Make a Plaster Mold of your Face for Mask-making

Several years ago, my friend Jennifer and I made molds of our faces. Later, I used my mold to create my Green Man/Woman relief tile. I am going to be using the mold again soon for a mask. It was very easy to make. I’d heard horror stories of people needing to place straws in nostrils and lengthy drying times, but I experienced neither and you wouldn’t have to, either. What you will need to get is rolls of plaster bandaging. If you’ve ever broken an arm or a leg, it’s the same kind of bandaging with which your doctor made your cast. You can buy rolls of it at medical supply stores. I bought 2″ wide bandaging. If you can’t find a store that has it, you can buy it online. I made a mold of my own face, too, but you might find it easier to have someone make your mold for you, at least the first time. Steps to make your mold:

  1. Cut the plaster gauze into 4″ strips.
  2. Tie your hair back. No hair can be on your face.
  3. Spread a thin coat of petroleum jelly or  eco-alternative on the face, under the chin, and jaw line. This will allow easy removal.
  4. Lay several towels down and have the person you’re molding lie down on them.
  5. Place a bowl of water and your stack of plaster strips next to them.
  6. Now, working quickly, fully immerse a strip, pull it out, then remove excess water by running it through two fingers, like with the wringers on an old washing machine.
  7. Place the strip on the forehead, smoothing out any creases in the bandaging.
  8. Immediately immerse the next strip and continue, overlapping strips. I wanted a sturdy mold and had two layers over the entirety.
  9. Work down the whole face.
  10. When you cover the eyes, make sure you gently follow all the contours, making full contact with the skin.
  11. When you work on the nose, leave the full nostril area open, so there’s about a half-inch gap with nostrils fully exposed.
  12. Work your way down till you are just under the rim of the jaw and chin.
  13. Now, leave it dry. Warn the person that it will become warm…it’s not too hot and feels relaxing.
  14. You’ll be able to tell when it’s set. Once it’s set, work around the edges with your fingers, then lift off.
  15. Have sink, soap and towel nearby so your friend can wash off his or her face.
  16. Wipe Vaseline off the inside of the mold with a soft rag.
  17. Voila! I used mine for molding clay, but I decorated it, too, so when I’m not using it, I can hang it on a wall for decoration. I usually sew twigs and leaves around it.

Decorated Face: Mold is the concave side.

23 Comments

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23 Responses to Make a Plaster Mold of your Face for Mask-making

  1. Hi, thanks for the mold making info. It was the easiest that I found. My son has a school project and this website will be most useful. My only question is, I am confused about your line number 17. Do you mean that you apply molding clay over the mask once it’s completed or can we just paint and decorate without the molding clay being placed over the mask. Just looking for clarification before we proceed with this endeavor. Thanks for your feedback!

    • Jan

      Hi, Kathy, and thank you for writing. I’m glad you think the post is useful and it’s nice getting feedback. About your question. I made the mold of my face so I could use it as a basis for working in clay. I planned to place slabs of clay *inside* the mold, which is the true mold of my face. No clay would go on the outside or top of the mold. That said, if you don’t work with clay, you really don’t need to do anything else other than make the plaster mold, if that’s all you want. The plaster infused bandaging is thin and, even with several layers, the mold is thin yet sturdy enough to be a mask or mold that can serve only that purpose. In addition, and because of the thin strips, even though the image inside the mold is the actual reverse of one’s face, the top or the outside of the mold still looks enough like the person being molded that it doesn’t need anything more. I hope this answers your question and, if not, please write back and I’ll clarify it… Thanks again! — Jan

  2. Stellar Student

    Awesome post! Thanks so much!
    I am doing a similar project with alginate, but I was wondering:
    How do you make a mask from the mold?
    Thank you!

    • Jan

      Hi and thank you for writing, Stellar Student! Happy to oblige… The mold can, itself, be a mask. The plaster strips are thin enough and the number of layers you place on your face are few. Because this is a clay blog, I made it with the intention of placing a thin slab of clay in the concave part of the mold and creating a clay creation with it that way. I actually haven’t gotten around to doing that yet! ;-) But because of the thinness of the resulting mold, I just put holes (with a dremel) in the sides of the mold for ties or elastic and decorated the top of it, the convex part. I painted the face blue, then went back and painted in my features, then sprinkled tiny clear beads over the whole thing (adhered with spray adhesive). Because it’s just a face, I also made holes along the top to secure feathers and twigs and berries. You could just use a power drill with a small drill bit if you didn’t have a dremel…of course you have to wait till it’s fully dry to do it. Hope this helps and let me know if you have any more questions! Cheers! — Jan

      • Stellar Student

        Thank you so, so much!
        Verrry helpful!
        My friends and I are making these for a school project! :)

      • Jan

        Good luck! You’ll have so much fun…remember, plaster gets warm from a chemical reaction. It doesn’t get hot, though, and it’s safe and relaxing when it happens with this process.

  3. Danielle

    This is a great tutorial! I’ve been hunting down a good tutorial to make facial molds because I do make-up in my spare time and I want to make a werewolf snout. I was wondering if this process can be used on other parts of the body, such as the hands or feet?

