Paintbrush painting mask of face


Mask-making can be both a powerful and tension-releasing avenue for self-exploration and self-expression. Mask-making can be a way to allow unexpected sides of yourself to emerge, or embrace those parts of yourself you have yet to befriend.

Types of Masks

There are a wide variety of approaches to mask-making. The type of mask you choose to make will depend on what you want to explore and express. Here are some ideas for your consideration:

Inner and out self mask. Decorate both sides of the mask: the outside is the face you show to the world; the inside represents the private you.

Duality mask. Express an inner conflict through your mask with a half-and-half, divided face. Inner conflict shows itself as a lack of consistency between what you feel and think or between what you say and do.

Feeling mask. Make a mask that expresses an emotion with which you are uncomfortable or find hard to trust; or express an emotion you would like to heal or release. Creating a feeling mask provides a way to explore the uncomfortable emotions that arise out of grief and loss.

Fantasy mask. Create a mask conveying a part of yourself you would like to develop or the person you would like to become/be. Making a fantasy mask is an opportunity to temporarily take on a new persona as a way of improving your self-confidence.

Supply List

All supplies can either be purchased at your local craft store or online; common household items such as magazine photos, crayons, markers, paper bags, etc. can also be used. Let your imagination be your guide.

Mask Form Options

Premade plastic face mask forms can be found at local or online craft stores
Note: A dinner-size paper plate (a great children’s option) or a brown paper grocery store bag can also be used to make a mask by cutting out holes for the eyes and mouth. The below directions are for using a premade mask form; the directions can also be used as a general guideline for decorating any type of mask.

Additional Supply Options

  • Glues: Mod podge glue for adhering paper, tissue paper or fabric scraps and light-weight items; a strong glue for adhering heavier decorative elements
  • A ½ inch paintbrush to apply mod podge; other small paintbrushes for applying paint
  • To decorate the mask base: colored tissue, pieces of fabric, construction paper, magazine images, stickers
  • To decorate the mask base – additional options: acrylic paints or color markers
  • Finishing decorative elements: trinkets, feathers, yarn, leaves, etc. or any other item that appeals to you or has personal meaning

Decorating Your Premade Mask Form

There is no right or wrong way to decorate your mask. To decorate your mask form you can paint or use color makers directly on the mask form. To cover your mask with fabric, tissue paper, or construction paper, follow these directions:

  1. Cut or tear tissue paper, construction paper, or fabric into ½ inch by 2-inch strips. Then...
  2. Put a thin coat of mod podge on a section of your mask; place overlapping paper or fabric stripes on top of the mod podge and then apply more mod podge over the adhered stripes of paper or fabric. Do this until the entire mask is covered and coated with mod podge.
  3. Either as the mask is drying or when the mask is dry, apply additional decorative elements such as paint, yarn, feathers, or other trinkets and embellishments with either mod podge (light-weight items) or a stronger glue (heavier items).

Now that your mask is complete:

  1. Name her/him.
  2. Let your mask speak to you in the first person by answering the questions:
    “I am…”
    “I feel…”
    “I want…”
  3. Display your mask in a place where you can view it periodically over the next week or longer. Look at the above questions again; write on any topic that may come up. Honor the parts of you that this mask represents in any way that feels right.

To learn more about mask-making, read The Healing Power of Art (Part 2): Mask-making on the Remembering A Life Blog.

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