.
Painting your mask
If you want to paint your mask, this is a great time to do that. DON'T paint before shaping with heat, trying to paint then shape will cause your paint to crack. I waited until later and painted just the ears, but doing it later than this stage made it a little bit of a pain.
First, apply a coat of Mod Podge, thinned white glue, or other sealant to the mask; this will seal the foam and give you a better surface for your paint. (If you're using something other than Mod Podge, search the Internet first and see if that substance works with craft foam. The foam is a sort of plastic and some things will melt it!) Let sealant dry completely.
Then go back in and paint however you like. I used acrylic craft paints, but you could also use spray paint. Spray paint's a bit more difficult with craft foam, I'd recommend using the acrylic enamel kind.
Step 4: Deconstruct Your Florals
It's time to destroy some stuff! Pull apart your florals to get at all your parts, and sort them by whatever criteria you want (I sorted mine by size, color, and whether the leaf curved to the right or left).
Most of the thin fabric leaves that have plastic "stems" can just be peeled easily off the stem.
If you're cutting something larger like a whole branch, these typically have wire in the middle to help shape them, so use wire cutters! I also use wire cutters sometimes to snip off leaves, but in this case you're going to layer the leaves so having them be flatter and just the fabric part works better.
I also had two pieces I'd bought because they had this sort of fake branch in them that I thought looked antler-ish. I left the full length of wire on them because I'm going to use it to glue those securely.
Step 5: Glue Your Antlers, String/ribbon, and Extra Padding
If you're adding antlers like these, shape them to your mask. I bent mine inward a little, and curved them around to the ears; they actually help hold the mask's shape. Also cut your string or ribbon you're going to use to hold the mask on your head. I used a length of soft elastic cord.
Use a few pieces of tape to hold things in place and applied hot glue in places around those.
I have a heavy hand with glue and the hot glue took forever to cool and hold, so be patient.
To make the mask more comfortable against my face, and also give it a little more rigidity, I cut some of my scrap foam pieces and reinforced the forehead and cheeks, and specifically over the wires and where my mess of hot glue was.
Now try the mask on your form again and see how it looks!
Step 6: Experiment With Your Layout
On your paper template, try laying out some of your leaves so you can see how they'll look. Refer to your drawing if you need to.
If you've used fabric florals, you can also use scissors to cut them down if they're too big or you need a piece of a specific size.
In your piles, note whether there are any where you've only ended up with a few of that particular size/color/shape and don't plan on using those heavily in your mask, you'll run out and blow your symmetry!
If you're going to be layering leaves like I did, take note of where you need to lay the first ones and how they'll need to overlap each other.
Step 7: Apply Glue and Start Adding Your Florals
I applied a thin layer of Mod Podge to my whole mask and let it dry just a little so it was tacky but not wet. This let me put leaves on but easily peel them off again if I didn't like how it was going. Once I had decided for sure I wanted it there, I applied a little more glue beneath to make it wet again so it'd hold.
I added leaves all around the eyes, and cut a bunch of little ones to cover the bridge of the nose area.
Don't worry if you get the Mod Podge on top of things, it'll dry clear. I also used gloss Mod Podge and applied a thin layer over all the leaves when I was done. It gives them a little sheen I think makes them look a bit more real, and it helps seal everything in place so if you missed gluing any edges or anything they aren't sticking up.
Let dry completely.
I painted my foam a bit late, so at this point I also applied a layer of Mod Podge to the ears, let dry, and then came back to paint. I applied a thin layer of Brown Iron Oxide acrylic craft paint to the whole ear, then used a sponge to dab on a Barnyard Red to match the dark red tones in some of my leaves.
Step 8: Become a Feral Woodland Goblin!
You're all done! Now get dressed for the Goblin City masquerade party!
Participated in the