    • Jan

      Hi, Danielle, and thanks for writing. Yes, it could, but one has to be able to lift the mold off the body part that’s been molded. You could do the top and bottom half of a foot and join them, for example. To join them, you could criss-crossing the seams with more plaster tape. You may have to cut each half down to fit along the seam or be really careful when making each half. The other thing is body hair…you’ll have to make sure the skin is covered with vaseline before hand… It is a release agent, but will also prevent the plaster from sticking to the body part. Good luck! — Jan

  4. Ann

    Will I be able just to use clay the same way of my friends face

    • Jan

      Hi, Ann, and thank you for writing. You can use the plaster strips on your friend’s face the same way. I did it with a friend myself the first time I did it. She made a mold of my face and I did hers. Make sure you leave openings for the nostrils so she can breathe while you do it though! After the mask/mold is hardened, you can use *the inside* to make an exact replica of her face. Spray or wipe the inside with oil first, so the clay will release easily. When I made my clay version, I used strips of clay; it seemed to work the best… Cheers and good luck! — Jan

  5. J

    Thanks for the instructions. My sister 3 years older than me is flying to see me next month I did this back in 1981/1982? at a ceramics class at the Des Moines Art Center in Des Moines, Iowa…I was in my mid-thirties then, I guess. Anyway, we each had a partner using the plaster of paris technique on each other. When my partner was “doing” my face, I had the most wonderful, peaceful, completely and total feeling of peace and relaxation; Now, 32 years later I still hold those few minutes as something precious. I can’t really describe it.
    However, now I realize that our class back then wasn’t given the instructions to “smooth out the creases.” So all of our clay masks had bandage creasemarks. We then tried another method that also stands out in as a highlighted memory, but not one of peace, but one of that was traumatic in its intensity. ///And, that finally , all that leads me to the 4 questions I have for you. 1.) I forget what we used to hold our hair back. What do you recommend? And, 2.) How much oil do you wipe out of your mold?……,2.) what did you use to wipe it out; a rag, etc.?…… 3.) Can use the mold more than once?… and I suppose you’d have to ‘reoil” again? And, 4.) Is plaster of paris washable from the towels?
    P.S. I don’t know what HTML tags are, so I am requesting that you not post my comments. But I would like to hear back from you by Email, and I would like you to notify me of your new posts. Thanks again for reminding me of those two intense moments in the past. My sister just had back surgery, so I hope she is able to lay flat on her back by next month. Any suggestions? I do have a recliner in the living room.

  6. Kimberlyboyd57@gmail.com

    Luv it !!!! I am definitely going to try it

  7. Hi,
    I loved this but I hAve a big question. What if I need to do a full head mask. I’m an actor and I will be filming a tv show and need to make molds for masks and other things. Would it work if I did it over the whole head or how would I accomplish this. I know why not just have other people make it for me. But it’s not that simple. I like to do it myself lol. Please get back to me ASAP please. Thanks,

    Mark Breeden – Actor.

  8. Hey,
    I really loved this but I have a big question. I’m an actor and I will be in a tv show but I want to build my own molds for masks. How would I make a mold of my whole head not just my face. Please write me back ASAP thanks. Oh and don’t forget to check out my website at http://www.markbreeden.weebly.com and tell me what you think.

    Thanks,

    Mark Breeden – Actor.

    • Jan

      Mark, thanks for writing and sorry for the delay in responding. The best way to mold your whole head would be to create two separate halves and glue them together. Because you must use a release agent like vaseline on your face to prevent the plaster from sticking to your skin, you will have to do something similar on the other half. I would suggest finding a swim cap (like this: http://www.swimming-caps.info/), cover all your hair with it…then cover the cap with a layer of vaseline. Someone will have to help you with this process. Then, follow the same steps as for molding your face. Make sure you use enough plaster strips to cover up to the halfway mark on each side. After both sides are dry, trim any excess, then glue the halves together… — Jan

      p.s. Regarding ears…be very careful. I would stuff cotton in them, use enough vaseline and only apply the strips to the outside front of your ears (not the backside). If you are going to be using a wig over the molded head, it’s possible you won’t have to mold your ears at all, depending on the length of hair….

  9. Breanna

    Do you think i would be able to pour plaster into this and create a mold of my face to use for mask making?

    • Jan

      Hi, Breanna, and thank you for writing. I do not know about mold/mask making using pure plaster…only using plaster impregnated cloth strips, as described. — Jan

  10. Stacy

    What do you need to make a mask, that is all I need to know.

  11. Stacy

    Never mind, I found it on a different website. Thanks though!

  12. Martin

    Hi Jan, This is great! I’m looking to make about 10 clay masks of my face, and need them to be quite thick. Do you think this mold would work and be re-usable? Is it just a matter of making the plaster thicker/sturdier to be able to use it like a press mold? Perhaps setting the mold in something else after as support?! (if that makes sense)..many thanks, Martin

    • Jan

      Hi, Martin, and thanks for writing! Sorry for the delay in getting back… What I would do would be to make the mold, as described, then seal off the eyes and nostrils with more plaster tape. After it’s thoroughly dry, do the following to make a master mold: Find a container that is a little larger than the face mold. Set the mold (concave side up) in the container. Mix up a batch of plaster to the right consistency, then pour it into the container, making sure it fills the container evenly. Have someone hold the face mold steady, so it doesn’t tip. Pour the plaster up to the level of the face mold and let it dry. By making a master mold, you will have a very sturdy mold that you can reuse many times. In addition, the plaster will draw moisture from the clay and aid in drying. Good luck! — Jan

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