Mask from paper mache & a plastic bottle

This is a simple step-by-step mask-making guide I posted on the Goblin Art website back in 2011. I made the mask pictured from recycled and reclaimed material (other than paint and glue) with no leftover waste. (Scrap cardboard and the remaining plastic bottle material were recycled).

Vinegar bottles were much thicker in 2010 than in 2020. But this method could be easily adapted to use a curved piece of heavy cardboard instead. (And the hot-glue details could be skipped entirely, or substituted with string or cord dipped in white glue).

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Make a Mask from a Plastic Bottle: 

Here is a mask-making method I came up with that uses little more than a plastic bottle or two, scrap paper and cardboard, tape and glue. The mask in the pictures was part of an 2010 exhibition of masks made from recycled materials that raised money for SCRAP (School and Community Reuse Action Project) in Portland, Oregon.

Step1. 

Use a sharpie to draw outline of mask on plastic bottle. I used a 1 gallon white vinegar jug for this because it offered a nice curvature. 

Step 2.

Cut the mask out. I like to use heavy-duty curved scissors for this, but sharp craft or paper scissors will work if you take it slowly. 

Step 3. 

 Attach dimensional details to the mask with hot glue or masking tape. You can use more pieces of plastic bottle or cardboard (as pictured), twists of aluminium foil or paper towel, or just about any solid material you like the shape of. The raised eyebrow shape here was cut from a plastic 1/2 gallon milk jug. The beak shown here was also cut from the milk jug, but I decided to use a different beak for final mask design. 

And here is a side view. The dimensional shapes are taped on at a raised angle.

Step 4.

Below you can see the new improved beak. I drew a papercraft-style beak shape on a cardboard cereal box, with folds and tabs, and cut it out. I used office staples to attach the beak to the face of the mask and taped over the sharp bits. Then I added some raised ornamentation to the mask using low-temp hot glue. (Similar folded cardboard shapes can be used to create mask noses too). 

Step 5.

Below you can see the mask after I applied a paper mache layer to both the front and back. I used brown tissue paper and diluted wood glue. Tear the tissue paper into small pieces (about 1" to 2" square) ahead of time. Use smaller pieces in more detailed areas. I like to use a paintbrush to first brush glue onto an area of the mask, then I pick up each piece of paper with the tip of brush and carefully apply them one by one to the mask surface until all is covered. Then I then brush a final layer of glue over everything to seal the edges of all the pieces of paper.  I like to cover the edges and back of the mask with glued paper too, as that stops the paper on the front  from trying to peel away as it dries.

Step 6.

And here is the finished mask! I painted it with acrylic craft paint and sealed it with clear spray paint. The back of the mask is lined with scrap foam I cut into pads, covered with scrap polar fleece, and glued on with hot glue. The feathers were salvaged from a cheap feather mask that was falling apart. The elastic cord was saved from gift packaging. So besides paint, glue and staples, this mask was made from completely recycled and reclaimed materials.   

Here's wishing you happy mask-making! 

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