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Make a Paper Mache Hyena Mask

Hyena Mask, Half-way DoneWhen a reader asked me to help her make a Hyena Mask, and I thought it sounded like a really fun project.

The Hyena Mask starts with a pattern that is cut out of cardboard. Then the cardboard is bent and taped into the basic shape of the hyena’s head, and aluminum foil is added to round out the form and make it look more realistic. This took me about two hours from start to finish.

I didn’t make this mask the way I normally do, just because I thought it would be fun to design a pattern. It turned out to be quite a challenge! You would not believe the number of times I cut out pieces of cardboard and then had to go back to the drawing board because the cardboard pieces wouldn’t fold up the way I wanted them too. It’s a good thing the worms in my garden like cardboard!


Download the pattern now for just $2.99:

Check out safely with PayPal. Use the pattern along with the video on this page to make your own Hyena mask.


Once the pattern was done, the rest of the project only took about two hours. Adding the paper mache should also go pretty fast.

In the next video I’ll show how the paper mache is added, and how to paint the mask once the paper mache is dry.

I looked at photos online to see what real hyena faces look like, and made a drawing that showed the main points that I thought were important. Then I added the dark upper eyelids because the hyenas in the Lion King movie had them (real hyenas don’t) and I thought they looked nice. No teeth are showing because this guy is going to be hanging on my wall, and a “laughing” hyena looks too scary for me. (I don’t read scary novels, either.) If you want your mask to show the trademark grin, and if you figure out how to do it, I hope you’ll post some images and instructions here on the blog to help out other readers.

Click here to see how I painted my Hyena mask.

 

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49 Comments

  • Jonni
    your website is invaluable for a novice like me. My wife and I are having a “beautiful creatures” joint 40th birthday. I am hoping to do justice to your Hyena mask ! Thank you so much for the tutorials.

    have you ever done a lion (another poster asked this as well I think) or a fox?

    many thanks once again

    Simon

    • Hi Simon. It sounds like you have a fun birthday planned. I don’t have a lion mask pattern, although I should – since so many people have asked for one. It won’t happen before your birthday, though. You might do what I did to make the hyena mask – cut out the pattern, see where it needs to change to make it more lion-like, and cut out a new one. Repeat with more scrap cardboard until you get it to look the way you want it to. I went through a lot of old boxes to get the hyena mask, but you have the hyena to start with. Make the muzzle shorter, rounder ears, etc. You can do it!

  • Hi Jonni! Thank you so much for this fabulous pattern and tutorial. I feel like I can make these masks in my sleep now. I made TWENTY of them for our elementary school’s 5th grade production of the lion king. I modified them a bit – made the ears more simple and out of cardboard for all but the three main hyenas that had lines and made all of them less realistic, more mean and cartoony so they could be seen from the stage. Here are some of the generic hyenas dancing and taking a bow at curtain call. Shhh…don’t tell the directors, but I also shrunk down your pattern and made teeny tiny versions and put them in a little collectible baseball shadowbox and am presenting them later this week. (So small you can fit them in your hand – a fun challenge!) I’ll comment with a pic of them later. I’ve never paper mached before, but now I want to make everything out of it – so much fun! The entire school was raving about them – thank you so much!

    • Congratulations, Shannon! What a courageous person you are, to take on such a huge challenge. The masks are great, and the kids are obviously having so much fun! I can see why everyone is so proud of them.

  • Hi Jonni, I am going to try my best at the hyena mask you made for masks to be worn at our middle schools production of Lion King Jr. I was hoping to find a printable template for a lion and lioness.You have one could you lease send me a link.

      • The production is on November 20, 2015. I went to craft store to pick up some of the supplies I did not have at home,but like you said in the video I have most every thing laying around the house.My helper and I will be cutting out the cardboard tonight. I did find a plastic lion mask that I picked up ,so maybe I could use this as a guide. I also picked up some books at the local library to look through.

