Paper Mache Masks

How to Make a Pantalone Mask, Part 3

In the first two videos I created a mold for a traditional Pantalone mask with modeling clay, and then covered it with two layers of fast-setting paper mache. In this video I show you how I finish the mask. This is similar to one of the mask projects from my new book “How to Make Masks!” which is now available on Amazon.com.

I really like how this guy came out. That bright face and long nose would really get some attention.

By the way, I’ve been contacted by several artists who have blogs of their own who intend to put up links to my new book, or even write reviews – which I appreciate very much, of course  ;). If you do link to the book, be sure to use your own Amazon.com associates link if you have one. And if you write a review, please let me know so I can link back to you.

If you missed the other videos in this series, you can find them here – How to Make a Mask, Part 1, and How to Make a Mask, Part 2.

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About the author

Jonni Good

I'm a sculptor, author, gardener, and grandma. When I'm not catering to the needs of my obnoxious cat, I make videos, create stuff, and play around with paper mache. I'm also the author of several highly-rated books on paper mache. You'll find them in the sidebar, and on amazon.com

44 Comments

  • Hi Jonni,

    I love your masks and am eager to try your techniques. I’ve never worked with paper mache so I have a question about its stability. For my current project, I am considering making a paper mache mask form and then covering the mask in beadwork. I created a cyborg mask this way by using a plastic mask form (you can see it here: http://news.vanderbilt.edu/2013/10/nightmares-exhibit/). I would like to create a custom form in paper mache which I would then bead over. Do you believe that the paper mache form would be stable enough to handle the extra weight of the beads?

    Thanks,

    Teresa

  • Hi Jonni! I was wondering something today. Could I make a batch of your paper mache clay and put less flour or less paper in it, to make the clay able to be “piped” onto a mask, like piping cake frosting? I thought this could give some really neat details. What do you think?

    Jesse

    • Hi Jesse. I did try using the air dry clay recipe in a garlic press, to get long noodles. It worked just fine. The air dry clay recipe is a variation of the original paper mache clay, but it’s smoother and has less paper. If you try this, I definitely want to see how that mask turns out!

      • Thanks a lot! I’ll let you know how I make out with it. I also wanted to ask your opinion on a good sealer for these sorts of masks? Also, when sealed, how well do they hold up to humid areas or being worn outside? Thanks a lot!

        Jesse

        • I like to use an acrylic varnish, but you might want to seal the outside of your mask with one of the water-based varnishes from the hardware store, like Verathane or Minwax. They usually have a slight odor, so you might not want to use those products on the inside surface, though. The varnish should protect well against humidity, and the mask should hold up just fine if you’re wearing them for a few hours outside in the rain. No varnish is completely waterproof, but many people use varnish to protect their paper mache for temporary outdoor use.

  • Hello Jonni

    Came across your videos when considering to make a japanese demon Hannah mask. Love the video’s and your work. I haven’t got very far in my project as of yet. Apart from making my own mask form; by using plaster of Paris and bandages on my face. Don’t worry, I followed health and safety on that one :) I thought doing some research before putting plaster on my face would be a wise idea haha. You talk in your video about a gesso recipe that gives you a porcelain finish. I just wondered what that recipe is, as I want a smooth shine surface to my mask.

    Thank you so much Jonni been having fun following your works and hope to do some more crafting soon.

    Flaire (London,UK)

    • Hi Flaire. I use a home-made gesso made with joint compound and Elmer’s glue. I think the UK you would call these products joint filler and PVA glue. There’s no specific recipe – you mix to get the consistency you want. Use it in thin coats, “sand” with a lightly damp sponge or use fine sandpaper, while wearing a mask to keep the dust out of your lungs. And good luck with your mask – I hope you show it to use when it’s done!

  • This might be helpful for other’s trying out masks who cannot get their hands on Shop Towels. I’ve heard of a women in West Cork, Ireland using J-Cloths. I don’t know what her exact method is but it might be worth a try if people are stuck. J-Cloths seem to universally available but they would make the process more expensive.

  • BTW I’m from the UK and the Shop towel is also available from Halfords (much easier than Costco) and don’t have to buy in bulk….

