Hand-held Mask Project

Materials and Tools

  1. Poster board, dual metallic finish (gold/silver), standard size (22"x28") cut in half to make two 14"x22" masks
  2. Colored constuction paper
  3. White craft glue
  4. Scissors
  5. Hand-held stapler
  6. Cardboard rod from clothes hanger
  7. Tape (transparant or masking)
  8. Pencil
  9. Ruler
  10. Super #77 spray adhesive (optional for backing, can be used instead of white glue)

Mask Making Guidelines Using Guidelines

With pencil and ruler, lightly draw guidelines on poster board, dividing into four equal quadrants (see A.) Sketch features over guidelines, placing eyes, nose and mouth along the vertical and horizontal lines as shown in B. Make sure to draw lighthly as these lines will be erased later.

The Nose

To make the nose, cut a rectangular piece of poster board about 1/2 inch longer than the nose in your sketch, then fold piece in half lengthwise. (Practice making noses with plain paper first, until you are happy with the results.) Mask Making the NoseThe nose is basically a triangle; the broader the nose, the wider the base of your triangle. Determine the length of your triangle's base, then cut (away from the fold) in a straight line hom the base to the top of the tiangle (see C). Refine shape of nose to suggest nostrils as shown in D. Run a bead of glue along sides of nose and attach over sketched nose on poster board, taking care not to flatten it by pressing too hard.


Eyes are made in layers, beginning with the white eyeball. Eyeballs are basically ovals with pointed ends; they can be narrow or wide, depending on how you want them to look. Eyes made from narrow ovals, for example, suggest slyness or suspicion; wide ones may give the face a look of surprise or innocence. Cut two eyeballs from a folded piece of white construction paper and glue over sketched eyes on poster board. To make the iris, fold a piece of colored construction paper in half and cut two circles--they should be slightly smaller in diameter than the height of the eyeball. Glue each iris to the center of the eyeball. To make the pupil, cut out two smaller circles from a piece of folded black construction paper and glue to center of each iris. Alternatively, the iris and pupil can be drawn on the eyebball with colored crayons or markers. Eyes can be finished in amumber of ways. They could be outlined in dark crayon or marker to suggest lashes, or individual lashes could be drawn on. Lashes may also be fringe-cut from construction paper and glued to top and bottom of eyes. To give the eyes added detail and dimension, eyelids can be made. 

Mask Making Eyelids Eyelids: An Optional Detail
(but worth the extra effort)

To make eyelids, cut identical half-circles hom a folded piece of poster-board or colored construction paper (the diameter of the half-circle should be a little longer than the eyeball.) To give the eyelid a more natural appearance, cut a soft are in the half-circle's straight edge-the higher the arc, the more open the eye appears (see E.) If desired, glue a fringe of lashes cut from construction paper to the underside of the bottom edge of eyelid. When glue is set, curl friage up and over eyelid (lashes may be trimmed and feathered to look more natural.) Gently curl each eyelid between thumb and index finger, then apply bead of glue to curved edge and set above eye, holding in place until glue sets.

Mask Making Eyebrows and Ridges Eyebrows and Ridges

To make eyebrows, out identical shapes from folded piece of poster board. Score each eyebrow as shown in F and bend along scored line. Scoring is a great way to give three-dimensional qualities to a flat piece of paper. This is done by drawing a line across the paper with the point of the scissors. The line should be visibly incised, but the scissors should never cut all the way through the paper. Apply glue to edgw of eyebrows and set in place. When dry, eyebrows can be colored in with marker or crayon. Color only the upper half, above the scored line--the lower half; below the scored line, represents the brow ridge and should remain the same color as the face.

Mask Making the Mouth The Mouth

To make the mouth, cut upper and lower lips from construction paper. Score the upper and lower lips as shown in G and bend along scored line (make cuts in upper lip as shown before bending.) If the mouth is to appear slightly open, draw a thick line with a black marker where the interior ofthe mouth will show and glue the lips in place above and below this line, overlapping it slightly. Make teeth fiom white construction paper, if desired. Glue teeth in place first, and then glue lips in desired position over teeth When gluing lower lip, take care not to flatten the scored edge by pressing down too hard.

Mask Making Shaping the face Shaping the Face

The chin is formed by cutting an inch-long slit at the the bottom of the poster board along vertical guideline. Overlap the two sections and staple together (see H.) Use scissors to cut away the square edges of the poster board, creating the jaw line. If a more angular, masculine chin is desired, cut two inch-long slits equidistant from the vertical guideline but not wider apart than the corners of the mouth. Overlap the sections and staple together, using scissors to shape the jaw line. To shape the forehead and add rigidity to the mask, cut two inch-long slits at the top of the poster board about 4 1/2" on either side of the vertical guide line (see I.) Overlap the sections and staple together. Round the corners of the poster board with scissors and shape the head as desired. 


There are a variety of ways to make hair out of construction paper. Layers of fringed paper can be glued along the hairline and curled over a pencil, then trimmed and feathered to create the desired 'style'. Long curls can be made by cutting individual strips, curling around a pencil and gluing to the back of the mask along the hairline Instead of paper, try using yarn or string; cut pieces of rope and unravel the strands. One student made frizzy gray hair using tufts of steel wool--brilliant! Indulge your creativity--the possibilities are endless.

Symbols and Emblems

The Olympian gods and goddesses were associated with a number of symbols and emblems. On posterboard, design a headdress or crown using symbols appropriate to the god or goddess your mask represents. Cut out designs, score, bend and attach as desired.

Finishing Touches

To comp1ete the mask, attach the cardboard rod from a clothes to the back with masking tape (see K.) Brush glue on large sheet of black construction paper and apply to the back of the mask, covering it entirely and concealing the rod and tape. This gives the mask a neat, finished appearance.


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