Make your own custom Day of the Dead mask and decorate it. Start now, the mask needs to dry before decorating. I let mine dry overnight.
Step 1: Purchase the Mask Making Gauze Strips
Purchase moldable plaster impregnated gauze strip material. I used Pacon 52720 Plast'r Craft Plaster Impregnated Gauze Strips. I bought the 20 lbs. box which will make a LOT of masks. If you buy a different brand, make sure it's nontoxic.
Step 2: Set Up
Protect your working area by laying down newspapers and rag towels. Wear clothes that can take a bit of abuse. (You'll be happy you did.) I found that stray plaster drips did wash out but only after scraping off the blobs.
Step 3: Cut Strips
Cut the strip material into smaller, more manageable strips. Especially necessary if making masks with kids.
You will want to do 3-4 layers. This ensures your mask will be strong enough to withstand removal from your face.
Step 4: Fun With Petroleum Jelly
To prevent the gauze strips from sticking to your skin and hair, throughly slather on a thick layer of petroleum jelly.
Don't forget your eyebrows and hairline. Do your best to pull hair back with clips or bands.
Step 5: Buddy System
Get a bowl of warm water and a buddy! Wet the strips in the warm water and use your fingers to squeegee excess water from the strip.
Carefully lay the strip on your buddy's face. Leave the eye area and the nostril area of the nose open.
Several styles can be done, full face (eyes and nostril area open), half mask like the Lone Ranger/Zoro, Fantom of the Opera.
Use care when placing the strips and smooth out the surface as you go. Strips can be folded to add strength to an area. Make sure that the sides have enough layering. (Once the mask is removed you can punch a hole for ribbon or string.)
Step 6: Waiting...
Once the mask has been applied, you must wait for the plaster to set well enough that the material becomes rigid. You will be able to feel it slightly lift off/separate from your face as it dries. After 10 minutes, move your face muscles and begin to loosen the adhesion. Wait another 10 minutes and remove with care.
Step 7: Removal
You should be able to feel if the mask firm and keeping shape. This means it will be strong enough for removal.
Carefully and slowly lift the mask off of your face.
I needed help removing mine as I had a lot of hair stuck to the inside. Ouch. See step 4!
If you intend to use a strap or ribbon to hold your mask on, now is the time to punch a hole in each side.
Step 8: Horns? Beaks? Cheeks?
The mask is off your face but still damp. If you want to get wild, now's the time. You can add material to the mask and create
horns, a crazy nose or very high skull-like cheek bones!
Step 9: Let Your Mask Dry
Let your mask dry. It will get stronger and be sandable.
Step 10: Decorate
This is the really fun part! You can get really wild and creative decorating your masks. Try markers, paint, glitter, flowers!
The mask pictured was done with a Sharpie marker on an unsanded, bumpy surface.
Enjoy your custom Day of the Dead mask!