The saying that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb is the inspiration behind this playful children’s party idea.
Spring is full of contradictions, from its unpredictable weather to its varied color palette, and this spirited theme party captures the youthful spontaneity of the season.
Children love to play dress up, whether they’re parading around in their parent’s clothes or donning funny masks, little ones certainly get a kick out of adopting new appearances and characters. These paper-mâché masks will pique young imaginations with their bold colors and help celebrate all sides of spring, whether it’s fierce and unpredictable like a lion or mild and easy-going like a lamb
Paper-mâché is a simple sculpting technique that requires few materials and little know-how to do, making it a perfect craft for kids or idle-handed adults.
Plastic masquerade masks (available at most party supply stores)
Several sheets of newspaper
All purpose flour
Small sheets of cardboard
To make paper-mâché paste place 1 cup of flour in a bowl or container, slowly mix in 1/2 cup of water until desired consistency is achieved. Some like their paper-mâché to be thick and paste-like, while others prefer a runnier concoction. I find that a 1 to 2 ratio works just fine, and can be better handled by novices.
The mask on it’s own is a good starting point as far as facial features go, but a lion’s mane and a lamb’s ears are the key features you’ll want to include to make your masks look like the real deal.
For the lamb mask you’ll just want to cut two tear drop shapes out of cardboard and affix them to either side of the mask using masking tape. Don’t worry about using too much tape to keep the ears from drooping; it will all be covered by paper-mâché later.
For the lion’s mane simply roll strips of news paper in varying sizes and arrange around the top of the mask so they frame the wearer’s face.
To give masks more animal-like appearances sculpt snouts out of balled up newspaper. Using the tape to bind the paper will help it take shape and become more solid and easier to attach to your mask.
Once you’ve attached all pieces to your masks, you’re ready to start paper-mâching. Tear small pieces of newspaper and dunk them individually into mixture, taking care to cover strip paper entirely. Ring out excess liquid by running the paper between your thumb and forefinger, while it is important that the paper is totally submerged, drenched strips may increase your project’s drying time. Lay moistened paper onto mask, smoothing it with your finger until it clings and contours to the mask. Repeat process until mask is completely covered, and allow to dry for at least an hour in between layers.
After your masks are completely dry, use and layered to your satisfaction, use a sheet of coarse grit sandpaper to smooth any uneven edges. Now you’re ready to paint!
While acrylic paint is ideal for painting unfinished paper-mâché projects, other water-based paints such as gouache and tempera will work just fine. All three types are available in a variety of colors, and can mixed to great just about any color you desire. Feel free to let your imagination run wild when painting your masks, and encourage to the little ones to get involved and express themselves through color.
When you’ve finished painting your masks allow them to dry thoroughly before wearing, about 4 hours. Set up a small photo booth for the youngsters to strike a pose with their animal masks and print out the snapshots for them to take home with them.