Make a Mask From Plastic Bottles

This tutorial was originally posted on the old Goblin Art blogger website.
Restored from the archives for your enjoyment.
View or download free PDF version

Plastic jug and paper mache bird
Posted January 6, 2011

Make a mask from plastic bottles. Happy Carnival!

Tonight is Twelfth Night, the start of Carnival Season, leading up to Mardi Gras! Fat Tuesday isn't until March 8th this year, so you have eight whole weeks to make a mask and put a costume together!

Here is a method I came up with that uses little more than some plastic bottles, scrap paper and cardboard, tape and glue. The mask pictured above was in an exhibition of masks made from recycled materials that raised money for SCRAP (School and Community Reuse Action Project) in Portland, Oregon.

1. Use a sharpie to draw outline of mask on plastic bottle. I used a 1 gallon white vinegar jug for this because it offered a nice curvature.

2. Cut the mask out. I like to use heavy-duty curved scissors for this, but sharp craft or paper scissors will work if you take it slowly.

3a. Attach details to the mask with hot glue or masking tape. You can use more pieces of plastic bottle, twists of aluminium foil or paper towel, or just about any solid material you like the shape of. The eyebrow shape was cut from a plastic 1/2 gallon milk jug. The beak shown here was also cut from the milk jug, but I decided to use a different beak for final mask design.

3b. Here is the new improved beak. I drew a beak shape on a cardboard cereal box, added folds and tabs, and cut it out. I used office staples to attach the beak to the face of the mask and taped over the sharp bits. Then I added some raised ornamentation to the mask using lo-temp hot glue. Folded cardboard shapes can be used to create noses for masks too.

4. Here is the mask after I applied a paper mache layer to both the front and back. I used brown tissue paper and diluted PVA wood glue. Tear the tissue paper into small pieces (1 or 2 square inches) ahead of time. Then use a paintbrush to brush glue onto an area of the mask, pick up each piece of paper with the brush and apply, then brush a final layer of glue over everything.

5. The finished mask! I painted it with acrylic craft paint and sealed it with crystal clear spray. The back of the mask is lined with scrap foam cut into pads, covered with scrap polar fleece, and glued on with hot glue. The feathers were salvaged from a cheap feather mask that was falling apart. The elastic cord was saved from gift packaging. So besides paint, glue and staples, this mask was made from completely recycled and reclaimed materials.

Happy mask-making! And if you are in Portland, don't forget to stop by SCRAP for all sorts of interesting and affordable art and craft supplies.