Make your own Masks

 Making Plaster masks for Mardi Gras:

Plaster masks can give you something unique to wear to any masquerade party! Molded to any shape you desire, you're only limited by your own imagination.

You will need:

  • plaster bandages (found at drugstores or hospital supply stores - used to use for casts)
  • large sheet or tarp
  • vaseline
  • bowl of water
  • scissors
  • scarf or hairband to hold hair back
  • molding paste
  • any decoration to attach to mask while forming
  • acrylic paints, hot glue gun, etc for decorating
You will need at least two people for this project. First, draw out ideas for your mask. You will want to have an idea in mind before your start forming the mask. Will you want a half mask or a full mask? Will your mask be just the shape of your face, or will you want to add horns, warts, enlarged forehead or eyebrows? Will you want to blend decorations like beads or feathers into the mask while you're forming it? Have all items handy so you don't have to search around for them.

Spread the sheet or tarp on the floor and have one person lie flat in the center of it. You'll want to be comfortable, since you'll be lying still for a period of time. Wrap the hairband or scarf around hair to hold it away from face. Vaseline face thoroughly, especially eyebrows and edges of hair. This will prevent the plaster from sticking to skin or hair.

Cut pieces of bandage to cover the largest areas of skin first, the forehead and cheeks. Dip bandage pieces in bowl of water and place on face, smoothing out any wrinkles as you go. Fold/turn under the edges of bandage that will be on the outside of your mask. Do the chin next, and then the nose, using smaller pieces to fit the flattest areas of skin. Overlap pieces slightly, adding smaller pieces to fill in the spaces. Slowly and carefully build shape. Once you have a solid base layer you can begin to form any special shape you desire. If you'll be using special decorations, place beads or jewels or paper plates on the mask and secure with small pieces of plaster. You can even completely cover a piece of paper plate with plaster bandages.

The subject will be able to feel the mask contracting as it dries. You will want to keep a wet washcloth handy to moisten the mask if it gets too dry too quickly. Be careful not to get plaster in the subject's eyes. If you'll be creating a full face mask, you might want to give them a straw to breath through.

For people who tend toward claustrophobia, we recommend only doing half-masks, and children under 5 probably won't be able to sit still long enough for this project.

When the mask feels sturdy (the subject will begin to feel itchy as it hardens), pull it gently off and set aside to dry fully. The mask is still fragile at this point, so don't handle it too much.

Once the mask is fully dry, you can finish smoothing it. Use a light layer of molding paste (found at art stores) to smooth out bumps and ridges. Once this dries, finish decorating your mask. Paint with acrylic for color. Attach decorations such as feathers, fur, jewels with hot glue.

To wear your mask, poke two holes near temple and attach elactic or string and tie at the back of your head. (You may need four holes, depending on how heavy the mask is.) If your full-face mask makes your face sweat and itch, try powdering your face, or line the inside of your mask with thin cotton fabric.

Your mask can express a part of your personality - if you have the patience, try holding a facial expression like a grimace, frown, or open mouthed scream while forming your mask.

Have fun!

 

Mardi Gras Mask for Kids

Materials needed:
 Different colored paints
 Glitter
 Popsicle stick (one for each mask)
 Construction paper
 Glue
 Scissors
 Feathers, pom-poms, beads, glitter, and other decorative materials

What to do:

Step One: Holding the construction paper horizontally, trace and cut out a long "figure eight." This is the shape of the mask.

Step Two: Trace and cut out two eyeholes.

Step Three: Now your child can start decorating her mask. Encourage her to be as creative as she can, using paint, feathers, etc.

Step Four: Set the mask aside to dry and paint the popsicle stick.

Step Five: When the paint is dry, glue the stick to the edge of the mask. This is the handle.

Now it's party time! Serve up some gumbo, jambalaya, and cornbread.

Don't forget to decorate! The traditional Mardi Gras colors represent justice (purple), faith (green), and power (gold). Use streamers, balloons, and confetti in these colors to create a carnival atmosphere.

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