  • Hi Jonni, wow that is some cool work. I wouldnt consider myself a great artist, however i will try to get some results done according to your instructions. With the help of your videos i think everyone can produce great things. I watched many of your videos and i would love to do a mask similar to your hyena mask.

    I would like to make a fox kind of look with a similar head, just a less flat/broad and more narrow head, and a longer broader muzzle. However i find it hard to make the two dimensional design of the different shapes. Do you have any hints on how you would do those? Is there any help on how to create those shapes online?

    Love your work! Benny
    Thank you so much i would be really happy for some ideas!
    Best wishes

    • Hi Benny – it’s funny you should ask for hints on making the shapes, because I did it the hard way. I cut out some cardboard and bent it the way I thought I should, looked at what I ended up with, threw it away, and did it again. I went through quite a bit of cardboard before I was able to make the pattern I used in this post. It’s actually way easier, if you’re starting from scratch, to make your mask over a positive mold that you’ve sculpted out of clay. Some people have made some beautiful hyena masks using the pattern on this page, but so far I haven’t seen anyone making a new pattern, probably because it isn’t quite as easy as it looks. Be sure to see all the videos about the Commedia del Arte Mask on this page before you begin, and you can decide which way would be easier for you.

      • Hi Jonni – thank you so much for your tipps and advice. I looked into the videos and kept on searching until I found something slightly different, that really got me interested. I made my base form in a completely different way now, and I think it is very cool. Have a look at this blog post if your curious about what I’ve done: http://www.instructables.com/id/Create-faceted-paper-objects/. Now I have one question that remains and I would like to bother you with it. My base structure of my animal head is finished. As you can see from the post it is not a fox but a deer. The structure is made of 160g paper and is fairly stable. But I am worried, that if I make a mistake with the papermache mixture, the structure could become too wet and start softening up. Resulting in my deer loosing its shape and structure.

        How would you cover it in Papermache? Which recipe for the mixture would you recommend? Making a paste or rather the classical way with the longer bits of paper? I really don’t want to destroy what I’ve done so far so I was hoping to be able to ask for your opinion…

        Thanks a lot! Benny

        • Wow- that’s really a cool deer. And thanks for the link to the instructions! But now I’m quite nervous, because I’d hate to give you advice that might damage the deer. Back when I made my dragon I used some poster board for the neck and ears, and it did absorb too much moisture from the paper mache. If I did it again with such light stock I would seal the paper before adding any paper mache to it. My recommendation would be to create a test piece that’s build with the same materials as your deer and in the same way, but without spending too much time on it. Then spray it with a good spray primer or varnish, allow it to dry, and apply your paper mache. Your idea of using large pieces of paper and paste should work well with those shapes. Allow your paper mache’d piece to dry, and check to see if you get any warping or distortion in the shapes. I would start with just one layer of paper strips first, just to keep from weighing the paper down with all the water. And keep the paste to a minimum, using only as much as you need to make sure the paper strips will stay where they belong.

          Good luck with it – and be sure to let us know how your experiments turn out!

  • Hi Jonni,
    Thanks for the great DIY videos, and especially the paper mache clay recipe. I have never used paper mache before but got interested in it after photographing a musical event recently where one of the performers’ day job was using paper mache to develop film industry characters. Here is a photo of my project. People say it looks more like a rat than a hyena. I think it evolved (or devolved) from your design. Looking forward to that outdoor, concrete material. Thanks again.
    Peter

  • Hello! I have been busy making a ton of paper mache oddities and need a little help. A few family members have asked for faux taxidermy, like a deer head & a my little pony (strange family). After looking around on the net, I see some ideas but not very good directions. Can you give me some ideas on how to lay out the pattern and armature? I have both of your books sculptures and the masks, but I cannot seem to get correct proportions or angles. Thanks for any help!

    Ps. I have tried posting pics with no luck at any size. I am going to finish painting this current batch and email them to you so at least you can see and offer improvements. Thanks again!

