How to Make a Pantalone Mask, Part 2

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This is the second of three mask-making videos. In this series I’m making a traditional Pantalone mask using the same methods and materials that I used for the masks in my latest book, How to Make Masks! If you didn’t see the first video, you can find it here. We made the positive mold in the first video, and in this one I’ll show you how I add the two layers of paper mache. In the next video I’ll show you how I make the mask all nice and smooth with some home-made gesso, and paint it – just in time for Mardi Gras.

Just before we get to the video, though, I thought I’d ask if anyone out there happens to live anywhere near Brookings South Dakota? Odd question, I know – but Jessie will be moving there in a few weeks. Any advice for her?

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 3.

61 thoughts on “How to Make a Pantalone Mask, Part 2”

    • Hi Erika. Days isn’t very long, but if you get it done this afternoon and set in front of a fan, you might make it. I suggest using my paper mache clay recipe to cover the cardboard, or plain newspaper strips and paste. The paper pulp they’re using isn’t all that easy to use. Whatever you do, make very thin layers so it can dry really fast – you’re pushing the bounds of possibility by trying to get it done so fast.

  1. I’ve been following your web site for several months. Loving it! Now I have the opportunity to make paper mache animals for VBS. I’m making a coral reef and have begun with brain coral, sponge coral, a moon glowing coconut octopus and something that resembles a large potted plant (name unknown). but I am confused. Which recipe do I use for what project? So far I’ve made everything with newspaper covered with masking tape and finished with the simple paper mache glue, but I want to make a sea turtle, dolphin and octopus. What kind of “skin” do you think would work best? I am on a tight schedule because I working by myself—I want to create a large reef and I have about 36 feet of background to complete by the last week in July. Can I save time by using one method over the other the other? Also, can I use stucco finishing to texturize some of the coral? I am loving this work–I have a little practice using super sculpey to make Santa figures. This saves a lot of money.

    • The fastest way to cover your armatures is to use my paper mache clay recipe. You only need one coat, less than 1/4″, and you apply it with a knife. There’s a slight texture, which will work well with most of your coral. You can smooth it for your dolphin and octopus by wetting the knife with a mixture of water and glue, which allows the knife to slide over the wet pm clay.

      And yes, you can use the stucco finishing to texturize your coral. You could also thin some joint compound, just a little, with some white glue, and throw it onto the coral pieces with a stiff brush.

      This sounds like a great project. I hope you’ll show us how the pieces come out when they’re done.

  2. Hello Joni,

    Love your videos they are very clear and easy to follow.
    I am trying to make a mask using the method in the above video. I was wondering if I can use the raw flour and water paste instead of this glue and plaster? Will the paper mache not come off the mold as easily with the flour and water recipe? Will I not be able to sand the paper mache down to smooth it out? Also, can I use the flour and water recipe with the shop towel? Any help you can provide would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Melissa. I did try using the flour and water paste once with the shop towels, and I think it worked. Do a small trial and see if it dries as hard as you would like it to. The shop towels are really absorbent, so they soak up the water in the paste really fast. You may need to use more paste than you’re used to. You can also use newspaper and paste over the clay form, it just needs more layers to be strong enough.

      You can sand the shop towels and paste if you use enough paste to fill in the pores of the towels. That isn’t easy. I think if I did this with paste and I needed a really smooth surface, I’d go with the newspaper.

      If you use unbaked Sculpey and use a thin layer of petroleum jelly over it, any type of paper mache should come off the form.

      • Thank you so much for your quick reply!!! As a chronic procrastinator I gave myself only two days to make the cosplay mask for this weekend. I end up using the glue/plaster fast setting paste instead. I am current waiting for my mask to dry after the second layer of mache, but my mask has patches of blue shop towel showing where yours is completely white. Is that bad? Also can I use hair dryer to speed up the dry time?

        • Oops – this answer is probably way too late, because I moved to a new house this weekend and just now got my Internet connection back. As for the blue showing through, I like to saturate the towels with more paste on top, but I’m not sure you really have to. And yes, you can use the hair dryer.

          Did you get the mask done in time? How did it come out?

