Paper Mache Masks

Harry Progresses – Slowly

Harry's Mask, In Progress

This week I have proven conclusively that you really can have too many projects going at once. However, I’ve still made time to work on Harry’s mask, and I’m starting to like the way it’s coming out.

Harry looks like a fellow with a great sense of humor, (but we haven’t met, so I could be wrong. He might be the quiet, studious type, in spite of appearances…)

To capture the profile, I started with a thin line of clay over the center line of the mask form that I made previously, and then superimposed a photo of the mask-in-progress over a photo of Harry. (I think “Bmaskmaker” first suggested this idea.) It was a bit tricky, because even the slightest change in the angle of the photograph can make a really big difference in the shape of the outside line. (I added a copy of the overlaid photos in the gallery below, so you can see how it was done). I have the Serif PhotoPlus program, which works pretty much the same as Photoshop. I kept changing the clay and taking photos until I was happy with the profile.

After the profile was set as close as I could get it, I started adding more clay to the mask form. The clay is still pretty rough, and I’ll be working on it for several more days before I commit to the paper mache. I’ve also sent an email to Nancy asking for her feedback, since she’s the one who knows Harry best. She provided some fantastic photos, but it still isn’t the same as knowing Harry personally.

By the way, the previous idea I had about making some teeth for him out of Super Sculpey didn’t work. Some ideas really sound good before you actually try them…

So far, this is what we have – I tried to take photos from the same angles as the photos of Harry, but they’re not quite the same. Still, I think you can get the idea. As always, suggestions are appreciated:

In case you’re curious, the ears are made with 1/4 inch Amaco WireForm Metal Mesh. I’ll be removing all the clay from the finished paper mache mask, but the wire mesh will stay inside the ears and reinforce them. In case you’ve read my book How to Make Masks! or if you’ve seen my mask-making videos, you probably noticed that I’m not using Super Sculpey as my modeling clay. I decided that the translucent Caucasian color of the Sculpey would make it too hard to see the forms in a photograph – and since this is a long-distance project and Nancy can only see the progress of the mask with photos, it seemed like a good idea to use the grey modeling clay instead. Sculpey is a lot easier to use, for a lot of reasons, but for this project I decided against it.

One real benefit of taking photos is that it gives you a chance to see a sculpture with fresh eyes. It’s much easier to notice things that aren’t quite right, but that I couldn’t see while working directly in the clay. I can now see that one of the eyes needs to be moved just ever so slightly, and the top ridge line of the muzzle needs more work. I’m sure I’ll find more things to fiddle with as I work on him some more.

16 Comments

  • I stumbled upon your website today because I want to do a paper-mache project with my kids.
    You are such a generous person, giving away your recipes, techniques, secrets. This inspires me and seems to suggest that nothing is lost by being open-handed and transparent—you aren’t going to earn less or be diminished by sharing your life’s work. THANK YOU for this spiritual lesson in flesh. 🙂

  • Great job. I thought I’d share a few comments about the profile picture. I am a novice but it looks like more brow is neadied for the right eye and more indention under the right eye. Which eye needs to be moved? Harry’s left eye appears more inwardly turned and the right eye outwardly turned.

    I am amazed with your talent and generosity. I look forward to every post and when my hand heals enough to scupt again I plan to use your ideas for Art Dolls. Thank you again for sharing. I do not mean to offend by my observations. The observations are probably wrong but you asked for feedback. Thanks for being open for feedback.
    Chawol

    • Thanks Shannon. Feedback is always welcome. I actually messed around with Harry so much this week that I ended up removing most of the clay and starting over. Remember the old joke about trying to level a three-legged stool by removing just a bit from one leg – then a bit from another leg, etc, until you end up with no legs at all? In this case, Harry’s nose kept getting longer, then the back of his head had to be longer… Anyway, I started over. I’m now using three different colors of clay, so photos will make no sense whatsoever – I think the next view will be after the paper mache goes on. Wish me luck!

  • Jonni, I love your WIP. Harry is going to be absolutely beautiful. Let me get this straight, you’re sculpting in clay, then are you going to cover the clay with paper mache and then remove the clay? Or maybe, make a mold?

      • I just watched your three videos, Jonni. Very nicely done. I love the way your Pantalone mask turned out, and I especially loved the wolf and outlaw masks at the end of the third video. Especially the wolf! LOL, how funny that the outlaw mask is wearing a mask.
        And, thank you for dropping by my blog! I’m glad you liked Pinocchio. I am entering him in an upcoming Art Doll Quarterly challenge. I don’t know if he’ll get in the magazine, however, three of my dolls will be in the Fall issue.
        If I’d never come across your Ultimate Paper Mache site, I’d never have gotten so carried away with Art Dolls. Thank you!!

        • You’re welcome! Good luck with the challenge, and congratulations for already having three dolls featured in the magazine. That’s quite an accomplishment.

  • I am enjoying your sharing of the proces of Harry’s mask making
    He looks so sweet and you have done a great job again

    I know the feeling of to manny projects 😉
    We have the european footbal coming up and so I am making lion mask with the kids
    ( Orange lion is out Dutch mascot) whole streets are orange overhere crazzy….
    I am also refurbishing my 6 original fifties chairs and sewing things for a chior group and curtains for my daughter …so my house is messy…

    • Yes, the mess – I moved my studio out of the house and onto the back deck, and started to paint my living room. Then the weather turned and started to rain, lots of wind, very cold – so all my projects ended back in the house. It seems kind of overwhelming at times. But progress is being made….

      I hope your team wins.

  • I have been trying to delete/inactivate my subscription. I have done what you said to go to the managing subscription page and 3 months later after doing it several times am still getting email posts. Could you please do it for me as I am getting very frustrated.

    • I deleted the subscription for comments, so you should not receive any more of those emails. If you also signed up for the newsletter posts and wish to have that subscription cancelled, please let me know and I’ll take care of it for you.

  • Harry is looking good – I know what you mean by needing to fiddle with him – I could probably fiddle indefinitely, but eventually you have to stop trying for perfect!! I love his Roman nose! I can’t wait to see him finished!

  • The model is looking very impressive so far. Taking the front profile photograph is a good idea I shall use this too. Like you said, it makes any small defects more obvious – more quickly. As I discovered, picking up on things like unaligned eyes/ears when you think you’ve nearly finished is..well…. bl***dy %^&*()&%$* – isn’t it! 🙂 I’m eagerly looking forward to keeping up with Harry’s progess.

    Still have not discovered how to compress my photos enough to send. Now made two masks. As ‘practice’ runs really. My latest batch of Jonniclay went brilliant. I was able to treat it like bread dough. Right down to covering a chunk with cling-film and rolling it out to about quarter of an inch thick (knew my rolling pin would come in handy one day 🙂 It was much easier to layer it inside my mask moulds then.

    It dried out like old-fashioned type think cardboard. Once gessoed and painted they became light but robust and would easily stand up to being pulled on and off someone’s face.

    Now I’m starting on the competition entry mask. I’ve learned such a lot from doing the other two that I’m hoping this one will go smoothly and will hopefully be finished by this weekend.

    Thanks Jonni, couldn’t have done it without you.

    Anne (UK)

    Looking forward to viewing the proce

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