The history of the masquerade mask is intertwined with the history of the festive season of Carnival. During this religious celebration, people crowd the streets in costume to party before Lent. The costumes include ostentatious masks of all shapes and sizes. The design of masquerades masks is fairly simple — the mask covers the top half of the wearer’s face and is sometimes attached to a handle. Today masquerade masks are also worn at non-religious costume parties or at Halloween. Use the following steps to make a masquerade mask.
With Paper or Card
Choose or create your mask design. The standard mask goes a bit above the eyebrows and ends at the top of the cheekbone, but yours doesn’t have to. A basic masquerade mask is an elongated horizontal oval with a curved hump for the nose. More elaborate masquerade masks can cover more of the cheeks and forehead with exaggerated points at either end. Look for ideas on the Internet or a costume shop. You will also need to decide the type of materials to use in your mask construction.
Sketch or print out the basic outline of your design on a piece of paper. For a sturdier mask, use cardstock. You could also take several pieces of paper to make it even stronger.
You want the outline to be plain with plenty of inner white space. Use letter-sized paper — anything smaller wouldn’t work and anything bigger would be a waste.
Add details to the outline. Doing this now will help you see if you likethe shape of your mask — you can adjust it as necessary or add a detail as part of the shape of your mask.
Attaching flames or swoops onto the outline can make it more interestingand even change its shape entirely. Consider flames, swoops, hearts, stars, and geometric shapes.
Cut out the mask. Be careful! Use a good pair of scissors to prevent any snags or tears. Leave a little extra room on the sides if you are attaching a band or some type of holding device.
Trim your eyeholes much larger than the size of your actual eyes. Having more visual space is safer, more comfortable, and it tends to look better.
Mark your mask for painting. You’ll be very glad you do this — you won’t end up painting your mask and having it turn out poorly or not to your liking. Make your marks light; you don’t want to see them through your paint. Creating a design for the surface of the mask might include multiple colors and textures. Sketching those outlines ahead of time will allow you to maintain symmetry.
Paint your mask. Take care as you hold it; if your fingers touch the wet paint you could smear it (or get it on your clothes). Paint on several coats to get a rich hue.
The choice of color is a personal one, but traditional colors include deep reds and metallics. Use a small paintbrush to ensure clean lines.
Allow the paint to dry fully. Be patient — this could take a while. Set it on a covered surface in an open area and leave it be.
Depending on the type of paint you used, this could take up to 4 hours.
Glue on your extras. This is totally up to you, but do consider weight, bulk, and tackiness. Too many embellishments will leave your mask looking overdone.
Masquerade masks are traditionally loud and flashy, so adding materialssuch as rhinestones, glitter and colorful feathers is normal. Stick with your originally planned theme and don’t overcrowd the surface.
Paint and adorn your dowel to match your mask. If you don’t have a dowel, you can use chopsticks, a firm straw, or a very carefully rolled up piece of card.
Feathers are the traditionally adornment to a dowel, but you can use strings of pearls, leaves, or any embellishment you see fit.
Adhere the handle to the backside of the mask. The easiest way to do this will be with a hot glue gun, though other methods will work, too. The position of the handle is unimportant. Some masquerade masks have handles coming from the middle, others have it from either side, and some masks have no handle at all.
Allow the glue to dry fully. Hold the dowel in position for 30 seconds to make sure it’s secure and in place. If it moves at all, apply more glue. Wave around your mask a bit — if it seems sturdy, you’re done!
With Tulle or Sheer Fabric
Print out your template. With this method, you can print out a template that has a great amount of detail. It will take longer, but you’ll be able to include as much detail as you’d like.
Place it on the table. Clear a space much wider than the paper on your surface.
Tape a piece of plastic wrap over the template. Make sure it’s covered on all sides and the template can’t move around underneath.
If you seem to be having issues, tape the edges of the template down to the table, too.
Tape tulle over the plastic wrap. It should be much bigger on all sides than your template. It does not have to be perfectly centered; it just has to be bigger.
If you don’t have tulle, you can use sheer fabric. Know that tulle is stiffer and easier to work with it.
Trace the template with fabric paint. For your first mask, you may want to stick to one color. Be careful not to rest the edge on your hand on the template, smearing the paint.
If you do use more than one color, be aware that the colors may run a bit together where they meet.
Let it dry overnight.
Cut out the mask. Gently peel the tulle off the table, making sure everything is dry first. Carefully cut out the edges of the mask and the eyeholes.
Attach ribbon to the edges. Cut two pieces of ribbon 20″ each. Spread a little fabric glue on the tips and attach them to the mask. Let dry 1-2 hours.
You can trim the strands shorter if you like, just make sure it will tie around your head before cutting!
Put petroleum jelly over the to-be-masked area on your face. Be generous — if you miss an area, it may hurt when you’re taking it off.
This method will not pull out your eyebrows. Just be liberal with your application of the petroleum jelly; you’ll be thankful you did.
Start forming your mask. Cut and wet your strips of plaster and make an ‘X’ on your face. Place the first two strips diagonally across the bridge of your nose.
Apply strips until you have attained the shape of the mask you want. Take extra care around your eyes — leave a little more room than you need.
Smooth out all the pieces as you put them on. You’ll want a smooth base to design later on.
Take off the mask. You’ll have to wait for it to dry first, though. When it starts to become itchy, that’s when you know it’s ready.
Loosen up the mask by scrunching your face over and over. The movement of your face and the jelly will slowly ease the mask off the form of your face.
Add shape to the mask. This step is completely optional — if you’re happy with the shape of your mask now, move onto decorating. But if you’d like to add a bit more, go on ahead!
If you’d like to add ears or any other shape, cut it out from a piece of card and glue on. Attach more plaster on and around it until it’s smooth and allow it to dry.
Attach a dowel. The most accessible way to do this is with a disposable chopstick. Glue it on and place plaster strips over the tip. Smooth over. Any stick-like object will do. When you’re finished attaching the dowel, allow it to dry overnight.
Break out the sandpaper. Start grinding away to smooth the rough areas. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but this will remove the grainy, granular look of the plaster.
Wipe the dust off with a cloth and spray with a coat of clear paint to seal. Let it dry.
Start painting. Here’s where you get to do just about whatever you want. It may be wise to stick to one color. Most masquerade masks employ only one color scheme.
Once you’re done painting, you may want to include a top coat of glitter spray. It adds a nice, finishing touch.
Add your embellishments. They’ll cover the tip of your dowel and make your mask look professional and stylish.
Think about bows, feathers, ribbon, and jewels. And definitely think about combinations!
You can purchase plain plastic face masks at many craft stores, which would allow you to skip having to create a mask with paper.
Adding too many details to the mask’s outline can make it difficult to cut out.
Stay calm if you mess up. It takes a while to get it right.
Painting the inside of the mask can help to prevent the paper from warping or curling.
If the mask is too flimsy with the thickest paper, trace the mask onto cardboard and glue it to the back.
Some paints can irritate the skin. Be aware of the types of paint you’re using and the proximity to your skin.
Things You’ll Need
With Paper or Card
With Tulle or Sheer Fabric
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Sources and Citations