Make Paper Mache Halloween Masks

Your whole family can have a lot of fun constructing your own ghastly, horrifying, hair-raising, goose-pimpling, and easy-to-make paper mache Halloween masks.


| September/October 1980



065 halloween masks - clay mold

TOP: Cover a bowl with plastic wrap, then clay. BOTTOM: Sculpts a mold in clay for the funny face.


CYNTHIA DRISCOLL

Begone, catalog costumes ... Away, discount store superheroes ... Out, out, Halloween sewing machine blues!  

That's right, you don't need to purchase commercial costumes (or put in hours sitting at a sewing machine) to outfit your children in Halloween regalia, because—by spending some enjoyable, creative time together—you and your youngsters can create goon, witch, and monster masks so terrifying that the homemade disguises will surely satisfy the timeless roaming spirits of Allhallows' Eve ... and your own trick-or-treaters as well!

Before you can begin making a paper-mache halloween mask, though, you have to find a "secret" (that is, mess-tolerant) work spot and assemble some necessary supplies. You'll need paper and pencils ... a face-sized bowl for each youngster ... potter's or earth-dug clay ... plastic wrap ... newspapers ... flour, water, and a large mixing container ... a board (or stiff cardboard) work surface for each mask ... scissors ... acrylic paints ... and some half-inch-wide elastic. (Books about trolls or animals are also useful resources, since the illustrations in such volumes can often help turn reluctant young artists into self-motivated frenzies of invention.)

Our own mask-making gang includes my children—John, Pedro, Julie, and Melissa—as well as their technical assistant, my husband Todd. We usually congregate around the outdoor picnic table and plunge right into the task of sketching the mask designs. Oh, there's always at least one child who feels that he or she will "never think of anything to make" (the rest are absolutely exploding with ideas), but before long every youth is eagerly offering suggestions, combining efforts, and asking weird questions:

"Would three eyes look good, Dad?"... "How about a nice juicy wart on my witch's loooong chin?" ... "Should my mask be blue with a red nose?" (My husband and I, of course, encourage all such original thinking.)

After a considerable amount of brainstorming and drawing, every child has produced a good ghoulish sketch and is ready to start creating a mask mold. And while it's true that an upside-down oval bowl covered with plastic wrap can serve perfectly well as a mold all by itself, we've found that mask-making is easier—and a heck of a lot more fun—if we shape clay over the containers and build the monster faces we want.





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