How to Make a Wooden Mask

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Many cultures have pursued the tradition of mask making throughout history for both artistic and ritual purposes. There are limitless possibilities and styles to choose from when creating your own wooden masks. They can be decorated with paint, feathers, carving or a combination of all these elements. Power tools are helpful in creating the initial wood cutout and should be used under supervision. Forethought into where the mask will go helps you harmonize the style of the location with the decorations used on the mask.

Things You'll Need

  • Sketch of desired mask Wood Saw (preferably electric) Drill (preferably electric) Assorted size chisels or carving knives Painting materials (optional) Feathers (optional) Glitter (optional) Other decorations Wood carving tool (optional) Wood glue
  • Make a sketch on paper of what you would like the finished mask to look like. Find inspiration by researching the designs of different cultures throughout history.

  • Cut the wood to the desired size and shape shown in the sketch you've made. A soft grain wood will be easier to carve and work with. Particle board is not recommended unless you plan to paint the entire mask.

  • Drill holes for any eye, nose, or mouth cutouts. Drill any other holes desired according to the sketch.

  • Carve any desired designs in the wood. You may want to use chisels to create a curved surface on the wood. This must be done very intricately and will add enormous depth to the finished mask. Carving takes practice, so be patient with yourself and practice before working on the final piece.

  • Paint the wood with the designs designated in the sketch. Do not limit yourself to the original design as wood has its own grains and patterns that might inspire a change in the design.

  • Attach other decorations such as feathers and glitter according to the predetermined layout. Again the individual wood used will have different patterns in color that may lend to a change in the original plan. Be creative in this step, adding any elements that will look good with your particular piece of wood.

Tips & Warnings

  • Use all-weather materials if the mask will be placed outdoors. If working with children, assist them in the cutting and drilling portions of making the mask.
  • Use caution when operating saws and drills.

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