Paper Mache Lion Mask Pattern

Use This Pattern to Create a Helmet-Style Lion Mask or a Lion-Head Sculpture for Your Wall

This pattern is a digital download. To create your lion mask you begin with cardboard, tape, and paper mache. Then it comes to life with your creativity and a coat of acrylic paint.

Helmet-style lion mask pattern.You can create a sculpted mane with cardboard, as shown in the first image above, or create your own custom mane with a softer material, like yarn or raffia. To see how I made the raffia mane, watch the second video below.

The downloadable file includes complete instructions for cutting out your pattern pieces on corrugated cardboard and taping them together. The pattern also includes two backs – one has a hanger so you can display your paper mache lion on the wall, and the other one turns the lion head into a comfortable helmet-style mask that you can wear.

You can use either traditional paper strips and paste over your cardboard mask, or use a slightly-altered version of Jonni’s paper mache clay recipe, as shown in the first video below. For the recipes, click on the  Art Library link at the top of the page.

Finished size: Helmet-style mask – about 15.5 inches (39 cm) high, 13 inches (33 cm) wide and 12 inches (30 cm) deep. About 7.5” deep (17 cm) if built as a wall display mask.

To make the lion mask you will need:

  • Standard letter size paper (8.5” x 11”) or A4 paper (210 × 297 mm) or full-sheet labels for printing the pattern.
  • Cardboard
  • Glue stick, if printing on copy paper instead of labels
  • Box cutter or craft knife
  • Tape
  • Hot glue gun (if making a custom-made mane with a soft material like raffia or twine)
  • Paper strips and paste, or paper mache clay
  • Paper towels (to add texture to a sculpted mane*)
  • Acrylic paint and varnish

Watch the  first video below to see how I sculpted the texture in the cardboard mane on my wall mask. If you’d like to create a custom-designed mane with a softer material, see how I created the raffia mane for my helmet-style lion mask in the second video.

pattern instructions for lion mask
A page from the instructions that come with the lion mask pattern.

To paint the lion masks I used:

  • Liquitex Super Heavy Gesso (for the lion with a sculpted mane) and DIY gesso made with drywall joint compound and Elmer’s glue (for the lion with raffia mane – the recipe is in the Art Library, the link is at the top of the page)
  • Acrylic Paint (Yellow Ochre, White, Black, Burnt Sienna, Burnt Umber, “Sunkissed Peach” craft paint (a soft pink I had on hand), Cadmium Orange and Cadmium Red Light (for the nose)
  • For the mask with a sculpted mane I used Golden Acrylic Glazing Liquid mixed with Burnt Umber to bring out the texture in the mane.
  • Matte Acrylic Varnish

If you’re using a soft custom-made mane, you may need different colors to match the material you choose.

If you’d like to make a raffia mane like the one in the second video, you can see the raffia table skirt I purchased here, on amazon.com

You might also like:

To see even more patterns for sculptures and masks, click here.

Questions?

You can ask in the comment field below. I read all the comments, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Or send me an email – [email protected] – be sure to put “paper mache” in the subject line so your email won’t get accidentally deleted.

39 thoughts on “Paper Mache Lion Mask Pattern

  1. Hi, I’m making a dragon and I was hoping you could help me with the wings. They are large and I want them transparent with faint color, I’m trying not to use epoxy resin, what else can I use that will be light in weight?

    • Hi Johanna. This is an interesting question! Would cheesecloth dipped in Elmer’s Glue-All be strong enough? Are you making a wire armature for the skin of the wings?

  2. Love the raffia mane Jonni! I agree that more filling out would have been nice but what you have totally works. I thought of another way to make a mane- how about real wool like they use for felting? You could just put some thin foam around the edges and use the felting needle to push the felting wool into the foam. It might look rather natural.
    I love the paint job even more than the last one. It gives the lion a softness or vulnerable look to him with a hint of curiosity. Excellent job.
    It WAS good to hear from Shelbot!

    • Yes, we have missed our Shelbot – he’s been doing important things, though, I’m sure. 🙂

      I really like the wool idea. (I tried felting a few years ago and I managed a few slippers before I gave up.) If anyone tries that, I would really love to see how it looks.

