Nonphenomenal Lineage

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Paper Mache Donkey Mask Blog

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Me wearing donkey mask
Me, wearing my comic-themed costume of Donkey Mask and Fox Shirt.

I made a paper-mache (papier-mâché for you purists) donkey mask for my Halloween costume that I am very proud of. I took pictures of the process of making it, and am going to post it here, so if you want to be cool and make one, you can too.

Stuff you need:

Crazy hair-brained idea for mask you can’t find in store, or, like me, are broke and need a Halloween costume or your friends will make fun of you. Yep, this is pretty cheap to make and is better than wearing that same tired Sexy Witch costume you’ve worn for three years in a row.

form (balloon or cardboard box)


white glue, and maybe wood glue if you have it


office paper (regular white printer paper, about 50 sheets)

gesso (optional but nice)

tin foil

paint and brushes

packaging tape (probably optional too, depending on how complicated you get)

some bubble wrap if you got it as well (for padding on your face)

string, elastic or silk scarf (to hold it on to your head)

Now, before I begin, most people use a balloon as a form and then pop and remove to leave a light-weight mask that’s only paper-mache. However, the shape of my mask was a bit more complicated, and I left the cardboard in side it.

Boxes used for mask base
I started with a cardboard box<

Donkey Mask Frame
I cut two long matching pieces for the head

Donkey mask frame plus nose and jaw padding
Cut some more pieces to fill out the head. I glued it all together (careful to cut some eyeholes) with Elmer’s Wood Glue, which works surprisingly well on cardboard. I left it open at the bottom and back so I could get my head into it. Try the mask around your head in this early stage to make sure you can stuff your face into it. (That’s what she said!)

Donkey mask frame plus nose and jaw padding
Donkey mask frame plus nose and jaw padding
I used some tinfoil to mold some shape, adding a jaw and muzzle. I used tape to get the tinfoil to stay on, but really, it’s so bendy that you probably don’t need tape.

Donkey Mask, sans ears
There are a lot of recipes for paper-mache that involve newspaper and salt and wheat flour, but I found a simple one that uses regular white bond office paper and a paste of half glue, half water. Very simple, and super effective. Forget the news-paper and wheat flour (except use the newspaper to do this project on, because this stuff is messy), do the glue and office paper recipe, I got it from this website, which was very helpful.

Cut the sheets of office paper into 2 inch strips. Pour one bottle of white glue (I used a knock-off of Elmer’s brand) with equal parts water, mix. Use a bowl you can throw away later, because the glue will dry on it, making it disgusting and you won’t want to eat off of it afterwards anyway.

Dip paper strips into the water-glue mix, just for a second. Take out, and wipe off excess glue. Put on form. Put 3 or four overlapping layers over the whole form. Don’t forget to criss cross the paper as you layer it, because it makes it stronger.

Donkey Mask, sans ears
Here it is after it’s dried a bit.

Donkey Mask, Paper Mache
Donkey Mask, Paper Mache
Donkey Mask, Paper Mache
I let it dry overnight and then the next day added cardboard ears and paper-mache-ed it again.

Donkey Mask, Pre-paint
Donkey Mask, pre-paint
I let it dry a few days (if you make a mask like this, you don’t need to wait that long, I just had stuff to do so I forgot about it)

Donkey Mask (sans hair and half painted)
Donkey Mask detail (half painted)
Before I started painting, it, I covered it with a coat of white acrylic gesso. If you don’t have gesso, you don’t have to do this step, but I highly recommend it, because it helps smooth over the rough edges, plus it makes it much easier to paint on later. In this stage, I have painted a dark brown over half of it.

Donkey Mask, Final
Here it is after I finished painting it, with a cream color on the snout and ears, and gray for the muzzle and nostrils.

My very own hair, Extra Creepy!
Also, added bonus: I got my hair cut last weekend, and I got a bunch cut off, so I just kept it and glued it to the donkey for a mane. A little creepy, but way effective.

Holes in back of mask for lacing.
Holes I installed to be able to lace the silk scarf to hold the behemoth to my head
Now, to get it to stay on your head, you can use elastic string and staple a piece to your mask in traditional paper-mask fashion. However, if your mask is frikkin’ heavy like mine, do this: Drill some holes on either side of the back edge of the mask (I used a swiss army knife on my keychain cause it was handy) and then stick a sharpie or a pen through them and twist it around to make a nice, even circular hole. I coated the holes with paint to seal the edges and make them dull and smooth, so the scarf I threaded through it wouldn’t snag.

Then I took a long scarf and threaded it through the back of the mask like a shoelace (I bored three holes on each side) and then was able to lace it up around the back of my head which worked really nicely. But I’m sure you could use string too.

Mask from back
I ended up stuffing it with a bunch of bubble wrap so that it would fit properly on my head. You can see some of the green bubbles poking through in my original photo at the top.

Overall, it was a thoroughly satisfying project and I highly recommend doing it. It was fun and cheap and everyone loved it at the party I wore it to (or at least they said they did!).

PS: Why did I choose donkey? I have a comic (that I’ve been neglecting) but it’s going to be all about donkeys. My friend Justin is writing it and am drawing it.Here is the first page (click).

Currently listening to The Shepherd’s Dog by Iron & Wine (over and over)


Written by pocheco

October 23, 2007 at 5:56 am

Posted in Uncategorized

One Response

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  1. Cute, looks like the Donkey from “Scream”

    Karl Nichols

    November 3, 2007 at 1:37 am

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