Creating Any Shape Papier Mâché Mask




About: I adore instructables and use it when I'm playing with ideas for my students (I'm a certified art teacher and the Art Director for a children's summer camp). I have found that it fuels my creative process a...

This instructable will teach you how to make a light weight and comfortable mask of limited only by your imagination!  These can be used as wearable masks, wall hangings, or masks to put somewhere and scare the tar out of a friend, relative or enemy.

While many of us wear masks for Halloween, and believe me this is a great way to make your own unique Halloween mask, it's just pain fun to make a mask anytime of year!

If you create a mask, post it, I would LOVE to see it!

Let's get started....


A wonderful instructbale reader pointed out to me that this technique is used by a wonderful artist named Jonni Good, I picked up this way of making masks from a workshop taught by another art teacher, I had no idea that this trickles back down to Ms. Good and her years of work!  So do check her out, I did and I was BLOWN AWAY by what she can do!

Step 1: Materials Needed

Blue Shop Towels
Plaster of Paris
White School Glue
Thin elastic
Hot Glue Gun
Petroleum Jelly (Vaseline)
Two large bowls
Face/Mask/Face Form (I really like the Make-a-Mask® Reusable Face Forms)
Oil Based Clay (Molding Clay) - The more oil the better

Step 2: Gather Your Materials and Your Idea

Pick out your mask form and your idea for a mask.

Step 3: Build the Mask

With the oil based clay create what you want your mask to look like.  The clay is going to act as a mold so, what you create with the clay will be what you mask winds up looking like.  Fine details can be added using the mache, and not needed during the clay process.

Don't worry about the clay color, it make no difference at all what colors are being used.

(Side note: I've made several of these, I was bad about taking pictures so you will this process in the form of several different masks)

Step 4: Petroleum Jelly

Once your mask mold is finished, take petroleum jelly and rub it all over your mask.  If you are using a form that has empty spots, go ahead and put the petroleum jelly there as well.  The petroleum jelly will allow you to remove the paper mache from the mold.  Failure to do this process will cause you grief later as you are scraping clay out of your mask.  (trust me I did this once by mistake)

Step 5: Twice As Nice

Mask molds can be used more than once!  So you could make an army of minions if you felt the need.

Step 6: Papier Mâché

This is a messy process, make sure you are in a work space you don't mind getting dirty or cover things in plastic.

Take the blue shop paper towels and rip them into sheets.  Wet the sheets in a bowl and ring them out.  This helps break down the binder in the towel.  Mix equal amounts of plaster with white glue then add a splash of vinegar.  The vinegar keeps the plaster from getting to hard to fast.

I like doing things by cup so:

1 Cup White School Glue
1 Cup Plaster of Paris
1 Teaspoon of Vinegar

Once your mixture is nice and smooth, dip the damp paper towel into the mixture and place over your mask form.  Use your fingers to smooth the towel evenly over the mask and get you details in.  If you create a wrinkle, and you don't want it there, now is the time to remove it or you are stuck with it.

You CAN tear the towel into strips and dip, but the nice part about this paper towel is it's durable and soft, I would keep it pretty big chunks.

This is when you can add details as well, use small bits of paper to create bumps and so on, then sandwich them in another layer of paper towel.

Two layers is plenty to get a nice sturdy mask.  You can make more layers, but I like just sticking with two.

Step 7: Dried

Once the mask is dry, you can remove it from the hump mold.

Carefully take an edge and lift it away from the clay.  Don't rush this, you don't want to rip the mask. 

It will likely still be soft, right now the clay and petroleum jelly will be keeping the underside moist. 

Once the mask is off it's form you can leave it so the back dries.

Step 8: Details

Now, you have an edge around your mask, it's time to trim and cut out what you need.  If you have a hole in your mask or it ripped, at this time you can whip up a little of the Papier Mâché mixture, dip a small bit of a paper towel in the mixture, and fill it from behind and let it dry.