  3. Oh, Jonni….I love, love, love this mask! For some odd reason, around the 14 minute mark the mask started to remind me of Jesus! How ironic since He’s often referred to as a lion! Anyway, I am in awe of your talent, kindness and generous nature! Thank you forf sharing your gifts and talents with us!

    • Thanks, Janet. And that is interesting that you made that connection. My internet connection is so slow at the moment that I can’t go watch it again (need a new computer!) but I will look again as soon as the machinery is cooperating. 🙂

  4. Jonni, I thought the first lion was beautiful, but am freaking out over the second one. Not only does the raffia look fantastic, but the painting is magnifique. I want. If I beg, can I have him? Non? Oh, well. He is just amazing. As are you. Thanks again for all the beauty you create.

      • Jonni, while it’s true that all amazingly gifted, accomplished artists need to hear the opinions of minimally-talented, old curmudgeons, I am indeed honored by your wonderful words. I patiently await my lion mask.
        : )
        Although, I have never made a gorgeous lion mask, I did make a sculpt of my to furbabies dressed as characters from the “Wizard of Oz”. Not my best work, but will try to post.

        • Mister Shelbot, we’ll accept the ‘curmudgeon’ label you’ve assigned to yourself, but the minimally-talented label is definitely questionable. I think Salt and Pepper are adorable in their Wizard of Oz costumes. But you must tell us what the numbers are for – or should we be able to guess? And how were they made? Is that real fur?

          • I told S&P that you remembered their names and they said, “Our Aunt Jonni remembers our names!? Yay!” Then they rolled their eyes and went back to sleep. Ingrates! Anyway, most of the lion “suit” is fake fur, but there are (sadly) some tufts of real fur. A very old piece from a stole or something that someone had given me to use. His mane is twine. I’ll try to take/post another picture later, if you like.

            • Oh, and the numbers are to celebrate a friend’s 25 (more now) years of sobriety.
              I believe the bodies and limbs are just rolls of newspaper covered with fabric/fur. The dogs have yarn eyebrows, etc. I’ll take the liberty of trying to post another pic. You can see the twine mane here, I think.

            • I love that mane – the twine would be perfect for my lion mask, too, if you don’t mind someone borrowing the idea. Did you use hot glue to attach the twine to the Cowardly Lion? And did you un-twist the twine after it was attached? Are you getting tired of my questions?

      • Eileen, I have missed you also. I try to view the posts as often as I can. When I see beautiful sculptures and interesting comments by my faves: Jonni (of course), Rex, Allan or the lovely and talented Eileen {I left a lot of people out, but if you think you belong, go ahead and add yourself to the list : )}, I want to jump right in there, but I just don’t have the presence of mind to write a coherent sentence at times. Plus, as crazy as it sounds, I always want to go back to where I left off and praise and thank every single person individually who has posted their art. Since I can’t do that, THANK YOU, EVERYONE! Keep making the world more beautiful and interesting.

  5. Jonni-what a wonderful lion mask! An the paint job is great even though you said it was done quickly. Some would envy that quality-quick and well done. The mane is cool. When I had done a lion king mask many, many years ago, I used twine dipped in a glue/ water mix and allowed it to dry stiffly. It worked well and stood up to the production. I like the thought of raffia as well. Depending on the use of the mask, stiffened with glue would work with that as well.
    I don’t know if you should go with the easier gardening method because you are looking very fit and healthy! The excersize is doing you well!

    • Thanks Eileen. And I love the idea of using twine stiffened with glue for the mane. How did you attach the twine to your mask? (And thank you for the compliment, as well. 🙂 )

      • It was so long ago, I think I poked holes in the mask and pushed several strands of twine through and then glued them. It held up to 8th graders abuse, that’s all I know.

