February is carnival time and Rio, the Caribbean Islands, New Orleans, and Venice are all celebrating. This project involves making some great paper mâché masks, inspired by the centuries-old celebration in Venice.
Most of these supplies can be purchased at dollar stores. Masks can be found at party supply shops and art supply stores. I found a good selection of plain, plastic masks at ‘It’s My Party’ if you’re in Toronto.
- plastic half mask, with elastic removed (This site shows a photo of the mask that is ideal for this project: http://www4.shopping.com/-White+Half+Mask)
- masking tape
- coloured popsicle stick
- white paper towels and newspaper, torn into strips
- white glue and water
- paint brushes
- glue gun
- glitter glue
1. Begin by having a look at the following websites to get an idea of what Venetian Carnival masks look like, and click here for a bit of background about the carnival.
2. Once you have decided on the features you would like to add to your basic mask, cut these shapes out of cardboard and attach them with masking tape. Have a look at my photos above to see what some children came up with.
3. Attach a coloured popsicle stick to the side so you can hold the mask up to your face when completed.
4. When doing paper mâché, I find it easier to alternate between layers of newpaper and white paper towels (the folded kind you typically find in office washrooms, available at stores like Staples). This helps you keep track of when you have completed a layer. For this project, 3 layers should be plenty so you can start with one layer of paper towel, followed by a second layer of newspaper, and a final layer of paper towel. It’s always better to make the last layer with white paper towels because your paint will be brighter without having to prime the surface with white paint. Also, make sure you tear your strips because the edges will work better than cut pieces.
5. Your paper mâché paste should be approximately ¾ white glue to ¼ water. Dip your strips in the paste and make sure to remove any excess before adding to your mask. Once you have completed your 3 layers, leave until completely dry before painting. This can take several days depending on the humidity levels where you are.
6. Whether you use tempera, gouche or acrylic is up to you. I tend to prefer acrylic paint, but keep in mind it is very difficult to remove from clothing. I keep old t-shirts around for children to wear when using them.
7. Once your paint has dried, you can use a glue gun to attach feathers and ribbons. Glitter glue also adds a nice touch.