Step 9: Paint It! Bling It!

Using acrylic paints paint you mask to get your desired look.  You can also add other details.  For example, on my cats, I used an x-acto knife to cut holes on it's cheeks then used an 80 lb fishing line to make whiskers.  I glued the whiskers in place from behind with a hot glue gun.

Once your paint is dry, you can cut slits and "string" the elastic through to make it a mask.  I used a dab of hot glue on the interior of the mask after I knotted the elastic to keep it in place.

Step 10: Gallery

Here are examples of some of my masks as well as some student (camper) masks.

Step 11: Poofrabbit's Tips and Tricks

Take your time, it's not a race.  I forget this great tip myself, I get excited, as time goes on I slow down, but learn from me....SLOW DOWN.

Draw it out!  It's always helpful to draw out your idea so you have a good solid design.

Plaster gets hot.  When plaster gets wet it starts a happy chemical reaction, that reaction creates heat.  You can burn yourself with plaster.  The vinegar helps with this, but just be mindful so you are not bathing in plaster.

Paint is your friend!  If you made an error it's amazing what you can hide with paint!

ENJOY!  No matter what, always enjoy what you do.  I don't feel there is a right or wrong way to art as long as you are enjoying yourself and learning!

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45 Discussions

Jason Summer

Question 1 year ago

Sho, in your recipe, is the 1 cup plaster in liquid or powder form?


2 years ago

This could not be more different from my process, but its really interesting and I may have to try something along these lines. Cool stuff!


3 years ago

I made a kind of complicated mask so im going to attibute my problems to that however it was extremely hard to dry because vaseline does not dry at all. therefore my mask ripped every time i tried to handle it. Also I wish you said how much plaster to cover the strips with. It could be my own ignorance but my mask is just crumbling every time I touch it. But thanks for the general steps, it justs that i was trying to add horns and that just messed up everything.


3 years ago

I'm an art teacher short on modeling clay. Would it be possible for me to have students use the same technique ( with the mold, jelly and shop cloth) either A.) directly on the mold or b.) using other materials to build up the surface, like newspaper and masking tape with jelly on top?


3 years ago

I want to ask if there's a way to smoothen the surface, because it looks rough almost in all masks and what I have in mind should be clean smooth surface, any tips?

Jamie FranzH

4 years ago on Introduction

Great instructable! I made an Animal mask for my rock star costume.

Animal mask.jpg

4 years ago on Introduction

We are using reusable white face masks and paper mache. Do I need to cover the masks prior to adding the paper mache?

Fabulous instructions which I am going to follow to the letter next week as I have been tasked with making a troll (from Frozen) mask for my daughter's dance show!! Thank you


4 years ago on Introduction

Thanks so much for this "instructable" !!!! because of your kindness my Vintage Halloween Party is going to be a big hit! I would have been lost if I had not found this page. It has taken a few trial runs, but I think we have it figured out now! I was wondering though if there is a specific type of Plaster of Paris that was used in this tutorial?


4 years ago on Introduction

Do you ever have a problem with the mask fitting on the face? Because you build up the front of the mask mold with clay, and it is hollow, the mask may not have the right shape to sit on the nose/brow..? This may not be a problem, but I want to try really building up the brow area, and I'm afraid it will sit awkwardly when someone tries to wear it. Could you glue felt to the inside? hmmm...


Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

You can pull it off the mold in 12 to 24 hrs then give it another day to dry off the mold


5 years ago on Introduction

This is my new favorite way to paper mache, so thanks so much for posting this. Is there any trick to getting the left over vaseline off the inside of the mask?

2 replies

Reply 5 years ago on Introduction

I also love this technique! You can use a towel to wipe off any excess that may be left. I didn't have a whole heap in mine, I did a wipe down then added a acrylic paint. I had one of my masks on Halloween no issues with paint or pealing so my assumption is that got off what it needed to. :)