Fabulous Paper Mache Masks

Since October is settling in quite nicely, with leaves beginning to turn and the pumpkins ready to harvest, I thought you might like to check out some wonderful paper mache masks I found this morning. Some of the websites listed below are in languages other than English, but don’t let that stop you from clicking through the pages and discovering what these remarkable mask-makers have created.

Scary Paper Mache Masks

Scary Paper Mache Masks
Nighmare Before Fasnacht Masks

Horrorwaeber’s Masks – Once you get past the incredibly creepy flash intro, and click on a few of the buttons, you see the amazing paper mache masks. There is an English translation, if you can find the button. Since it’s a Flash site, I couldn’t link directly to the Halloween masks, but I know you’ll figure it out. For those who love the gruesome, this site is quite inspiring.

Maskmaking Studio

Paper Mache Masks
 Masks from Shadow Mask Workshops

Shadow Mask Workshops – According to the website:

Shadow Mask Projects [are] conducted with middle school students [and] produce intensely evocative and moving designs. These projects integrate Arts and English curriculum as the students explore themselves, their shadow and creativity. This is done through the visual medium of the mask itself as well as an in depth written analysis. It is a powerful process which grounds the students in themselves and their art at a crucial time in adolescence.

You can see masks created by the teacher, Pamela Schuller, here. The masks shown above were made using “stone mask technique. ” Pamela sent an email explaining the technique:

A stone is used as the base and source of inspiration , a face is sculpted on the stone using clean clay, then the stone is lightly oiled and 5 layers of paper mache are applied. After drying the the mask is removed from the stone and painted with acrylics.

The masks shown in the photo above were made by adults. [post edited 3/18/2011]

More Creepy Paper Mache Masks

Creepy Paper Mache Masks
Herzlich Willkommen's Paper Mache Masks

Bionda Masken – Fasnacht masks. I did a fast Google search, and it looks like Fasnacht is a carnival held every year in Basel, Switzerland. It’s not held in October, as the masks might suggest to those of us in the US, but in the week after Ash Wednesday, in February or March. If I got that wrong, I’m sure someone will let us know.

Theater Masks

Paper Mache Theater Masks
Paper Mache Theater Masks

Thingumajig Theatre – This is the site that got me started on my web search this morning. Andrew Kim’s masks were mentioned on a Yahoo paper mache list, and I had to go see what he and his friends were up to. When I saw that hippo, I naturally fell in love. Some people really know how to create exciting, fun-filled jobs for themselves, don’t they?

More Paper Mache Masks Worth Seeing:

I found more sites, but I won’t put photos of all of them here on this post. Just click on the links below and go check them out yourself. Get inspired, make some masks!

  • PaperTrain – They have classes, but dang – they’re in Italy.
  • Masque Arrayed – Click around the site to see the animal masks, too.
  • Mask Gallery – Masks by Terrell Dunn, a graphic artist. Every mask is handmade, and they’re quite incredible. They’re for sale, and they don’t seem to be very expensive, considering the time that must go into them.
  • Atolye Curcunabaz – Lifelike faces and traditional Venetian carnival paper mache masks.

11 thoughts on “Fabulous Paper Mache Masks”

  1. Hi Jonni. Just to add, your orangutang mask seems to be 3 layers of paper thick, and you seemed to have added gesso after removing it from the armature, so it seems to be a similar situation. Did that soften at all when you added the gesso?

  2. Hi. Help needed!!! Love the masks. I’ve had a go at making one myself over a clay sculpture covered in plastic wrap. I used the newspaper and flour mix to try it out. I applied about four layers of paper. When dry, the mache was fantastic and really hard. I wanted a smooth finish, and I saw somewhere on the site a suggestion of coating the surface with a mixture of joint compound, pva and white acrylic. I did this and it was looking good. After a couple of minutes the mache started to go a bit soggy and curl up and all my hard work was dissolving away! Should I have coated the mache in PVA first to seal it? Any advice as to what I’ve done wrong?

    • Hi Davey. I think the problem is that I always used the joint compound-glue gesso over a sculpture that had an armature inside. I’ve never tried it on a thin paper mache layer that has nothing behind it to help keep the shape. Can you put the paper mache back over the original clay model, and let it dry?

      • Hi Jonni. Thanks so much for getting back so quickly. I’m devastated as my first ever mask was looking so good! I did put it back on the clay a couple of hours ago as I noticed it warping and it’s helped but the sides have still curled up from the board. The moisture must have absorbed into the mache and warped it.

        I wonder if it would have curled up anyway around the base of the mask if I’d left it on the clay as there’s nothing to stop it lifting, as it where. Do you think a coat of PVA would prevent it re-absorbing water if I were to do the same process again?

        Another question is, is your clay recipe when hard more resistant to absorbing the compound gesso and warping as I could try that over the clay?

        Also I notice you often build your sculptures in layers. If you do, say, five layers of the newspaper and let dry, then add say another five layers to thicken the sculpture, do the first layers go plastic again as they absorb the new moisture (and is it the same for the clay recipe)?

        Thanks you so much for all your advice and sorry to be pesky!

        • Hi Davey. Yes, when you add new paper mache to dried paper mache, the water in the paste will soften the layers underneath. The dried clay does not soften when a thin layer of home-made gesso is added to it, I just checked the orangutan mask (got her down off the wall) and she’s quite a bit more than 3 layers thick. I may have added more layers during the process that I didn’t mention in the tutorial.

  3. Hi Jonni,
    The jack o lantern is 7″inches high, not including the handle. I made the handle from a wire hanger and used a demel to cut the eyes and mouth, then used brown paper–can also use a paper grocery bag for the inserts. The original paper mache ones cost way too much and this is a fun alternative! Lori

  4. Hi Jonni,
    I am dropping you a quick email to thank you for posting your recipe for the paper mache clay. It works very well. I just started working with paper mache, and I tried the traditional before, but your recipe is very strong. I made up a antique style jack o lantern with the traditional balloon, and a antique style doll candy container–I used a antique doll head, and tubing, with your paste, and she came out pretty good for a first time. They used to make candy containers like this in Germany at the turn of the century. Thanks again, Lori –I will send you a couple pics!

    Paper Mache Pumpkin Candy Holder

    • Hi Lori. You really caught a nice expression on your jack o lantern. How big is he? It looks tiny next to the doll. I can imagine the paper mache jack o lanterns making nice party favors if they’re small enough to hold just a few treats.


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