Paper Maché

 (Photo instructions below)

Yes, it’s like being in kindergarden again. There are many variations on how to apply the paper so use whatever method makes you happy and brings back play-time memories.
Here’s one method.

  • Apply a thin coat of release agent to the face mould (petroleum jelly).
  • Now we can build features (the new face) out of clay, moulding with hands and sometimes small tools for detailed work.
  • When the face is moulded, we apply petroleum jelly to the still moist clay.
  • Then we apply layers of papier mache.
  • The paper I like to work with is thick brown paper with strong fibres.
  • Crush and crumple the paper until it is malleable (soft) and will take form easily. Tear (never cut) different sized pieces.
  • The mache I like is a mixture of white flour, white glue and water.
  • Apply at least three layers allowing time to dry in between layers. (not essential to dry in between layers but it’s preferable).
  • Once dry, use sandpaper to smooth face if desired. Easiest to do this when it is still on the mould.
  • Remove the dry paper mask from the mould by turning it over and pulling or digging out the clay.
  • Wipe off Vaseline from the inside. Here you may need to let the mask dry from the inside for a while. (wipe off the clay and rehydrate for further use)
  • Cut eye holes, nose holes. For these holes, try to trim across the mask from the inside to make an even cut. Then do a more detailed cut with a scalpel knife.
  • Trim edges. Do this by putting the mask on and looking in a mirror to see when each part of the mask fits the face properly. Trim a little and check again.
  • Add fake features like teeth, eyes, lashes as well as screen to cover eye holes if necessary. Do this by using contact cement or hot glue.
  • Note – if using table tennis balls for eyes, be careful the hot glue doesn’t melt the ball.
  • Cut slits just above the ear level for the elastic band strap.
  • Seal mask with glue. It is possible to use contact cement but best is a non-toxic, Latex based glue. The desire here is to seal with a rubbery coating so it is more moisture proof and flexible and looks more like skin. Use finger. It ruins brushes (this step is optional)
Strips: So many ways to mache. Take your time and make it smooth. It is possible to sand afterwards but sanding is not a substitute for well placed layering. Don’t forget to add a fun layer of images or patterns face down on the first layer.
Remove Plaster Face Mould: Turn mask upside-down, dig out any clay around the mould and pop it out.
Remove Clay: You should be able to pull the clay out in chunks as long as it is still moist. Use a tool to dig into deeper areas like the nose if necessary.
Remove Petroleum Jelly: Using a paper cloth or rag, wipe inside of mask. You might have to do it several times.
Trim: This is where you trim the major bits around the edge and cut the eye holes. Then looking into a mirror or with a friend watching, figure where to snip further.
Coating: It is possible (but not necessary) to cover the paper mask with non-toxic latex based glue to fill small holes and make the surface more flesh-like.