  3. Hi Jonni,
    I am hoping to make a bunch of masks for an upcoming theatre production (and I’m loving your masks book). I wanted to clarify about Plaster of Paris–you specify on your website that when making your paper mache clay you should NOT use the DAP brand of joint compound. Does that go for Plaster of Paris as well? Just about the only brand of Plaster of Paris that I can find is DAP but I haven’t been sure if it is okay to use it. Can you use DAP Plaster of Paris, or does it need to be a different brand?

    • Yes, you can use the plaster of Paris regardless of the brand. The Dap joint compound doesn’t work because of the formula. But plaster of Paris isn’t anything except plaster, so it will work just fine.

      Be sure to let us see your masks when they’re done!

  4. Hi Jonni, for my architecture project, I need to create a paper mache sphere using a pilates ball as the mold. However there are many different methods shown in videos. I was searching for a practical, cheap method and I’ve seen your “pantalone mask” videos. Is it possible for me to use the methods you’ve used in those videos to create my paper mache sphere? Thank you.

    • I can’t see why not. Because of the weight of the ball, you might need to use a few more layers of the shop towels and paste. If you don’t need to remove the ball right away, you can use a paste made with glue and joint compound (from the paint department). That would give you a lot more time to work on your big sphere without having to worry about the paste getting hard in the bowl. It seems to get just as hard once it dries.

      • Ok. Could you suggest me another option to use as a mold (instead of the pilates ball)? Pilates ball will be hard to work on and it won’t easily come off when everything is finished (because it is quite heavy as you said). Thank you so much.

        • The paper mache should come off of the Pilates ball OK, if you leave a spot open over the air inlet, and let the air out once the paper mache is completely dry. It’s hard to get something completely round like that, but you could try chicken wire.

  5. Hi Jonni
    My masks are complete and as you requested I have posted an image. They form the front and the back of a “tragi-comedy” mask. Not up to the artistic merits of most of your contributors, but these show what can be achieved by someone with no artistic experience or flare – I have an office job and this is one of the few crafty projects I have ever attempted.
    If anyone has read the problems on my first attempt, this second time I tried a number of changes – a different base plastic, spreading the paste thicker over the plastic, using slightly drier paper, stretching the paper more, and leaving to set in a warmer room. Something worked as I had no problem this time.

  6. Hi Jonni
    First, I think you book is fantastic – well written, easy to read, detailed yet simple – the perfect mask making book – and I have said so on Amazon.
    I have a couple of questions:
    1. I have made a first attempt at a couple of masks. They look good, but have not hardened. After a couple of days they are still bendy and could not be used. Any ideas what I have probably done wrong? Do you think there might be a way to save them? I thought I had followed all the instructions in your book and video – correct mixture strength (which certainly hardened well in the bucket) and two layers of shop towels. The first layer of plaster on the plastic did not sit on the plastic well and so maybe was not thick enough, or maybe the towels were too wet. Any thoughts are very welcome.
    2. Once I get to a successful mask, I hope to attach a cotton sheet to go over the back of my head. Do you have any suggested attachment techniques? I was wondering about adhesive hook and loop fastener such as Velcro or hot glue. Do you know what might work well?
    Many many thanks

    • Thanks James. I do love it when people say nice things about my books on amazon.com. :)

      As for the masks, it sounds like they aren’t dry yet, or they may need one more layer of paper mache. I haven’t run into this problem myself, but I do put them in front of a fan, or in the winter they sit over a heating vent so the furnace can dry them quickly.

      The hot glue will probably work to attach your cotton sheet. The velcro will work, too, if it’s glued on well. You might need epoxy glue to get the velcro to stick to the paper mache, but I’m not sure since I’ve never tried it.

      I do hope you’ll post photos of your masks when they’re done!

      • Thanks, Jonni, what a super quick and helpful response. I will try your suggestions and hopefully post pictures (although I am a little embarrassed as they are not quite to the artistic quality of your other contributors). I have watched your video again and maybe I was not pasting the plaster thick enough and the towels were too wet. I shall persevere and see what works.