    • Hi Brooke. I don’t think I’ve made any trophies, just masks. I make my patterns by finding good photos of the animal from the side, and then use the outline for the cardboard pattern that I put inside. But then you need to look at the head from all other angles, too. Just having the outline right does make a huge difference, though, because it gives you a good place to start, and getting the rest of the proportions then seems to be easier.

      Someone else was having problems to day posting photos, but several other people were able to get it to work. I’m not sure why we’re still having intermittent problems with the plugin, but I’ll do some more testing.

      • I figure out the photo problem was more on my end than yours! Lol but I found a card board pattern for a deer head on google and then added paper and masking tape like any other armature. I think it turned out ok?

          • When I cut out the pattern (which I can email or upload if anyone wants to try it) I cut the antlers out of cardboard as well, then added strength with baling wire after that I added aluminum foil until they looked good and covered them with masking tape. Baling wire can be used to tie your muffler to your car when it starts to come down and is great for adding strength to paper mache sculptures. I did have to cut off 2 of the card board points and reposition them for a more natural look but over all they seemed to work well.

            using the baling wire inside of clay may work for Gina’s question on how to make mini antlers stronger. By putting a thin “coat” of clay over the wire she may get the strength she needs. It’s worth a shot. Baling wire can be found at menards, Lowes, or any hardware store in the same area as the joint compound and concrete materials.

            Sorry you had to see my messy work station, but when I try to clean and organize it I lose everything for days and have finally learn to leave it alone!

            • Hi Brooke. Did you say you found the pattern online? If so, could you give us the link so we could go to the original website and find it there? That would be easiest.

              And I totally understand your frustration after cleaning up your workspace – I suspect that we all put things “in a better spot” and then hunt for it for hours. Neatness is over-rated. 🙂

  • Is it possible to make miniature antlers to use in poseable dolls and sculpture that are not as fragile as clay? I tried to find a supplier but unless you buy like a 1000 they won’t work with you. It seems you can make anything Jonni and it looks realistic

    I can’t always see a way to start a project like that and make it look appropriate

    • Gina, you might want to look into the two-part epoxy clays, which could be pressed around a support wire. I can’t tell you how to actually attach the antlers to your dolls, but there should be a way to do it that supports the fragile connection between the head and the antler. If you try it, please let us know if it works – and we’d also love to see some of your dolls and sculptures, too!

  • Hi Jonni, I am amazed at the detail you can get with just foil and tape…..a new idea in sculpting….I was so impressed that I put this video on family’s face book for my 5 sisters to see . They can all do art or love art….my brothers love art, but they are musicians, but their children will love your work….my granddaughter loves art and animals and will probably subscribe after I posted your video on her Face Book. I love the definition you get on your hyena’s eyes, and am anxious to find out if it will work as well on the human face. thanks for sharing !

  • Thanks Jonni for all your great instructions. I was inspired by your dragon. I like that you showed that all does not always go the way you expect it to. But you find a way to make it turn out great! I learned a lot but I had to try it. Here is my dragon. I am still learning, but I think he turned out kind of nice. I wanted him to have a dull finish but have the finish sealed. I used Americana Decor Ultra Matte Varnish ( I found it at Michael’s with the chalk paint things. It has no sheen to it after it dries. I like it. I wanted the eyes to stand out. They are varnished several times with gloss ( another Jonni tip). Thanks again Jonni.

    • Hi Robyn. You made a great dragon – he has loads of personality, and he’s patriotic, too! I’m rather impressed with the fingers. Long, thin areas like that always give me trouble, but you managed them quite well.

      Thanks for the tip about that varnish. I’ll see if I can order some. We don’t have a Michael’s here in town, but maybe they ship.

