Moishe/Carol "Where the Wild Things Are" Paper Mache Mask




As we are big fans of the book, we decided that I would be a "Wild Thing" and my son would be "Max" for Halloween this year. The "Max" suit was handsewn and adapted from a pattern as well as the look of the suit in the recent film adaptation. The head was modeled from the art in the book, rather than the muppet-like creatures in the film. The idea came to me to create the head from wire and paper mache, faux fur, acrylic paint, and marker.

Step 1: Framing Up the Head

After a little thinking, I decided that chicken wire would work for the oversized "Wild Thing" head. I first formed a cylinder with a length of chicken wire, attaching the edges with pliers and wire cutters. Pinching the bottom together and flaring it out provided a sufficient "collar" for the mask. The top was bend and twited into shape by pinching the top edge together with excess .20 gauge wire.

Step 2: The Horns and Top Coat

I took some excess chiken wire and formed the 2 horns, attaching them to the top of the head with more wire. The head was a bit too round at first so I flattened it a little, relying on the wire to keep the shape.

The first coat of paper mache went on the top of the head and sat overnight with a fan blowing to dry.

Step 3: Finishing Up the 1st Coat

The mask was then turned upside down so that the bottom layer could be applied without slipping off.

Step 4: Trying It On

Once the 1st coat of paper mache was on, I drew on some facial features for effect and tried the mask on. Apart from some sharp wire edges which were fixed easily enough by turn them in toward the paper mache, the mask fit perfectly...and was surprisingly light!

I then applied a final coat of paper mache, patching up small holes that appeared in the drying process, smooting out some of the rougher areas, as well as a layer to the collar.

Step 5: Painting the Mask

I used acrylic paints and tried to match the colors of the Sendak drawings. The face was a flesh color, the horns plain white, the nose was a reddish-orange, yellow eyes, and white teeth. I outlined everything in black to match the art of the book. Once again I used a fan to dry everything overnight.

Step 6: Adding the Fur and Fine Lines

Once the paint was try, I cut 2 lengths of faux fur and glued them onto the paper mache. The first length had 2 holes cut in them so it could slip over the horns and then wrapped all the way down the sides of the face and came together as a "goatee" on his chin. The other length was used to cover the entire back of the mask. A portion of "Max" suit fur was glue around the base as a collar. 

"Pencil" lines were added to the face using a sharpie, once again to emulate the drawings in the book. Holes were cut in the nostrils with an exacto knife so I could see out and breathe.

Step 7: Final Touches

We found some old clothes at Goodwill and drew a pattern closely resembling the scales/feathers that the character has in the book. "Max's" crown was made from matte board and gold spraypaint.

There you have it!

Participated in the
Halloween Contest



    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest
    • Beauty Tips Contest

      Beauty Tips Contest
    • Classroom Science Contest

      Classroom Science Contest

    7 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    great job, another thing you could do is paper mache in around a large paper lantern.


    8 years ago on Introduction

    My grandson will be Max(also in real life) for Halloween. I think it would be fun for his "funloving" granny to be One of the Wild things, though I think I would go with a big balloon for the base. That is what Ive used for mask making and pinatas in the past. Love the "realistic" capture of the character. Its even simple enough for me to recapture. Thanks


    9 years ago on Introduction

    Nice, next time you make something like this, you can cut out the eyes or other openings and cover with material from pantyhose or tights. You can see from the inside as it appears opaque on the outside.  It would make the mask not as claustrophobic and that is what mascot costumes use.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the suggestion. I actually did cut out a portion of the mask and tried attaching tights-like material, but the chicken wire frame showed through and decided that with the way tha mask fell on my face, the holes in the nostrils were sufficient...and invisible!

    Q: is the Moishe for Maurice "Moishe" Sendak, or is that Carol's original name? also, if so, what are all of their names and how did you find out? I am a Max and when I was a kid I gave them my own names because I loved them so much. I'm glad they made a movie with respect for the book and his vision. Most of the things developed from kid's books are crass, trite, and lacking in depth.
    (go check out the original "Cloudy with a chance of meatballs". It was a beautiful book illustrated impeccably...the movie? not so much.)
    Your face is great, it captures the fun in his expression well and your Max looks like he's havin' a ball!

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks for the comment. The original names, as far as I can tell, were given to the wild things by Sendak when he was working on the opera adaptation with Oliver Knussen: Sendak gave the monsters the names of his relatives: Tzippy, Moishe, Bruno, Emile, and Bernard