Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

Manning Makes Stuff - Halloween decorations, paper mache masks, costumes, party ideas, and more

New Orleans Devil Man mask — the sequel!


Published by Manning on November 4th, 2019

I made a mask of the New Orleans Devil Man back in 2015 for my “Voodoo Bayou” Halloween party. I no longer have that mask, but I made another similar one this year because I’ll be in New Orleans for Halloween and I wanted to reprise the costume. I wasn’t trying to make the same exact mask again; I figured I’d just start over and include a lot of the same elements, but let the style go in different directions as I work on it.

New Orleans Devil Man mask

New Orleans Devil Man mask - plastic mask for the base

I started with the cheapest plain face mask I could buy online, just to have a nice comfortable wearable shape to start with; this is a huge shortcut! I used this mask as a mold for my paper maché.

New Orleans Devil Man mask - building the nose

I covered the eye holes with masking tape on both sides, and I built a simple pointy nose shape out of two triangles of craft foam that I taped in place. I covered all of this with lots of masking tape to help stabilize everything.

New Orleans Devil Man mask - paper mache

I then applied seven layers of paper maché over the nose and the top half of the face, using tiny strips of paper to get a really smooth surface. Here’s some info about my paper maché process and materials. The short version is: I use Roman PRO-543 universal wallpaper adhesive and alternating layers of newspaper and brown wrapping paper.

New Orleans Devil Man mask - paper mache finished

I didn’t worry about the shape of the bottom edge of the paper maché; I just let it be bigger than I needed so I could trim it later on.

When all that paper maché was 100% dry, I carefully removed the plastic mask, the craft foam nose, and all that tape.

I trimmed the outer edge of the mask with scissors, and I cut out the eye holes with an X-acto knife. I then reinforced all the cut edges with tiny pieces of paper maché; just one layer.

Making the horns

Time for the fun part! For the horns, I started with basically the same techniques as I did on my old Devil Man mask, but instead of wrapping string around the horns for texture, I decided to try using strips of craft foam.

New Orleans Devil Man mask - cutting out the horns

To make the base of the horns, I drew and cut the shapes out of foam board, and then I cut up lots of pieces of foam pipe insulation tubing and taped them in place to round out the shapes and make them 3D. I covered all this with lots of masking tape.

New Orleans Devil Man mask - craft foam on the horns

I cut out three long strips of craft foam, about 3/4″ wide, and taped them together into one long strip. I taped one end at the tip of a horn, and I carefully wrapped the strip onto the horn, taping it in place as I went.

I realized at the very beginning of this process that the strip didn’t want to wrap around the tip of the horn nicely. I solved this problem by cutting a small notch in the strip right near the point, to let it close up on itself a bit more. Hard to explain; sorry I didn’t take a pic of that! Anyway, the rest of the strip wrapped around the horn very nicely. Craft foam is great for this kind of job because it’s very flexible so it’ll take on the curves of the shape you’re wrapping it onto, and also it has great friction so the pieces really hold onto each other where you overlap them. To help this a bit I added some pieces of tape here and there as I went.

When the foam strip reached the base of the horn, I taped it in place and then trimmed off the excess foam.

When the horn shapes were done, I covered them in two layers of super tiny pieces of paper maché.

New Orleans Devil Man mask - attaching the horns

When the paper maché was dry, I hot-glued the horns in place on my mask, and then covered over the connection points with two layers of paper maché.

Making the mask wearable

To make the mask wearable, I used the same elastic string that came with the plastic face mask I used at the start of this project.

New Orleans Devil Man mask - poking holes for the string

I poked two holes in each side of the mask with an awl. I then reinforced the area around the holes with some pieces of plastic from some sort of laminated advertising junk I saved. I put a thin strip of plastic inside the mask in front of the holes, to prevent the string from tearing through there, and another thin strip of plastic between the holes, to prevent them from tearing together into one big hole. I hot-glued these plastic bits in place with tiny drops of hot glue, and then I covered over these areas with paper maché. I didn’t worry about covering over the holes, since I could easily poke the awl through them again.

When the paper maché was dry, I slipped the string through the holes and tied it in the back — I tied it loosely for now in case I wanted to adjust it later.

I then covered over the exposed string in the front of the mask with two layers of paper maché.

Mustache

To make the mustache, I started with some scrap pasteboard, which I covered in masking tape on both sides to make it a little more sturdy, and then I drew and cut out the mustache shape with scissors. I wrapped this shape in two layers of tiny strips of paper maché, making it nice and thick and solid.

I attached the mustache to the mask at the very end of this project; that’s coming up.

Flowers

Just like for my old Devil Man mask, I bought fake flowers from the dollar store to use for this mask. Whenever you wanna glue fake flowers onto something flat, you’ll run into this annoying problem where the back side of the flower is way too long and pointy; the petals tape toward the back and fit into this little cone-shaped plastic thing with the wire running through it. So it’s impossible to glue the flowers down flat onto anything. And if you snip off the plastic cone part with wire cutters, the whole flower falls apart! Anyway, this time I decided to do exactly that, and then glue the flowers back together. I cut through the plastic and wire and pulled the layers of petals apart, and I set them down in order. I discarded the plastic and wire bits, and then I then used tiny drops of hot glue to glue the petals back together, nice and relatively flat.

New Orleans Devil Man mask - modifying fake flowers

In the pic above, there are two finished flowers at the top left and one at the bottom right; they’re all sitting flat on my countertop because they no longer have the plastic and wire bits in the back. You can see one other flower that still has the stem and leaves and junk; it’s laying on its side. And at the very top edge of the pic you can see the green plastic part that I pulled off the back of one of these.

Anyway, all this was easy and quick! I prepared four flowers this way to put on the mask. And I kept one with the stem intact to put in my lapel. I attached these flowers to the mask later, after everything was painted; more on that coming up.

Painting and assembly

New Orleans Devil Man mask - painting the string

I painted the elastic string by hand with black acrylic paint; I put a little bit of paint on my fingertips and then worked it into the string. Doing it this way rather than with spray paint or a paintbrush helps get the paint all the way into the string while keeping the coating of paint as light as possible so it doesn’t make the string less elastic.

I then protected the elastic string with newspaper and painter’s tape, and then I spray-painted the mask black; both interior and exterior.

I painted the front of the mask by hand with a few coats of acrylic paint — green for the face part, and a mixture of red and orange for the nose. I used some black here and there to create shadows.

I cut out a few pieces of black craft foam and hot-glued them at key points inside the mask, to make it a little more comfortable. I found that adding two layers of craft foam inside the top of the nose helped it sit on my face a lot more comfortably. I also put two little pieces just under the eyes and one across my brow; all this helped too.

I painted the mustache black, and attached it under the nose with a piece of wire and some hot glue.

I attached the fake flowers to the mask with my hot glue gun.

New Orleans Devil Man mask - finished!

This thing is done! Check it out!

New Orleans Devil Man mask

Happy Halloween! See you for next year’s Halloween projects starting around… June or so!

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