How to Make a Papier Mache Vejigante Mask

Covered with a brightly-coloured papier mache face with horns, masked Vejigantes form a classic part of traditional Puerto Rican culture and festivals. Comical (but slightly frightening) masked characters wearing winged costumes, Vejigantes have been used to embody a variety of symbols throughout the ages, depending on the times and the celebration. At times the devil, and at times a rebel against colonialism and imperialism, the roles El Vejigante plays have changed throughout the ages, but the distinguishing feature – the mask – remains the same.

Things Required:

– Craft paper
– White paste
– Fast-drying glue
– Aluminium foil
– Masking tape
– Cardboard paper
– Scissors
– White primer
– Acrylic paint

Instructions

  • 1

    To begin, you will need to acquire a mould of the face of the person you are designing the mask for – in order to obtain this, you will need to use aluminium foil. Start by cutting out a square of foil that is bigger than the head of the subject, and then press this onto the wearer’s face. Using your fingers, mould the foil as per the features on the person’s face, pressing it in all over, so that you get a perfect impression of your subject’s face.

  • 2

    Next, remove the foil from the wearer’s face, and cover both sides of the foil impression with masked tape. This is a process that requires careful and delicate execution, as foil is very malleable, and you could easily lose the impressions and features on the mould.

  • 3

    Once it has been covered with masking tape, the foil mould will become slightly more solid and substantial. Then, you can use a pair of small, sharp, pointed scissors, to cut out eye and mouth holes on the mould – use the impressions as your guide for finding the right spots for these holes.

  • 4

    Now that the base of the mask is done, you will need to attach horns. To do this, cut a wide triangle out of cardboard, roll it into a cone, and then secure it with masking tape. Glue the base of this onto the desired spot on the mould, using strong, fast-drying glue, and secure it further by taping it to the mask too. Repeat for more horns, if you wish.

  • 5

    After this is done, you will need to cover the entire thing in layers of papier mache. Tear craft paper into small pieces, and mix it with white paste in a bucket in order to make papier mache. Then, use this to cover the entire mask and horns, with as many layers are you feel are necessary – one to two should be enough. Allow the mask to air dry until it is fully hardened and set before you move onto the next step.

  • 6

    Finally, paint the entire mask in a base layer of white primer. Once this dries, you can paint on any designs and patterns you wish, using acrylic paints. Allow these to dry completely, and once they do, your papier mache Vejigante mask is ready for use.

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