How To Make an African Mask

Masks have always been a very important part of our culture.  They serve many purposes, from portraying characters to warding off evil spirits. There are few masks that can compare to the uniqueness of an African mask.  I am going to show you how to make an African mask so that you, too, can play a part in this heritage which reaches so deeply into the history of this planet.

Before you start making your African mask, you will need to make sure that you have the necessary supplies.  First, go to your local hardware store and pick up a small sheet of wood veneer.  While you are out and about, go ahead and make a quick stop to the art store and buy a colored mat board and some paint.  You will also need a hobby knife, newspaper, glue, and a few random supplies that you may have found while taking a walk, such as feathers, foil, or beads.

  • The first step is to study various masks from different cultures; this way, you can get a visual image in your head of what you want your mask to look like.
  • Draw a design for your mask that is twice as wide as the veneer, but make sure that it is not longer than the veneer from top to bottom.
  • Draw a line down the middle of the design, making sure that the line evenly divides the left and right sides.
  • Cut the piece in two and then carefully cut out the shape of the mask from the paper design.
  • Place the mask shape over the back side of the veneer, so that only half of the mask rests on it.
  • Trace the outline onto the piece of veneer and then cut the shape out of it.
  • Flip the shape over so that its outline meets the reverse of the outline in the middle.
  • Use your knife to cut the mouth, nose, and ears and line them up.  The face of the mask should now be two parts, one half made with wooden veneer and the other with paper showing.
  • Arrange the different pieces however you wish and then glue them down.
  • After the glue dries, decorate the mask with all of the different objects that you picked up, like beads and feathers.

Display your creation and take pride in the fact that you have proven that you can make an African mask.


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