  7. Hi! I am working on a Halloween costume project that I’m hoping paper mache will be the answer to all my dilemmas :) I love all of your great creations and tutorials! It has given me a lot of ideas. I have a couple of questions though. Is baking the paper mache that has plaster in it required? The piece I will be making will be slightly to large to fit in the oven. Also, can you use play dough instead of clay if I covered the play dough in plastic? my son has tubs of play dough and I’d like to avoid having to buy so much clay if at all possible. Thank you for your knowledge and inspiration!

  8. hey Jonni, i really love your videos and your skill is amazing, i ordered your masks book the other day should arrive any minute.

    I couldnt wait so i got together all the ingredients and had a go at making a mask but im not sure if im getting the technique right as my surface is hardly smooth at all, is that normal after the initial paper mache?

    i wet the shop towels, wring them out, then i brush the paste over the area im working on, lay a towel on top of the paste then smooth and stretch it out, once im happy i then coat that with more paste and then another towel, smooth and stretch that one out and then another layer of paste and leave to dry

    thank you for any help

    • Yes, Mark – that’s how I do it. In fact, I’m getting ready to make a new series of masks, and I hope to have a few of them done in the next couple of days. When the final layer of paste is going on, you can smooth it out a bit more with the flat side of a damp knife. When your mask is dry and hard, you can smooth the surface some more with some fine sandpaper, and you can use the home-made gesso, as well. I do hope you’ll let us see your mask when it’s done!

      • Ahhh so I am doing it correctly. I am planning on making sugar skull masks for my upcoming day of the dead themed wedding. I just was sure as after the first two layers and final layer of paste have dried it is quite an uneven surface. Is that normal?

        Thank you for the reply. I can’t wait to see the new masks. Are there going to be accompanying videos for the new masks?

        • I thought about your question while I worked on my own mask. Without seeing exactly what you mean, I’m not sure I can say if what you’re seeing is ‘normal’ or not. Did you have lumps in the paste? Sometimes the plaster takes a while to get it mixed up smoothly. And did you tear off all the cut edges of your paper towels so the edges would melt together?

          My witch mask is drying now, so a new video should be up in a couple of days.

  9. Years ago a fellow made a paper mache Cinderella carriage out of paper mache. It was an art car of sorts. He introduced it as a float in a parade, but ended up using it as his family car for several years. It was laid up with a wood frame over a cut down car body. Chicken wire was used with paper mache over it and the medalions ribbons and decorations were formed from paper mache. Dad said he just used aluminum roof paint to water proof it. I do remember it but it was fifty years ago. It was all smooth and shiney.

    Forward fifty years. I am trying to streamline my motor scooter.
    I have formed a shape from aluminum lath. First I layed up a skin with boiled wheat paste and newspaper. I was a mess, the paper cracked when it dried. without painting over it I drove it for a few miles and parts started flying off.

    Next round. I thinned down school glue, clear PVA, 6 water to one glue. This would spray out of a windex bottle. Next I unrolled toilet tissue, squirted it with the glue/water solution. This clung to the lath mesh. The process went quite quick and with very little mess. Once a piece of tissue was started the dry tissue would adhere and the tissue was squirted into the mesh.

    Now for the next question. Would you try laying up paper towels the same way, or would you brush on a paste?

    Would you use cellulose insulation to make a clay?

    Should I try laying fabric over it?

    I am told to brake down and just make a plaster mold and fiber glass it.

    Well that is where I’m at. I’ll send pictures if you reply.


    • What a fun project! As for the cellulose insulation, I know it won’t work with the paper mache clay recipe on this site (something in the insulation, probably boron, causes the mixture to turn into little rubber balls). But you could mix the ground-up paper with glue or paste to make a paper mache pulp. For the strength you need, you might want to use Dan Reeder’s idea of dipping old bed sheets in diluted white glue, or dip burlap into monster mud (5 gallons of joint compound mixed with one gallon of latex paint). The fabric would add some needed strength to your vehicle. Is it going to be a carriage, like the one you remembered from all those years ago?

