I’m certain this has been done numerous times, but I’ve documented the process of making Death Eaters masks in detail. Dixiebell, ebil witch that she is, put a bug in my ear to go on a raiding party at Hogsmeade Witches Weekend. And really, who can say no to that?
Since it’s very graphics heavy, it’s below the cut.
Please excuse the mess. I don’t have the most logical mind, but I’ve tried to be succinct while offering ‘good advice.’ I free handed this as ideas came to me, but a birdie told me that you might want to plan your design out first. I like 'surprises' and with all art there is never any wrongs. Whatever you do will be brilliant and unique. As you can tell this was done on my dirty ironing board. It only took a day and a half, and it was very easy to complete. And I had so much fun, I'd do it again in a heartbeat.
Sturdy Mardi Gras mask ($17.95)
Air Dry papier-mâché – Just add water ($6.99)
NOTE: I only used a good fistful of the stuff for everything, so there’s no use buying a big box unless you have other plans for it.
Black and silver acrylic paint. High gloss acrylic sealer. ($1.25 apiece)
3/8” black elastic band ($1.29 for 2 yards)
Black felt square (.25)
Craft paste ($2.99) and Crazy Glue ($1.99)
Assorted brushes and whatnot. Foam sponge stipplers worked really well. I was happy about finally having a project to use my modeling tools on, and they were useless. Recommend using finger.
Find a mask. Give me the small indulgence that I wanted a demi-mask. All the instructions apply just as well to a full face mask. I selected the mask I used based upon its shape, potential, and fit. In this case it was fortunate that I live in Louisiana where Mardi Gras masks are plentiful. There are several sources online. The mask blanks at Michaels are thin plastic crap. I’m pretty certain they’ll cave under the weight of the papier-mâché.
Mix the air dry papier-mâché. The instructions on the box are for mixing 1lb of material. Ha! Grab a fist full and slowly add warm water – less than a half cup. Knead with your hands until you have a workable doughy/spongy ball.
Work fast. The stuff dries quickly on your hands and digital camera… Place your papier-mâché where you want it. I built up the brow and made cheekbones that Sophia Loren would be jealous of. It sculpts fairly well. Fortunately I am highly skilled at mucking around with playdough. This stuff doesn’t taste as good as playdough, but it’s better than paste! Yum!
Let it dry. I placed the masks in front of a box fan to speed up the air drying process because I had it built up pretty thick. I let it dry a full day just to be safe, but it looked ‘fine’ overnight.
Paint! My favorite part. The papier-mâché is very porous and will suck paint like crazy. You’re going to do two layers of base coat, so leave the detail work until the end. Build up a base coat, letting it dry between each painting. I used the box fan to speed it up again, but acrylics also dry fast. Where I painted on straight plastic required some patience because it likes to smear, but once a good base coat had taken, it was easy. **make sure you’re allowing it to dry between coats**
- In applying camouflage, the theory is that you subdue the high points on the face – chin, cheekbones, lips, brow, and nose. Then you highlight the low points on the face, cheeks, temples, jawline. From a distance you then look more ‘flat.’ Incidentally this is the reverse of applying ladies makeup. To stand out and look striking, you want to highlight the highpoints. I did this by using the silver paint. I burnished the cheekbones for high drama and darkened around the eyes. Death Eaters – drama queens.
Stippling for affect
Once I was satisfied with the finished look, I added the sealer. Acrylic doesn’t require a sealant like some paints do, but I was more concerned about preserving the papier-mâché. The sealant also added some high gloss glam. Several sealants are on the market for big bucks. I used a small bottle found with the other acrylics for under $2. When they say that it dries fast – they ain’t kidding. Use your biggest brush and just swirl that sucker on. Oh, ventilation would also be good.
Once you’re completely dried and ready to finish off your mask it’s time to add felt to the back. Is it necessary? Nope. Completely optional. But I figure if I’m going to have something stuck to my face, I’m going to be comfortable. And anyone who’s worn a gasmask for over 5 hours can attest to that. It’s an extra step that’s worth it. Slather craft glue/paste to one half of your mask. Place the felt over it, and adjust as necessary. You might have to snip the felt here and there to manipulate it. Press it into the nose cavity. Slather craft glue/paste to the other half of the mask. Use your fingers to smooth it all out. Set it aside to dry. This doesn’t really take too long. I used Aileen’s All purpose craft paste. I don’t see rubber cement working out too well.
Use an Exacto-knife to cut away the excess felt from the edge of the mask and the eyeholes. You don’t need me to tell you to be careful – do you? I thought not. As always, cut away from yourself. I used smaller snips to trim up fuzz and what the knife left behind. Save a small portion of the felt.
Cut the elastic band into the right length to tie behind your head. I eyeballed it. I also cut four ties that way I can secure it above and below my ears. It also helps with comfort. Glue the ends to the mask. I used super glue. Then using what’s left of the felt, cut a circle. Glue the circle over the elastic end so that it doesn’t rub you inside the mask. If you want to be uber-crafty, use a lighter to singe the ends of the elastic so it doesn’t fray. Once the glue is all dry you’re ready to hit the town.
This is me. All tarted up and trying to look …dunno… whatever it is, it’s not working. But you get the idea.
Papier-mâché does not take sandpaper well.
Get someone to photograph your process for you. The digital camera now sports some lovely paint splotches and papier-mâché.