How to Make Your Own African Mask


African masks are beautiful works of art with interesting shapes and images. When exploring African history, heritage or artwork, or if you simply love to incorporate African designs in your home decor, making a mask is an easy project that can produce great results. You can wear it at a festival or hang it on your wall.

Things You'll Need

  • Oval balloon
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/4 cup white craft glue
  • Brown butcher paper
  • Scissors
  • Craft paints
  • Craft paint brushes
  • Spray acrylic sealer
  • Look at art museums or check on the Internet for African masks to get ideas and to be inspired. Check out the various styles and methods of mask making so that you will be knowledgeable when you begin creating your own mask.

  • Blow up the oval balloon to the desired size of your mask. Tie it off and set it aside.

  • Add the flour, water and glue in an old container. Stir it until all the ingredients are incorporated and you have a nice, smooth paste.

  • Cover your work area with a drop cloth or newspapers. Rip or cut brown butcher paper into strips, approximately 1 to 2 inches wide and in varying lengths.

  • Hold your balloon in front of you. Dip a strip of butcher paper into the paste and remove the excess by running it through your fingers. Lay it on the balloon. Continue dipping strips and laying it on the balloon until you have covered the front of the balloon in a mask shape that you like.

  • Continue layering on the butcher paper until the mask is several layers thick. This will help it be sturdy when it dries. Leave open areas for eye holes or a mouth hole if you desire.

  • Build up any sections that you want to be bulkier, such as for features like lips, a nose or the brow ridge, or if you would like areas to have what look like carvings or raised designs.

  • Set your balloon with the mask form aside to dry overnight. When it is dry, pop the balloon and discard it. Use a scissor to trim the mask if necessary, and use a fine nail scissor to trim around eye, nose or mouth holes. Punch holes with a scissor on the sides of the mask if you will be wearing it.

  • Add any decorations to your mask form, such as horns or teeth. Make the shapes from paper and glue them to your mask.

  • Paint your mask with craft paints and paint brushes. Paint designs onto your mask, either by copying those on authentic masks or making up your own. Add raffia or dried grass, if you like, to create hair.

  • Allow your mask to dry thoroughly. Take your mask outdoors and lay it on the ground or on a drop cloth. Spray it with an acrylic spray sealer to protect it. Allow it to dry overnight

  • Add string or ribbon if you plan on wearing your mask by threading it through the holes on the side.

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  • Photo Credit antodesign
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