Theater Masks and Props Using Paper Mache Clay

Paper Mache Clay Masks for Theater Production
Paper Mache Clay Masks for Theater Production

Today’s guest post is by Richard Curtis, who sent in some fabulous photos of masks and props he made for a recent theater production.

I’ll let Richard take it from here:

I have enclosed a few of the shots from our production of Oedipus Rex. All the masks and props were created using the paper mache clay recipe.  Thank you.

I designed and created the masks, along with being the set designer and scenic artist. The play was Oedipus Rex by Sophocles, after years of the community college being ridiculed for it’s performances and lack of tech, we took it to a whole new level with this show. The masks alone set NESCC on a whole new level in this area and make people take notice, they even put NESCC into the Kennedy Center Festival for the 1st time.

We decided to show the world that Greek theatre can be cool and fun; steering away from the mundayne traditional style and immersing the audience into the horrid world of the play itself. Without your recipe, I never would have been able to accomplish this and I thank you immensely. You have my full permission to use the photos in any way you see fit. Once again, Thank You!

All I can say is Wow! Thanks, Richard, for sharing these with us. Be sure to click on these smaller images to see the full-sized photos (This is the first time I’ve tried to make a gallery for photos – please let me know if it doesn’t work):

11 thoughts on “Theater Masks and Props Using Paper Mache Clay

  1. Just wondering what can be done to safely “seal” a mask. Are finishing sprays ok? Are they safe to wear after spraying them?

    • I use acrylic varnish. It dries very hard. I think there are some spray versions, but you’d want to read the label to read any warnings.

  2. I am happy to inform you that the mask won 1st place at the KCACTF region IV for Allied Design and Technologies and I will now be taking them to USITT in March to compete for nationals.

  3. I LOVE the masks! Very creative! I am currently trying to make something close using your paper mache clay. Any tips I could use? Thanks very much.
    Heidi

    • I’ve been using clay to form a positive mold for my masks, and I really like how it’s coming out. Oil-based clay is probably a better choice, since you don’t need to wait for it to dry, and it stays pliable so it’s always easy to pull it out of the finished mask. You can see one I made using water based clay and the paper mache clay here. The masks on this page were made over modeling clay, using paper strips and a plaster-based paste instead of the paper mache clay, in order to get a really thin, light mask.

  4. This is fantastic! I love crafts, but work and have three kids so I lack time to devote to it. I’ve been wanting to get back into some kind of craft for awhile and I was thinking of writing a play and using paper mache to make masks for the costumes. My only concern was if the masks inhibited the actors voices making it difficult to understand what they were saying or even hear them.

    • You can always put holes for the mouths, or stop the masks just under the nose and cheeks, like the traditional commedia dell’arte masks.

  5. I love the form, texture and the use of bold color and shape. What an inventive idea, I too would have love to have seen that play. Paper Mache as an art form has come a long way and this proves it. Bravo!

  6. OMG!!! What a lot of absolutely fantastic masks! I so wish I could have attended that play. How in the world did you make so may masks?! Wish I could have helped. Unbelievably wonderful.

  7. Oedipus Rex was perhaps the first play I found myself enjoying while reading it in high school. I love seeing the mix of the drama with paper mache. And your gallery came out fine!

    Rich

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