  • Hi Jonni, I love your masks and videos, thank you so much for sharing. I am going to make the Pantalone mask for our amateur dramatic performance of a Commedia De L’Arte play..
    I was wondering if you could tell me the type of paint you used (were they oil / acrylic ??) and I could tell you said Cadmium Light, but couldn’t tell the other colour.
    Very many thanks

  • Hi Jonni,
    I’m getting quite familiar with your site now as I keep coming back and checking out other projects that you’ve produced. Love all of your work by the way, think what you are doing is wonderful and you are a true artist…
    The Pantalone mask was the first project of yours that I came across which is why that was the style that I chose to try out first. I’ve included a photo of how it turned out, I was quite pleased with the finished result and enjoyed dry brush layering different shades of colour to give it a leathery or wooden effect. I did have trouble with the plaster of paris though, I just found that it dried way to quick for me, I like to take my time with things and the paste ended up becoming unusable before I had time to get the towels to a state that I was happy with. I ended up using Pollyfiller which is a powder mixed with water to fill small cracks and holes on walls, it dries a lot slower than plaster of paris, I found I had 30mins+ before it started to thicken too much. I didn’t use Elmer’s but replaced it with a general PVA Bond that I found in a local hardware shop, I also didn’t bother with the vinegar because of the naturally longer drying time. The shop towels are an amazing product and I managed to find them in Halfords (UK) after a quick Google search.
    Anyway enough of my rambling, thanks again for your wonderful Website and I look forward to my next attempt at paper mache making an Orc mask using this same recipe but may try to use a third layer of shop towel just to add a bit more strength… Thanks again, Tony…

    • Hi Tony. Your masks came out really nice. The finish really does have an organic look to it, like leather or wood. Thanks for showing it to us.

      • I was coming online to thank Jonni for your amazing work on this website. Then I read through the comments on this page. And tada! The answer to my problems.

        Decided to try your method for mask making. I have been making masks (Full and commedia style) for a few years using a corrugate cardboard and PVA method. I wanted to try your method to see if it is faster. It takes me about 8 hours over several days to make a mask. There is a lot of drying time!

        So I have everything in place but no Plater of Paris and none due into my city of Cork in South West Ireland for another two weeks! I’m itching to try it out and then I come online and find another user of this website’s solution… Polyfilla.

        For me that is what is amazing about this website. Jonni shares her knowledge and love through this amazing website. But then the visitors here also share their learnings. We enrich each other!

        One point on the traditional Commedia Style Half Mask. I use them in performance and theatre workshops rather than as show pieces or as part of a costume. In performance the preferred mask is continued down until the lip, either partially or fully covering the upper lip. This is to distort the wearer’s natural way of speaking and force them to adapt to the mask’s way of speaking. As such, it feeds character development. Using mask’s created this way in rehearsal or workshop is incredible. The same mask can be worn on different occasions by people who have never seen the mask animated before and yet create almost identical characters! It’s pure magic!

        I’ve enclosed a picture of a full mask I created using the corrugated/pva method. Hopefully be back soon with shop towel method one!

        • Thanks, Orla. We do have a great community here, don’t we? I learn so much from our readers – and the info you added about using masks in the theater is great!

          I hope your shop-towel mask works out well. Be sure to let us know how it turns out.

  • Hi Jonni. I want to start by saying how much I love your site. What a wealth of information! I can’t wait to whip up some of the new PMC recipe (as soon as I find my scale 😉 But for now, I have some questions/issues with this shop towel technique:

    I had recently begun making a PM dress form, using the standard newspaper/craft paper flour technique (layered onto the outside of a foam dress form. The plan is to cut it away afterward). After 4 layers, I realized I no longer had the patience to go on, 😉 So I headed over here to see what new techniques you had to share. I was super excited to see this plaster/shop towel technique, and I already had the shop towels! I love how stretchy the shop rags are, but here’s my issue: I’m finding that the torn edges of the towels make quite an obvious ridge where they overlap. 20 times more noticeable than brown grocery bags. As much as I’ve tried smoothing them, getting them extra saturated, using fingers, tools…they are extremely apparent. I don’t think gesso will cover these ridges. How come your mask didn’t look this way? Even before the gesso, it looked great! I noticed a guest post here about using wood filler to smooth things out, but there wasn’t very much of an explanation about it. I’m sure it would take a lot of wood filler! I’m wondering if it’d be possible to do a “skim coat” of joint compound with a spackling knife over the entire surface, just like what they do to walls. Would this be prone to cracking? I really want to figure this out. Sorry for the rambling question. :)

    • Hi Annie. I haven’t had that problem with the towel edges. I’m not sure why not. You might want to sand the lumpy parts when all the paste is dry. Joint compound by itself can crack if the item has any flexibility to it, but you can add a little white glue to the joint compound, and make a home-made gesso that will be a bit more flexible. If you get cracks as it dries, they can be repaired with another coat, or by “sanding” with a damp sponge.

