Mixed Media Paper Masks : Dynamic & Wearable Art | Elisabeth Arena | Skillshare

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Mixed Media Paper Masks : Dynamic & Wearable Art

teacher avatar Elisabeth Arena, Artist and Educator

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.

      Mixed Media Paper Mask Intro


    • 2.

      Finding a Theme


    • 3.

      Collecting Papers


    • 4.

      Creating the Base Mask


    • 5.

      Assembling the Mask in Layers


    • 6.

      Constructing and Designing Noses


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About This Class

Exercise your creative impulses with some wearable art!

Am I wrong in thinking that people of all ages have a fascination with masks? I don't think so...If masks were just for kids there wouldn't be so much fuss over Carnevale in Venice, or Mardi Gras, or the incredible and macabre creativity of Day of the Dead!

So join me in this fun and engaging class that takes you step by step in the creation of one of my mixed media masks and inspires and guides you to make your own! 

What do I need to do this?

You might not be a well stocked crafter with a room crammed with obscure supplies and that is just fine! I will talk to you about selecting papers as well as creating your own. If you are one of those crafters, here is a way to use some of those awesome bits of gel printed papers, stamped ephemera (If you like the stamps I use, they are from my own line and can be seen at studiobrunnen.com), distressing inks and embossing powders. Yes, we do usually have a collection...or if you are like me, an area of contained chaos. 

You can also use and collect decorative papers from art and craft stores, packaging parts, tissue paper or napkins, magazines, old books, or anything papery that grabs your fancy.

You'll also need a thicker card stock or very thin, flexible cardboard as your mask base.

You'll need your favorite pair of sharp scissors (that no one has used to try and cut a crayon, a wire or any other weird materials not meant for paper scissors.)

You'll need some good liquid glue. Though you could use a hot glue gun, there will be parts you'll need to brush or spread the glue on for coverage.

Some stretchy cord would be a good idea, though you can go old school and tie some ribbon. Personally, I like having it secured with a a little tension while I am wearing my mask.

Have a pencil and some markers handy, a sketch book or some scrap paper to doodle and brainstorm on.

And of course, bring your IMAGINATION!

I can't wait to see what you come up with for our final class project!

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Elisabeth Arena

Artist and Educator


Hello. I'm Elisabeth, but you can call me Liz if you don't care for all those syllables. I've been an artist since childhood and formally trained in college. I got my BFA from Tufts and the Museum School in Boston, spent a few semesters studying in Florence (si, sono Italiana) and went on for a Master's degree with a Drawing specialty from Radford University. In my personal work, I use graphite, ink, marker, watercolor, acrylics and oils and digital media...but am always willing to experiment when I discover something new. You can see some more work on my fine art website:


I have been teaching for a number of years. Foundation and creative Drawing, Painting and Mixed Media are among my big subjects. I taught adults of varying sk... See full profile

