The kids are listless and bored. But kids are always bored these days. The television has been turned off and the soldiers are getting restless. What to do? You’ve already beaten the boy for cutting the girls’s bangs the day before school picture day. You’ve already made sock puppets and paper plate crafts, so where do you go from here? Get ready to make Mexican Day of the Dead masks, or sugar skulls. These plaster of paris creations are a fun, easy way to make crafts that last a long time as gifts or home decorations.
What you will need:
plaster of paris
drop cloth (garbage bag, butcher paper, cloth, tarp)
How To Make A Plaster Sugar Skull Mask
- Prepare: Before mixing the plaster and water get everything else in order. The plaster mix will dry quickly so everything needs to be in place to begin before you prepare the plaster and water. Lay the drop cloth down in a well lit area. The mask will be made on the face so hair needs to be pulled back with water or a hair tie. Layer the plastic wrap so that it covers the entire face, leaving a small area open for the nostrils. (Pro tip #42: If you fail to leave nose holes your model will not be able to breath. This matters. Some recipes call for straws in the nostrils but our test kitchen has found that simple holes will do fine. If you wish, you can cover up the nose holes once the mask is removed.)
- Kids: Other recipes suggest using Vaseline instead of plastic wrap. The one time we attempted this in our test kitchen the plaster still managed to stick into whiskers. It was difficult to remove but great fun to hear the screaming under the plaster. Children will not likely have whiskers but unforeseen problems may arise.
Some craft stores carry strips coated with plaster of paris. These can make things easier and less messy but they can be hard to find. None of the craft stores in our area carried them so you may have to shop online.
- Get the Gauze Ready: Cut gauze into 1″ x 5″ strips. Set them beside the models. At this point your children have plastic wrap covering their face. Anything that gets covered in plaster should be covered in plastic wrap. The more area that is covered means the bigger the mask will be. Do not go too far around the head as that will make it harder to remove the mask. (Pro Tip #29: From the time the plastic wrap goes on till the plaster is removed your children will not be able to speak. Enjoy this time of solace and work slowly. No need to rush.)
- Making the Plaster: The ratio of plaster to water is two to one. This stuff drys quickly so once it is mixed you need to work quickly. Our test kitchen found that two cups of plaster to one cup of water is a good amount with which to begin. If you run out you can always make more, but if you make too much it will begin to harden while you are working with it.
- Wrapping the Face: Make sure the mixture is completely blended. Do not leave any lumps. Dip the gauze strips into the mixture and wipe off the excess with your fingers. Lay the strips over the plastic wrap and overlap each strip afterwards. Each strip should be touching another.
Once the face has been completely covered let it dry and harden. This should take about fifteen minutes. Once the plaster is hard to the touch remove it from the face. Let it dry for twenty-four hours before painting.
What can you add to your mask to make it unique?
Cut eye holes for a mask that can be worn as a costume or add a string to the back and make a hanging wall decoration.