Attaching a Hat Piece to a Mask/Headdress – Guest Post

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Hello everyone, my name is Kevin Doheny and I am designing and making headpiece/masks and costumes for an upcoming school production of The Lion King, Jr.. My creations have been greatly inspired by the work of Julie Taymor and her Lion King Broadway production. I have used different materials and techniques in constructing them, including many fantastic ideas from our undisputed queen of paper mache, Jonni Good!

I often refer to my finished products as “masks” though it’s more accurate to call them headpieces or headdresses, since they are all worn on top of the head, as opposed to wearing them over the face. So in order to keep them on top of someone’s head for a performance, I needed to find a way that was easy, inexpensive, comfortable, and most importantly, secure so they will stay put!

To that end, I found what I call the baseball cap method. As you will see in my how-to video “How to Secure a Headpiece to Your Head”, I have detailed instructions on how to utilize a simple baseball cap, some nylon webbing and a plastic buckle to keep both large and small headpieces secure and in place on top of someone’s head. The method is relatively simple and you only need a few inexpensive items to do it. What’s nice about the cap method is that it’s very comfortable for the wearer and can be used for many different styles of headpieces and headdresses for theatrical costumes, dance costumes, etc..

After you’ve watched my video, be sure to check out my website at: http://www.kevinpdoheny.com/paper-mach-.html for more fun and inspirational paper mache and costuming ideas!

©2015 Kevin Doheny

6 thoughts on “Attaching a Hat Piece to a Mask/Headdress – Guest Post”

  1. I have to make 11 lion king masks and need to put in a purchase order for the supplies.
    So far I have:
    Light cardboard or cereal boxes
    Brown paper
    That wood glue
    Masking tape
    Clear tape
    Acrylic paints
    Primer spray paint in Black and Tan
    Little styrofoam balls
    Black tissue paper
    Black felt
    That glossy stuff.

    How much of each for the 11 masks? Rather have too much than not enough so I don’t have to do another purchase req

    • Hi Millie. I had to get out my calculator – I’ve never made that many masks all at once.

      • You’ll need 9 pieces of light cardboard per mask, so 100 8.5″ x 11″ sheets or 50 cereal boxes should be enough.
      • I recommend a package of full-sheet labels, too. It makes it much faster to transfer the patterns to the cardboard.
      • If you’re buying brown paper, you’ll probably need about 6 square feet per mask. I always have some around that I can recycle, so I’ve never bought brown paper. You can always use newspaper with the wood glue, and just use two layers of paper mache instead of one.
      • A 32 oz bottle of the Titebond glue should be enough.
      • 3 or 4 rolls of masking tape, and perhaps 6 rolls of clear tape. Don’t use the “invisible” tape intended for gift wrapping – it isn’t sticky enough.
      • One can of each color spray paint
      • The raffia table skirts are 24′ long. How much you need will depend on how many of your lions will have manes, and how thick you want the manes to be. 6 feet of raffia per adult male lion should be enough.
      • I don’t think you need any flour, unless you use flour and water paste instead of the wood glue.
      • 11 styrofoam balls, cut in half
      • 1 sheet of black tissue paper, if you want to use it for the eye pupils. It’s optional.
      • 4 8″ x 11″ felt, cut into 1″ strips
      • You can use a bottle of clear fingernail polish to make the eyes glossy (optional).

      I think that should do it. Have fun! 🙂

  2. Hi Jonni! I’m an elementary Art teacher in Alabama. I’ve enjoyed watching your videos! I’m one of many folks who are making Lion King masks for a school production. This my first time sculpting and reproducing masks and I’m a bit overwhelmed by the quantity that I need to make by March. I will have parent help, it’s working out the kinks so it flows when the folks arrive.
    Here’s my dilemma – I want to make a positive form and want to pull multiple masks from it… I’ve watched your and Kevin’s videos and I have some questions. This is the lioness mask that I’ve made but I think I need to detach the ears so I can pull the plaster cloth form off, right?
    I have 18 lionesses, and multiples of other African animals… I’d like to make this more of an assembly line but I’ve got to make sure I’m starting right. Can you help me out, please?


    • Hi Linda. I think you tried to show us your lioness, but the photo didn’t come through. Can you edit the image to make the file size smaller?

      If your model has undercuts, especially around the ears, the model will be damaged when you remove the dried mask unless you cut it first. You probably don’t want to do that. If you can make a model without undercuts, you should be able to pull it off undamaged. I like using soft WED clay or oil based clay because you can get away with undercuts – the mask doesn’t get trapped on the model if the clay is soft. But your model would be damaged and you’d need to re-sculpt some of the features each time you pull a mask from it.

      You guys sure are brave to take on such a huge project! Are you using plaster cloth or paper mache the masks?

  3. Hello,

    I live in Melbourne, Australia and I’m getting married in Late January 2016. My fiancé and I are having a nature themed wedding at the zoo. We are desperate to find a Simba/mufasa (the lion king) inspired head piece for my fiancé to wear at the wedding. Would you be willing (or know of anyone else who might be willing) to make it for us?

    • Hi Katie. Australia is a long ways away, but maybe you could find someone at the local university who would make you a lion head piece. They could use the techniques from my book on masks, along with Kevin’s idea about attaching the hat piece. As long as they have a bit of experience with sculpting, they should do a great job. Even better, maybe a family member would like to take on the job?


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