    • Are you referring to the Super Sculpey that I recommend for the temporary positive mold? I guess you could. I like being able to use mine again for another project. If you do bake your Sculpey form, make sure to use a release before adding the paper mache, so you it won’t stick.

  • Hey Jonni,

    Scanning the internet looking for good tutorials on a mask idea I had, I stumbled upon your youtube videos and was wonderfully impressed! They were exactly what I was looking for and a lot less complicated then many of the heavy chemical moulds others had done. I have just a few questions about the work though.
    I wanted to make a wolf mask and was wondering if you had any tips on the muzzle area because I don’t want to include the lower jaw so as to wear and breath easy. Would this just be tin foil/super sculpey/cardboard for continued support?
    I’m also planning on having the mask cover to about mid top of the head (not quite to the crown) because I wanted to add bits of leather and beads as a sort of neck hairs/mane. Do I need to add more layers to compensate for the weight or to help secure everything? I have hot glue to work with but just making sure it’s enough.
    Last – is the Super Sculpey re-usable? It’s about $40 (not too bad I guess) but it’s going to be my first sculpted mask (no high school egypt project) so if I mess it up will I need to buy more?
    Thanks so much for reading and I hope I haven’t kept you from your fun too long. :-)

    -Sierra

  • Hi Jonni,

    I’ve tested the recipe you used for this mask, but unfortunately haven’t had much luck.
    The mix didnt apply nearly as smoothly as yours and dried very powdery. I think it might be down to the plaster of paris I’m using. Its a fine ‘casting’ plaster of paris, but I see I can also get courser powders called ‘Herculite 2′ and a harder setting version called ‘Crystacast’. Can you give me any details on the type of plaster you are using ?

    On another note, for those in the UK, Scott Shop Towels can be purchased from Halfords car accessory dealers, whose branches are a lot more common than Costco’s over here.

    Thanks.

    • Hi Jon. The plaster I used was plain old plaster of Paris, from the hardware store. I don’t know if they call it different things in different countries. Are you talking about the gesso recipe? Maybe you just need to mix the glue and water and vinegar really well before adding the plaster. If you throw them all in together at the beginning the plaster tends to clump together with the glue, and be grainy.

      • Yes, I’m talking about the gesso recipe. I did add the plaster of paris at the end. It also started to go off after about 5 mins. I’ll try again but spend longer mixing it this time.

        Thanks.

  • Hi Jonni!!

    I love all the tips and tricks you have on here. I have just one problem though, when I went to make the recipe you used for the mask, it came out rubbery. it did that with another recipe somewhere on here too.

    I did what you did in the video and it didn’t turn out like yours did. do I use less plaster maybe?
    Thank you for any advice!

    • That’s an interesting problem that I haven’t heard about before. I know that the paper mache clay recipe sometimes turns into rubber if the joint compound was made by the Dap company, because one of their ingredients reacts weirdly when mixed with the Elmers. I’ve never seen that happen when glue is mixed with plain old plaster of Paris, though. Does your mask ever harden? Are you using the blue shop towels?

      • Well, the husband said it could be the glue that i’m using too. Was just talking to him about it. All I have to work with is wood glue, not sure where to get elmers glue in the gallon size. I’m also using DAP plaster too, so kind of wondering if that’s a factor as well, since dap joint doesn’t work. I’m not 100% sure if it is one or the other or both, will have find normal elmers glue and see if its the glue.

        I’m not making a mask, was going to use it for another project and see if it works with cloth mache. Just mostly testing /playing around trying to see what I can come up with. :)
        I do plan on making masks later on, but I also have some little projects that I’ve been experimenting with to see what works and such for what I wanna do.

  • Hi,

    I am working with your Pantalone mask with students.
    They are studying Greek mythology and we are making ‘Zeus’ mask
    Thank you so much for all your helpful techniques.

    We are working with ceramic clay rather than super sculpey – do we need to put Vaseline (or something else down) before we apply plaster?

    Many thanks!

