Forest Maiden Paper Mache Mask

In the past, when working on paper mache projects, I’ve always made small paper mache items, but I’ve always wanted to try making a large paper mache mask. I thought about the many different style masks I’ve seen on television, in books and at museums. I drew several rough sketches on paper and finally decided to try and make an abstract mask that looked like a forest maiden with leaves for hair.

I found a large piece of masonite board in the garage that I thought would be a perfect size base for my mask. I dusted off the board and wiped it clean. I then gathered a stack of old newspapers and started tearing up sheets into medium size pieces (about 3 to 6 inch pieces). I continued until I had a large pile of torn newspaper pieces. I then made the paper mache paste using flour and water – with a dash of salt as a preservative.

I took some of the larger newspaper pieces and started soaking them into the paste mixture. I first started the mask with the face by placing some of the bigger soaked chunks down on the board. Once I started forming the face, I started to place smaller soaked pieces on top of the base pieces by laying them on as smoothly as possible.

Once I formed a shape resembling a pleasing face, I worked on building up the forehead, the eyebrow areas and then the cheek bones. I rolled and soaked several torn pieces together and placed those large soaked pieces in the area where the nose would go and then did the same with the mouth, which I decided to make slightly open. I then worked on the hair, which I tried as closely as possible to resemble leaves. It is an abstract piece that measures 16 inches in length and 14-1/2 inches wide (the board measures 24 inches by 24 inches). Once I felt it was done, I was very pleased with the entire piece.

Although I started this project on a weekend, I let it dry thoroughly for a week before I primed it with a coat of gesso. The piece is primed and ready to be painted or even embellished with pieces of fabric, beads, small found objects or leftover jewelry pieces, but that will be the next project. I really enjoyed making this mask, and although I used old newspapers, you can always use magazines or any kind of scrap paper to make this project. You can use craft paint, a color wash or patina to paint your piece or any technique you’d prefer.

Forest Maiden Paper Mache Mask Before Primer

Forest Maiden Paper Mache Mask Primered with Gesso.

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