MOTHER's Children: Make Homemade Halloween Masks

Our young contributor's homemade Halloween masks were such a hit she's telling you how to make them too.

| September/October 1984

My brother Cory and I create our own homemade Halloween masks. We decided to make them because we didn't think the ones in the store were worth the money they cost. They were all either expensive or poorly made. Our mom liked the idea and suggested we make our masks with papier-mache (a French word that literally means "chewed paper") so we could use up some of the old newspapers around the house.

To make the masks we needed to buy some medium-size pear-shaped balloons, wallpaper paste, white glue, masking tape, and paint. (We already had lots of newspapers.) You can make your own scary or funny face, too! Here's how.

Tear up lots of newspaper into long strips about half an inch wide. Next, blow up a balloon until it's a little bit larger than your own head.

Work up a batch of wallpaper paste by mixing two parts powder to ten parts water. Then pull the strips, one at a time, through the paste and stick them to the inflated balloon. Keep adding layers to the balloon until the papier-mache is about five strips thick, but be sure to leave a small, uncovered opening at the bottom. Hang the strip-covered balloon from the bottom to dry until the covering gets very hard.

When the paper's all dry, pop the balloon and pull it through the hole. Then cut out that hole some more, making it just big enough so you can slip on the unfinished mask. Once it's on your head, get somebody with a felt-tipped pen to help you mark exactly where your eyes, nose, and mouth line up with the mask. Then take the papier-mache head off and carefully cut out those openings. Put masking tape around the holes to keep the mask from scratching your face.

Now it's time to add the supports for the facial details. To make eyebrows or lips, twist a stick of newspaper and hold it in place with masking tape. Egg carton cups or paper cones can be taped on to make a nose, horns, chin, or even goggle eyes. If you'd like your creature to look real brainy, wad up two big balls of newspaper and tape them on top. Big ears are fun to add, too, but you'll have to use stiff cardboard to make those.

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