Need a strong, lightweight mask that dries quickly?
Here’s a way to make super-strong paper mache that only needs one layer – and it dries in 12 hours or less.
But yeah, it’s expensive — so only use this method if you need a mask that’s almost indestructible, or if you need to get it done from start to finish in two days or less.
Unfortunately, my local hardware store only carries tiny bottles of it, and I have many more patterns to design for the Lion King characters. It would cost too much to pay for the little bottles. So I ordered my glue online from amazon.com — the larger bottles are a much better value than the small ones.
If you live near one of the big DIY stores, they’ll have this glue in stock in the bigger containers. My 32 oz bottle cost about $15, and I think it will be enough for four lion headdress masks.
If you’re just starting with your first paper mache project, you might also want to read my new post “how to make paper mache in 5 steps.”
But do remember …
The Titebond III glue is very strong, so use a throw-away container. I ruined one of my bowls by letting the glue dry in it overnight. I couldn’t get it out, no matter how hard I scrubbed. I just made a temporary bowl out of an old yogurt container
Why Titebond III instead of Elmer’s?
Titebond III grabs onto the paper instead of letting it slide around, and in my experience it dries faster than Elmer’s Wood Glue. I tried them both, but the Titebond product worked much better for me. It is expensive, I know. But for a project like this, where you really need the mask to hold up even under a bit of abuse, it’s worth the extra cost.
Mix a small amount of water with the glue..
You only need enough water to make the glue thin enough to brush. You don’t want it so wet that it will saturate the cardboard. If you’re using it over another kind of armature, you’ll still want to have more glue than water in the mix, to get the strongest bond.
Brush on the glue…
OK, I admit that I gave up on the brush after I’d been working for about an hour, but the brush will help you apply only as much glue as you really need.
It really helps if you put one hand on the inside of your mask, to support the cardboard when you press down on the glued paper. To see some tips on applying paper mache strips and paste smoothly, click here.
Let the paper mache dry overnight…
I put my mask on a piece of waxed paper and let it dry overnight. You can see that I didn’t put paper mache on the inside of my mask’s cap, because I didn’t think it would be needed. For a normal face mask, you might want to put paper mache on both the inside and outside of the mask, to make sure it’s nice and strong.
It’s ready to paint after drying overnight …
As you saw in the video, one area inside an ear was still damp the next morning. The glue was applied too thickly, and it pooled in the ear while it sat upside down. It’s a good idea to look over the wet mask and use a paper towel to remove any excess glue, so the entire mask will dry at the same time.
The mask cap is still flexible, but every seam is reinforced with the strong glue and paper. This mask should hold up well, even when worn by middle-school kids during rehearsals and during the Lion King play.
If you’ve used wood glue with paper mache before, please let us know about your experiences with it. Did you like it? And if you have any ideas for other projects that would benefit from this method, please tell us about them.