How to Make an Owl Mask, #3

how to make an owl mask

This week, I gave the owl mask a coating of shop towel mache.

Now all that’s left is to let him dry all the way through and then take him (or her?) off the Sargent’s Plastilina mold and add the color and texture.

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This would make a very nice display mask if it was painted, perhaps with the feathering indicated by one ply of paper towel that is laid on and then scrunched up. You can see how that works if you watch the video about the gorilla mask. I’m going to use the colored tissue paper to add some texture to the owl, and to give him some color. That’s how I finished the raccoon and the bongo antelope.

This is supposedly (in my imagination, at least) the owl mask that was stolen from the main character in my first cozy mystery novel. Utah O’Brien sold her masks online, (before the recession that happened before the beginning of the second book), and that got me thinking about how I would make masks to sell. What I decided is that I would make them the way I made the gorilla mask.

gorilla21With that method, you start with the original clay model, just like I did for the owl mask. Then, instead of paper mache, you use plaster cloth. The plaster hardens in minutes, while it can take days for the paper mache to harden enough to take the mask off the clay. Time is so important when creating a product to sell, so if I wanted to sell masks, I’d go with the plaster cloth method and finish the masks with just one layer of paper mache if it’s needed for texturing. I also used some air dry clay for the finer details on the gorilla.

But for those of us who aren’t in a hurry, paper mache is much less expensive. It just takes a little longer.

Three More Videos – See How the Mask Was Made and How it Came Out:


13 thoughts on “How to Make an Owl Mask, #3”

  1. Hi Jonni,

    My husband and I have decided to make some animal masks as a project while we’re in lockdown and I’ve learnt so much to do so from all your videos!

    I was wondering if you’d ever used the glue and joint compound paste with newspaper rather than the blue towels? I’m trying to use materials I already have around the house but was worried maybe this would be too bulky to mould around the clay armature.

    Thanks so much!

      • Hi Jonni,

        Thanks so much for such a quick reply! I think I’ll stick to a glue and water paste for the mask with a glue and joint compound layer on top for a smooth finish.

        I will definitely share photos when they’re done, although knowing me that’ll be quite some time!

  2. Hi, Jonni. I have been in love with you and your art for some time now. Unfortunately I am virtually (and shockingly) computer illiterate. But, I finally decided to try to let you know that your artwork makes my heart beat faster. As do the incredible works of Rex and some of the other wonderful and generous artists. I make mixed media sculptures. Mostly using polymer clay, but I love the look of paper mache more. I can’t show you my art (see above), but one of my favorite things is looking at other artists’ fascinating and imaginative works. But, at times someone will post a picture and no one will comment and I worry that the artist might be discouraged. Is it simply a matter of them posting at a “bad” time or too far down on the page? Artists: Please keep creating no matter what! Someone LOVES/NEEDS your art. In any event, Jonni, thank you so much for sharing your cardio-stimulating art and for bringing together some amazing artists.
    P.S. I am broke and ancient, so I’m sorry that I can’t afford any of your books. If I ever have a reversal of fortune, I will buy (at least) one of each!

    • Hello, Shelbot. Thank you for saying such nice things about the blog and our readers’ work. We have a nice community here, of very supportive artists, and I’m glad you’ve joined us.

      There are a few images that get lost, unfortunately. We have over 10,000 visitors a day, and I do try to answer every comment. Unfortunately, I sometimes miss one. Fortunately, there are so many other people reading the blog that someone else usually jumps in to add their encouraging words. If you ever see one of these orphan comments and photos, I hope you’ll add a few words of your own.


  3. HI Jonni, I was scrolling though YouTube earlier looking for a how to make a head sculpture bust when I cam across you. I was wondering if there was any way for you to make one of me, since I’m not to creative and if possible what would the pricing be? Thank You!

    • Hi Taylor. Unfortunately, I don’t do commissions. All my time is taken up with my writing projects. Maybe you could find someone to do it for you at a local college art department.

  4. Hi Jonni,
    Thank you for this amazing website! What a wonderful accumulation of information and resources!

    I have a question about technique:
    I understand that making a piece light and as thin as possible is desirable, and a traditional feature of paper mache, but I am hoping to sculpt more freely, adding to my surface as need be without building up my armature first. I plan to cover my armature (styrofoam) with the instant dry method (Your plaster and shop towel method), then build additional detail with your paper clay recipe. Can I do this? What problems might I encounter? How thick can I sculpt with the paper clay, and is it just a matter of letting it dry between layers, or can I sculpt thick and give it a long dry time?

    Thank you so much in advance, I am inspired beyond belief.

    I am a cake decorator by trade, here is an example of my work


    • My, you do amazing work! I didn’t know anything like that was even possible!

      As for the paper mache, yes, you can add the paper mache clay over the shop towel mache. I like to keep my layers less than 1/4″, to make sure they can dry quickly. You can always add more. We’d love to see what you make, when it’s done.


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