Stylized papier-mache smiling skull mask painted gold, red, and black.

Primary materials: Papier-mache, acrylic paint.

This is a test mask I made during the later stages of another project. I wanted something I could experiment on to figure out how to attach straps to papier-mache, and for painting. Also, after having spent a lot of time on a project that still wasn’t finished, I wanted to make something small enough that I’d have the satisfaction of a finished piece.

I usually don’t do skull faces because I think they’re kind of cliché at this point, but that may be why this popped into my mind when I was sculpting without a design in mind. As the face emerged I thought it would be whimsical to give it a big smile. I had recently seen pictures of Ultron for the first time (this was way before the movie) and liked the smiling look.

Right side of skull mask. Flame-like tendrils of black paint grow forward from its back edges.

This is my first and currently only papier-mache mask that is fully painted. It has two strips of aluminum screwed inside to act as anchors for straps. They’re pretty strong and I’m not concerned about them getting ripped out. It probably needs a third anchor at the top to help with stability and weight distribution, though.

I never made proper straps for this, but instead used strips of a T-shirt. To get the mask to stay on the face, the strips need to be cinched very tightly. Because I didn’t include room for the wearer’s nose, this can be a bit uncomfortable. This would be a great mask for someone with no nose. The issue could also be fixed by gluing in some foam padding, adding the third anchor, and making real straps.

Although not the biggest, fanciest, or most comfortable thing I’ve made, this represents an important step forward in completing projects and learning how to make them wearable.