  10. Jonni
    Thanks for this great tutorial, it has helped me a lot with my own paper projects. I have started using the shop towl as a material. The towl I have is a two ply towl. I was wondering, do you seperate the two plies, if you do, when you say two layers do you mean two of the plies, therefore one sheet of the towl makes two layers. At the moment I don’t seperate the plies am I doing it wrong?

    Thanks Adam

    • Hi Adam. I’ve never used a shop towel that has two plies. If the paste soaks all the way through and the two layers don’t come apart after they’ve been applied to the armature, it should work just fine. When I’ve used two-ply kitchen towels with flour and water paste, I always have to separate the plies because the paste doesn’t go all the way through, and the pieces de-laminate. Do a test on something that isn’t important, and see which way is stronger, using your towels both with single and double ply. It’s really the only way to find out for sure. And then be sure to let us know what you discover, and what brand of shop towels you used for your experiment. ;)

      • Hi Jonni

        I use the same “Scott shop towl” you recommend, I have attach a pic of the two plies seperated, although it was hard to do with the paper dry, so maybe I’m over thinking it!!

        • Oh, that’s funny, Adam. I just now went and took a very close look at my Scott towels, and they are, indeed, made from two sheets stuck (very very tightly) together! No, don’t bother taking them apart. The towels work great just as they are.

          Boy, I learn something new every day! :)

          • Jonni
            Thanks for that, I thought I was going mad :-) soon as I work out how to post pics I will show you how I’m getting on. I have modified your process a bit, as I am using negative molds. Hope to sell my masks at craft fairs and the like, trying to up my art skills and develop a retirement income :-)

            • Hi Adam. I would love to see your masks when they’re done. I’ve never used the negative molds with paper mache, and I know I would be very interested in knowing how you do it. Keep us posted!

            • Jonni
              Starting small with a standard shape mask, the pick attached shows a “just out of the mold and trimmed” mask, I work in a slightly odd way. I sculpts the shapes in a computer then use some software to turn that into a flatpack paper model so I can assemble it in the real world. I then sculpt on top of this paper “skeleton” with filer glass and car body filler. this makes a perminat plug which I make a plaster rap mold from, and on with paper mache from there.

            • and, the next plug, almost ready for the molding process, bit more adventurous, lets see how this goes :-))

  11. Hi! do you put a layer of vaseline over the mold so that the paper mache can lift off after it is dry? If not, how do you facilitate the separation between the mold and the mask?

    • I do use Vaseline as a final step, which both helps to smooth out the Sculpy and to act as a release for the dried paper mache.

  12. I made a costume to the Firefly Flying Festival at the Botanical Garden in Fayetteville Ar. I made a mask of paper macher.
    Took me sometime because I was not sure what I was doing :-)
    I order to of your book I can’t wait into get here so I can learn more.
    Thank you for all the videos you post at youtube
    Sorry my English spells

  13. When you make a mask with the shop towels and the plaster paper mache, do you paint the maske with the paste, apply one layer of towel and then paint another layer of paste? Or do you just add a second layer of paste after the two layers of towel have been applied to the form.

    • I normally use two layers of paper, with one last coat of paste over the top. The paste acts as the first layer of gesso, but helps to harden the paper layers, too.

  14. Hi, I was just wondering, did you do both layers right after the other or do you have to wait for them to dry in between layers? This is the first time I will be using plaster, so I just wasn’t sure. Thanks!!

  15. I’m curious about this ‘shop towel’ and what it is. Is it just paper? Or is it cloth like? From the video i can’t work out it’s properties, texture, etc. Would love to find something similar in in The Netherlands

    • The towels are paper, and they’re strong but slightly stretchy when wet. This brand isn’t sold in the Netherlands, I think. Kitchen paper towels might work as well – you’ll need to do some experiments with available products.

      • Thanks. I’m experimenting with some fibrous cloth used for buffing cars after waxing and also with the yellow cloths used for cleaning. I like the idea of only having to use two layers…

        • The yellow cloth works better than the car buffering cloth. When mixed with the white glue/plaster/water mixture they become like leather. They hold their shape, but are very flexible with a nice texture. An interesting result, but not really useful for a mask which you may want to use and keep for the long term. Will try to find some kind of thick, absorbent, stretchy paper.


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