Kids! Paper Mache Balloon Masks

Want to make a crazy mask for Halloween? It’s easy! All it takes is a little patience (which any adult will tell you is good practice for life in general, you know CHARACTER BUILDING. Don’t roll your eyeballs at me. Don’t. Do. It.   …   Monkey).

Supplies List:

2 parts water, 1 part flour  –  mix together with a whisk, really well (get those lumps out). It should be about as thick as pancake batter, maybe a tiny bit thinner. Add more water or flour as needed.

A balloon! – blow it up to be larger than your noggin, but not so large that it feels like it could pop at any moment. We used regular helium quality balloons, but you might like to try those really large punch balloons. That could be hilarious. But of course, the bigger the balloon, the more patience required. Just sayin’.

Recycled bits and pieces – to attach to the outside of the blown up balloon, to make your basic shape.

Masking tape – to tape the bits and pieces on, of course!

News paper – both printed on, and blank (you can find blank newsprint sketch pads at art supply stores and are pretty cheap and usually fairly large). 

X-acto knife – you’ll see where it comes in. Read on.

Craft and/or latex paint – for bringing that bad boy to life, y’all!

The Process:

You may want to place your balloon in a bowl so it doesn’t roll away on you.

Tape on all of your crazy bits and pieces. Think about what you want your face to look like. Keep in mind where your actual eyes will be.  You might want to see out of this thing.

Next, mix up the flour and water in a deep bowl or bucket (if it has a lid, that’s great).  Don’t throw it out after your first layer of paper mache – you’ll need it for the next two layers (three in total). You can store it in the fridge for a few days, but not too long, unless you are conducting a science experiment.

Now it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get your hands goopy.  It’s unavoidable, so just giv’er. Try not to splatter too much, it is glue after all. Maybe do your parents a favor and put some newspaper down on the table first.  Then, place a strip of newspaper in the goop and cover it. Gently lift it up out of the goop while using your two fingers (pointer and middle) to kind of ‘squeegee’ the excess goop off. Place it anywhere on your balloon creation.  Use smaller bits of paper to get around tight spots. Make sure you criss-cross the paper. It’ll make it st

Cover your balloon COMPLETELY with 1-2 layers of torn newsprint (tear, don’t cut).  Make sure it’s smooth-ish.  Let it dry at least over night. It may take longer if you did two coats. You can also speed up the process with a hair dryer if you are in a real hurry, but, first, talk to your parents and/or your teenage sister (who might yell at you, or worse, for stealing her blow dryer). 
For your third and final layer of paper, it’s nice to do it with blank news print so that the printed stuff doesn’t bleed through your upcoming paint job.  Awesome, right?

When that layer is good ‘n’ dry and rock hard, draw an oval on the back where you want your head to fit in.

Ask and adult to help you cut it out with an x-acto knife. Those things are sharp! Your balloon will pop at this stage. Wahoo!

Don’t worry, it won’t be loud. It sort of fizzles out unceremoniously. Disappointing, some might say. 

Now looky here. It fits!  Charming, isn’t he? Big head, BIG head, BIG HEAD! Fish head? We don’t know.

Hang on to the back part of your mask that you just cut out. You could make another mask (with a string to hold it on your face) or a hat, or something way cooler that I can’t imagine right now because I’m only an adult. 

Painting!  Gather your paints and go for it.

You may not want to get any in your hair, though. 

I think we were going for something zombie/mummy-esque here.

Lemonade on tap.  Thirsty?
We aren’t quite sure this is, but  he’s got lovely teeth. The plan is to put glow sticks in the plastic cups on Halloween night. You’ll see him a mile away!  I’ll post a pic of it at the bottom afterwards if you want to come back and check it out. 
Ahh, things of, um, er – beauty?  That’s it.  Hilarious and fun, and a little bit creepy. And guess what, you’ll have made it yourself! Amazing.  
It’s your turn, go for it! 
UPDATE:  This is how the black fish head-like mask looked on Halloween night with glo-sticks inserted:

More about Julie Prescesky

Julie spends much of her time paying attention to what's happening around her. At Design Inkarnation, she's head designer, illustrator, writer and creative problem solver.

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