    • Hi Gia. You probably will want to put some Vaseline on your ceramic clay, if only to keep it from drying out as the plaster hardens. It’s a lot easier to get the masks off if the clay form underneath is soft.

      Good luck with your class – this sounds like a lot of fun! I hope you’ll post some photos when you’re done.

  • Hi Jonni,

    I’m a fan from Australia and I really love your work! I only recently came across this interesting technique and I want to try to make a mask or two of my own. I am not overly accomplished in this area, but I know practice makes perfect, so the only thing that bothers me is the shop towel. What is a shop towel? I have tried to find out by searching Google, but I still don’t know if it is one of those ‘super absorbent’ types of paper towel, or if it is more like a chux (thin, easily torn, synthetic material commonly used for wiping up messes) . I’m trying to find something similar to shop towel near me, but I can’t find any good explanation of what it is, can you help out?

    Again, I am a big fan & I think your work is fantastic!

    Cheers!

    • Hi Rachael. The towels are sold here in the US in the hardware department, and they’re a strong, absorbent blue paper. They aren’t woven or cloth-like (I tried some like that, and they only stretch in one direction). If you can’t find something called “shop towels,” just use the strongest paper towels you can find. You may need to use more than two layers, but that’s sometimes true with the shop towels, too – it depends on how strong you need the item to be.

      Have fun!

  • Jonni,
    I wanted to let you know that I am extremely pleased with the results I acheived by following your brilliant tutorials. As I explained in another post, I am making costumes for a production of Toy Story. I used a beach ball as the armature for the Slinky Dog head. I was so pleased at how simple it was to make the paste and how few blue towels it took to acheive a really sturdy base for this project. The piece was completely hard and dry inside and out in only one day. All of your hard work and time spent finding the perfect combination of materials has made it easy for the rest of us.

    I will post pictures when the costumes are finished.

    Since I work in a Public Library, I was wondering if you would like to have your book become part of our circulating books collection?? I belong to the Merrimack Valley Library Consortium which would mean that the book would be available to people who have cards from 35 different libraries in Northeast Massachusetts.

    Let me know so that I can ask our director of acquisitions to purchase a copy or two.

    • Hi Denise. I’m so happy that your project is coming along so well. And yes, of course it would be very nice if your library would put a copy of the book on their shelves.

  • Just got the book – and while I have yet to try anything yet (because I’m at work), the techniques in here are completely brilliant! I have tendonitis on both hands (I hope to find very soft modelling clay) and paper mache is easiest for mask-making. After much research and experimenting using types of paper/cloth mache, I’ve had some success, but not satisfaction. The techniques in this book look like they may be my holy grail (or at least a variation of them). I’m thrilled to have a three day weekend to play with this, and I will blog my mad science crafting and post here with results.

    Thanks so much for sharing this – especially from the POV of an experimenter – it makes a huge difference! –Tam

    • Hi Tam. I think the Super Sculpey is the softest clay you’ll find, and it definitely is the easiest clay to work with for the masks. You don’t bake it, so you can use it for as many different masks as you like.

      I hope you’ll post a photo when you get done playing this weekend – I’d love to see what you create.

  • Well Jonni – let me just say that I simply love the outlaw and Pantalone masks. I hope there are instructions in the book for the new recipe you used. Does your book go into the mold making for the entire process? How you use plastic to get the mask form off, etc.? My best congratulations on your new book – can’t wait to get my copy. Yours, Joanne.

    • Hi Joanne. Yes, the book goes into all those things in great detail. I didn’t have time to give all the details in the video, but there are six chapters on the process before we even get to the actual projects. And all the recipes are in the book, too.

  • Your mask came out so nice!
    I’m going to do one now that my daughter was so sweet to bring me her bucket of plaster.

    I put my Bear up on my blog (sharonsfancy) today. Amazon isn’t an affiliate of mine (I don’t know how to do that), but, with the image I made reference to your new book. Immediately I received a comment from one lady who said she was going to come over and check this out. (Surprising anyone comes by since I probably post something once every 2 or 3 months). Just want to let you know your book is generating interest! Congratulations!!

    I will also leave feedback on Amazon once I’ve read my book cover to cover.

    Can’t wait!

    Sharon

    • Thanks, Sharon. And I hope you’re back on your feet soon. It was so kind of you to make the mask for the book so soon after your surgery. (Your mask looks fabulous, by the way – go check it out, everyone!)

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