        • Eileen, you just reminded me of the silly lion mask I made with a wire mane for the ReStore’s recycled art auction. I just watched the video again to see how I attached the wire, but the way I did it wouldn’t work for this new lion mask. (It was certainly colorful, though!) And that reminded me of my Einstein – for his hair I used really fine wire that I bought from the hardware store. I didn’t explain how it was attached in the post, and now I can’t remember, but I do know it was put on over a sculpted “mane,” and that might actually work for this mask. The cardboard mane would create the shapes. You’d probably want to paint it so it looked like mottled shadows after the curly wire is added. Perhaps with small dabs of hot glue?
          Einstein with wire 'mane.'

          • You could even use some steel wool that has been pulled apart. I am sure glue would work on that. Isn’t it funny that we don’t remember how we achieved something several years later. At the time we swear we would never forget! I love that Einstein mask. Do you still have it or did I you just pull out an old photo?

            • I mailed it to a friend a few months ago – a surprise birthday present for a gentleman of a certain age. It’s been one of my favorites for a long time, and I think that’s partly because I didn’t fuss with ‘getting it right,’ and partly because of that wiry hair.

              If I didn’t start this blog back when I first took up paper mache, I’d never remember anything I’ve done! I can’t even remember my own recipes. Fortunately, they’re either in one of my books or in the Art Library. If they weren’t, I’d have to re-invent them every month or so. 🙂

      • I agree, your summer projects really look like they agree with you! However, I’m always looking for easier gardening too. I’ve discovered a love for mulch. Around the farm there’s always a rotting bale of cornstalks or old hay. They are my new friends. I love your sculpted mane and am really excited to see your raffia mane – it can be hard to incorporate a soft material onto a hard sculpture, but you always shine and I think your choice of material is outstanding!

        • Thanks, Sheepish. If you have sheep around your farm (and I’m guessing you do 🙂 ) raw wool might make an interesting mane. Dried corn leaves might work, too. (And I’m really jealous of your rotting hay. I grow my own comfrey for mulch, but there’s never enough.)

          • What a fabulous lion! Your raffia mane is simply amazing! My hot glueing skills are woeful at best. I really like the idea of a wool mane (and the felting needle attachment). How ever did you guess I have sheep? 😀 I have a bag of wool that just might work for that. I matted it a bit when I washed it so it was too frustrating to card. I will certainly put that on my list of someday projects. The present one (a picture book I’m beginning to regret I ever thought of) is eating up all my spare time. Perhaps I’ll try corn husks too. Dried silks would be fun on a little lion, but probably too delicate for life here. You are so full of good ideas!

            • It sounds like you have enough projects planned to keep you busy for a long time! And I think the picture book you’re working on sounds like great fun. Be sure to let us know when it’s published!

  6. Jonni, that is a mighty jungle — wait! In the jungle, the mighty jungle, a lion waits tonight — isn’t there a song like that! Crazy. Love the lion.

    Every time you do one of these masks, I think of the NOVA show on origami. I ought to find that on DVD somewhere and send it to you. The talk about how everything in nature can unfold (or fold) like origami. Flowers were shocking, and they even made an origami space station that is flat, small, light-weight, and unfolds once it is in space. Of course, this is much more beautiful than a way station. Great

    • That’s one of my favorite songs! The NOVA show does sound interesting. Did they use an algorithm or some mathematical model to unfold their flowers? I wish there was an easier way to do it than what I’ve come up with so far – much trial and error.

      • Google “The Origami Revolution” or “Origami images.” It is mathematical but also artistic. Amazing what they made. They made “level” flowers and some with crinkly leaves. I think they had mathematical geniuses from all over the world (Japan, of course) working on it.

    • From now on my garden will be no-dig. And not much weeding, either. But the soil wasn’t very good and needed some work. No-work garden is what I’m after! But I have to work up to it. And I needed the exercise after the long winter anyway. 😉

      Are you a gardener?

      • I love plants and do have a couple of gardens and a tiny greenhouse. I don’t think there is such a thing as a no work garden, but you can aim to reduce the harder work of yearly digging. Good luck with your gardening and your wonderful artwork.

    • Thank you, Penelpe. And yes, it takes a while to turn a rounded sculpture into something that can be created out of flat cardboard. But it’s an interesting puzzle, so it’s a lot of fun. I’m glad you like him. 🙂

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