Easy Pattern for a Paper Mache Lion Mask or Wall Sculpture


The downloadable PDF pattern includes complete instructions for taping the printable pattern pieces together and finishing your lion with paper mache.

Use the pattern to create a helmet-style mask, and be a lion for a few hours.

You can also display the lion on your wall or create a treasured gift for someone who loves these big, beautiful cats. Your gift will be even more special when you tell them you made it yourself.

This is a downloadable PDF Pattern with full illustrated instructions: You’ll be able to download your pattern right after you order. You’ll also receive an email with the download link, and a separate receipt. The emails may take a few minutes to arrive. If you don’t see them, be sure to check your spam or promotions folder.

Be sure to download your pattern directly to your computer or device, so you can access it again later.

Helmet-style lion mask pattern.Create a sculpted mane with cardboard, paper towels and paste (it’s easy, and the inistructions are included in the downloadable file).

Or make a custom mane with a softer material, like yarn or raffia. To see how I made the raffia mane, watch the second video below.

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.


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Do you have a question or need help with your pattern?

I love questions!

There are two ways to contact me:

The fastest way to get an answer is to leave a comment on this page. I read all comments and answer them as soon as I can, usually within a few hours. Some of my readers might also chime in to help – we have a very supportive community here on this site.

If you prefer to reach me privately, you can send me an email.  I’ll try to respond as quickly as I can, but if you don’t hear back from me within 24 hours, assume the cyberspace gremlins ate your email and try again.

49 thoughts on “Paper Mache Lion Mask Pattern”

  1. I am in the middle of trying to follow the pattern, but it seems like my lion mouth. I feel like the pieces aren’t fitting together right and I have tape everywhere. PLus, the nostrils seem really close together (not providing much space for the nose). I am a first timer, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • Hi Stephanie. It should look like the photo below after the mouth and nose have been taped together. The nose will push the two sides of the muzzle apart. Does your lion look different than the photo?

  2. Hello! I just bought this lion mask pattern – it’s just exquisite. I am excited to use the pattern to create 2 masks for my son’s Lion King Jr. play. I plan to use different materials for the manes and to round the face out a bit on one to differentiate between Mufasa and Grown Up Simba. Here’s my difficulty: for the play, the “masks” will actually sit on top of their heads so that their faces are not blocked and people will be able to hear them speak and sing. I cannot figure out how to alter this pattern to make it work in this fashion. I believe I can use the wrap-around style to make it so it will fit on top of a head but I am having difficulty figuring out how to mount the head on top rather than in front and then, how to finish off the back so that it can be viewed from all angles. Any ideas/direction you can provide would be SO appreciated!!

    • Hi Christine. I’m doing some research now to see how headdress-style masks are made, and there isn’t a lot of information out there. The lion mask was not made especially for the lion king play, so it will need to be customized. Or friend Kevin Doheny wrote a guest post for us showing us how he attached his lion king masks to a baseball cap. The lion mask might be a lot heavier than his zebra mask, though. I’m sorry I don’t have better ideas for you – but I am looking! If anyone has some suggestions for us for using the mask on top of the head, it would be very much appreciated!

      • Jonni, thanks so much for trying to figure this out! I, too, had difficulty finding ideas online so Kevin Doheny’s idea is great food for thought. I am going to do my best to keep the weight of the lion’s head as light as possible – especially since these are middle school kids. Hopefully, some other folks might have some ideas as well and I’ll have a good starting place for making what I need. I do love the internet for just this reason.

  3. The patterns are FABULOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I can’t thank you enough. I just bought the patterns 3 days ago and I am having so much fun and SUCH SUCCESS because of great pattern, great directions, great videos. Simply splendid in every way.

  4. Hi Jonni,

    I ordered your lion mask and am having trouble getting the mouth right but I think it could be the way I did the muzzle and mouth, not sure. Am I suppose to pull all the pieces at the cut up next to each other or just at the end, I did the 1st. Fixing to start over. I am using medium weight .062 inches chipboard will that be ok? Thank you!

    • Hi Ttracy. The muzzle piece has some long darts, which need to be taped together all the way from the points to the edges. And that really long piece that sticks out is then curved around and attached to the lower edge of the muzzle. It should look like this after you’ve taped all the darts:

      And it should look like this after the long piece is taped on to form the lower lip:


      If this isn’t the information you were looking for, just let me know.

      • And the medium chipboard should be stiff enough for this pattern. You might want to completely cover it with masking tape after all the seams are taped together. That will keep the chipboard from getting wet from the paper mache and keep it from warping as the paper mache dries.

  5. 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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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. 🙂

  8. 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.

  9. 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!

  10. 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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