  • Dear Jonni,
    I apologize it took so long for me to try to upload again the picture of the balloons the kids made, it’s been busy here in “crazy town”, never a dull moment, love every second of it.
    Love the video, you are eloquent a easy to listen plus your directions are easy to follow. Please don’t change a second of it.
    Thank you for sharing,
    Gina

  • Hi Jonni.
    Great video! I also prefer to see the video through the whole initial process. Ver nicely done. You certainly have more patience than I do to have used cardboard. Love that pattern, as it can be reused for other animal faces. Looking forward to the next stage of it.
    Regards to one and all.

  • I’ve watched videos of you using tin foil before, but for some reason it didn’t click that it was a great substitute for areas that I would use for wire until this video! (I often don’t have a piece of wire that’s the right gauge for a certain spot.) Also loved the techniques for muzzle and eyes – because I can see tons of ways I can use variations that design. Also I didn’t mind the length of the video either – especially the details of the features, oh and definitely the brace to keep it from warping. (I’ve had loads of problems with things I want to stay flat warping no matter how much I try and weigh it down. I think it’s the result of rushing too many layers at once, but I’ll send a specific example if/when it happens again.)

    Just curious – have you ever tried using the extra thick/heavy duty tin foil? I can remember using it for outdoor grilling, though it never occurred to me to snag some for paper mache until now – just wondered if it’s very different or if it’s the same as just doubling regular foil. I’m also going to see if there’s any foil at my local dollar stores, because I have the feeling I’m suddenly going to be using a LOT more foil!

    • Hi K.L. I buy the big roll of cheap foil at Walmart because – well, because it’s cheap. I haven’t tried the heavy-duty sort, but it might offer more support for really big sculptures. I’m going to try using foil under thin coats of concrete, like they do on the Pal Tiya site, and the heavier foil might be a good choice for that kind of project. But for my paper mache items, the cheap kind seems to work just fine.

      • I can not wait til Pal Tiya is importable to the US – I was watching their video today and figured out why Kim Beaton was a familiar name – she used to blog about her paper mache sculpture projects back when she was doing a large project for a mermaid and then a tree troll (the second one was finished). So it completely makes sense that she’d be someone that would be on the team to come up with that type of project. Meanwhile I can’t wait til you do get some so I can look forward to a video full of tips!

        Totally agree on the cheap foil – Walmart is next on my list if they don’t have some kind of off brand at the dollar store. I’m not going to touch what’s in the kitchen – well, mainly because it’s currently mom’s kitchen and never mind that I’m in my 40s, she will not look kindly on me sneaking off with all her foil!

          • How interesting! So Kim started out using the aluminum foil when working with paper mache. Now that she’s concentrating on outside garden art, she’s still using the foil, but with what looks like a cement-based product. And, what’s even more interesting, is that it seems to work! Most people using cement for sculptures spend days building complicated armatures out of rebar and chicken wire. She avoids all that, and uses a fiber-reinforced cement over foil. What a wonderful idea.

  • I made three masks and you can’t believe how difficult I made it for myself – your video as well as your instructions are priceless. If you think your video is long, you should have watched me in action. Just wanted to say a big THANK YOU for sharing all of your talent – now I’ll have to try it again – but this time doing it the right way.

  • It is amazing what you can make with cardboard, tape and aluminum foil.

    A lesson has to be as long as it needs to be to get the idea across.
    The longer video is necessary to enable the whole process to be shown. The only time a video needs to be condensed is when you are watching someone do the same thing for a long period. You never do that in your videos.

  • Great video Jonni. The sculpting techniques will also be useful for other projects. Thoroughly enjoyed it. I think I will be making my first mask soon. Thanks for the pattern.

    • Thanks, Karen. Does that mean you actually made it though this video, all the way to the end? I was embarrassed by how long it is for what is, essentially, a fairly easy project, but I couldn’t figure out how to make it shorter. 😉

      • I prefer the longer videos (for some instructors). It gives my brain time to ‘percolate’ and then comprehension, ideas and excitement soon bubble to the surface. I could listen to you for hours 🙂 !

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