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  • Writer's pictureLaurie Swigart


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The construction of theatrical masks is a varied and creative process. This approach is workable for small face or half masks.

Items you will need:

- plastic face-likeness mask -- white or clear, male or female

- gauze bandages

- heavy stretch gauze bandages

- flex bond (Rosco product)

- small brush (for gluing)

- millinery or floral wire

- spring-type clothes pins

- acrylic paints of your choice

- matte knife or scissors

- anything to texture front of mask -- lace, yarn, cording, trim, nubby fabric, lightweight beads, etc.

- leather hand sewing or carpet needle

Because the glue you will be using is non-toxic you do not have to worry about harmful fumes, but you still might want to construct your mask in an open and well-ventilated room. Also, cover your working surface with newspaper or heavy craft paper to protect your table.

Steps for construction:

1. Take your plastic mask mold and cut out the eyeholes and nose breathing holes.

2. Trim away the outside of the mask to within about 2 inches of desired finished edge.

3. Start placing layers of brushed-on glue and single layers of gauze on inside of mask mold - remember to cover eye and nose holes with masking or duct tape from the front of the mask so that the glue stays on the inside.

4. Allow several hours of drying time between layers.

5. Make 4-5 gauze layers before the final one.

6. Trim the outside of the mask to fit the desired look on the face (this can be done with good craft scissors or a matte knife)

7. Place glue on the edges of the mask and clothespin millinery wire all the way around the outside of the mask. After the wire is set, cover the wire with the stretch gauze using more glue. Hold in place with clothespins.

8. Use a narrow amount of the stretch gauze to face the eyeholes as well.

9. After the facings are dry, fit the mask to the face. You might have to pad the inside of the mask for the comfort of the actor. Use foam or cotton batting.

10. Attach 1/2" elastic from sides of mask around the back of head. Another piece of elastic can be added at the top of the mask to make the mask fit more securely. (You can also sew this on using a leather handsewing needle.)

11. Paint and/or decorate mask. You can mix your paints with the flex bond and add decorations when you paint.

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