Level: Beginner

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1. Mixed Media Paper Mask Intro: hi and welcome to mixed media paper masks. I am artist and educator Elizabeth Arena, and I'm here to guide you through the process of finding inspiration, gathering and collecting materials that you'll need to create your own piece of dynamic and wearable art. You could be in experience. Crafter, an artist with a lot of supplies. We're just getting started out as a novice. I'll talk to you about the process of discovering a theme that you can connect with and how to go about creating a language of color and shape that will best express that theme for your unique and personal mask. I'll be using found papers as well as old books and scraps from packaging, which I think are wonderful. Resource is as well as showing you how to make some of your own background paper is using simple materials such as watercolor or alcohol inks. You can also use things like coffee or tea or really just stretch your imagination. You can use stamping and bossing to create some very nice patterns and raise textures, and then we'll be putting it all together and with the assistance of a temple that I've included in our class. I'll show you how to make a nice pop up nose to finalize your piece. Please follow me for news on the latest classes. 2. Finding a Theme: we're going to talk now about the importance of finding a theme. Personally, I like to keep a word in my mind something that I connect with at the moment and for this particular mask. It was thinking of the word Winds E and also have the theme of a bird in mind. And in this clip of drying out some shapes just to show you the process of thought, you want to keep them consistent and have a consistent language with the shapes that you use. So spend some time sketching out possible shapes. Also, go through some scrap papers that you might have and cut out some shapes and see what they really look like. Make it tangible. Make your project really before you put it all together to really get a sense of what it is that you want. And that's something I'd like you to do in your first assignment. Just get some shapes together, decreed a cohesive language that she can use when you do put your final project together. So I went with a feather shapes and swirly, whimsical shapes that would suit my theme and something that I suggest doing is also drawing on top or creating multiple layers. So think about some tools that you might wanna have handy. You can use alcohol inks or, um, gel pens, micron pens. You can use some metallic inks, chalk markers and look at your shapes and draw a little bit inside those shapes to enhance the elements. You will see me also darkening the edges when I do put that mass together, and that kind of helps enhance the shapes when you overlay them, just playing around with them to get yourself in the zone before you actually start the final creation. And that will help you get into the right mindset, which is what we're looking for here. It's also a really good idea to think about what kind of colors we're gonna suit your theme . So, as I said, starting with a word is great but also looking through color books, looking at paint chips, looking at artwork and just looking at how different colors come together and finding something that you really identify with that strikes. The mood that you're trying to achieve will give you the incentive that you need to start collecting or creating the papers that will go along with your work. So I would like you to and your first assignment. And in a project calorie, create some of your own shapes that you can add and share with the class so we could get some idea of where you're headed with your final project. 3. Collecting Papers: collecting and creating papers for your project could be a lot of fun. Right now, I have some seeming Togashi paper that I created just using floating Sumi ink and a little bit of water down dish soap on a pan of water. It's really fun. You can also use old books that you might find at your local library sale, and I stay in these with tea to make him look even more aged. Different Alcohol Inc techniques Water color washes You can get some card stuck from your local hobby aircraft store. You conduce stamping you conducive gel plate printing. If you have that handy, or use the scraps you have from other projects. Collects of tissue paper. These were some marbled paper is that you can create a purchase. You can also buy em Boston Papers, Another gel print here that I just absolutely loved in those is There are lots of fun for projects like these. This is just a quick watercolor wash. It's a wet on wet, so the paper was soaked first before applying the watercolor, and then you can use some chunky granular salt and just dropped out on the surface. It alone let it dry and you'll get some really beautiful crystallized effect that I really like using for these types of mixed media projects. And it's just really magical to watch that dry so you can see it forming already. Also, this I created actually using my own line of stamps. I have a link below if you're interested in those but really nice to just choose images that work with your project. And it's great for creating patterns so you could get little snippets of a pattern within the project to address of interest and just kind of spread those around for some visual comparisons. You can also consider using some alcohol inks on non porous papers. This is done. A dural are, which is translucent. It's really nice if you wanna create some very subtle see through backs, which I do in my mask on show you those details later. So go out, get some ideas, insert having fun, collecting and creating your papers. I can't wait to see what you come up with. 4. Creating the Base Mask: you'll see in front of me here that I have a template that's going to be found in the exercise files for this class, and I would say that you're probably safe and assuming this will work well for your face. But test it out and see if you would like to make the holes a little bit bigger or different shape. And also check the England the nose to make sure it feels comfortable on your face. I'm using a thin sheet off cardboard here, not corrugated cardboard, just a flexible, um surface that will hold up nicely for the base form of the mask. You could also use a thicker card stock, but it will just be a little bit on the flimsier side. You could use an Exacto knife to start a whole for cutting the eyes out. I'm using some scissors here, but whatever you feel comfortable, if we're work just fine. It's a good idea to attach your stretching band first. I'm using just general fabric supply that you could buy it and any craft or fabric supply store for that stretchy elastic on the back, and I glued it down with a nice, strong adhesive. Just Teoh. Get it securely. Fasten instead of poking holes in the mask. And I just secured it with some masking tape so that I could work on the form with my papers. I would suggest you use papers on your background just to keep it on the safe side. If you do have any gaps in the shapes that you're gonna be attaching to your masks, you wanna make sure that no one sees that cardboard underneath and that you have some layering going on just to keep it safe? I just use them recycled tissue that I found an awesome little bits of my book paper that I had stained with tea just to give it that safety net just to make sure I don't have any gaps. And I'm also not worried about the cardboard. When I start working with the shapes, you can also really think about it in terms of incorporating what kind of colors You won't use the background because you could intentionally leave some empty gaps to come. Go back to that initial layer once you get this all set, I'm also just using some mod podge to glue that on their theme the stronger glue I used for the shapes. So go ahead and get that done, and we're gonna move on to our shapes. 5. Assembling the Mask in Layers: So here we have the base mass complete. Everything's dried up and I started putting my shapes on here. So I've cut out my first shape, which has sort of a feathery look. And it's at high speed because I do pause quite a bit just to contemplate what's going on, as I'm sure you will to on your project. And I do want to sit there and think with me. I do outline quite a bit with markers, alcohol markers, Sharpies thinks that you can use. I have some walnut Thanks. You could use destruction, things you could use ink stamp pads if you'd like to try thinking a little bit on edge is I like doing that because I think it just kind of helps things stick out, enhances them a little bit more. It's just like creating a drawing without using any strong outlines. I think that those outlines are important to the composition, so I started with a symmetry on have that sort of flare coming out of the corner and I like doing that just so I don't pigeonhole myself into feeling like I just have to dio symmetry and keep everything perfectly. Even so, I do usually start with something this little more flared, expressive, as I do have a tendency to get a little stuck on a symmetry if I start doing that first. But I've used already a combination papers, gel prints, watercolor wash with the crystals. I use a little bit of Samina, Gashi and stamped papers, so I have some very distinctive designs that I wanted to add to embellish corners, the mask and then also just some symmetrical papers. The one in the center is a tea stained piece of paper, just a thick drawing paper. I've cut out little bits from my marble papers that you could see on the left there, that blue piece in the center, and I've also now just doing some more symmetrical shapes, but decided it would be best to do a little embellishment. Use an ink. I used a golden pen, a swell as a white gel pen and some black ink, and there we have again my watercolor wash that I did something to keep in mind when you're working on anything is, of course, composition. So think about color balance. If you have a whole lot of red on once at the mask, but it's nowhere else than when people are looking at it. Visually. They might just be drawn to that area, and I will get stuck in the place so you want to make sure that you have a little bit of color balance. If you have a lot of warm colors in one place, make sure that you at least bounce it off with some warm colors elsewhere to keep, keep the eye moving around and also just create some balance to the image. Things don't have to be symmetrical to be balanced, but colors do have to move us around a little bit. The piece that I just put on there, if you can see it's got a metallic finish on the pattern that's done with stamped a stamped in Boston image, which I think works really nicely. It creates a nice texture if you don't have all the supplies. You confused my boss papers from in Art Supply Store, and there you have a little section that I use from my alcohol ink on the drill, our paper so you can actually see through it. I put a piece of book page underneath, so there's some words that are sticking out. I really love fine detail, and there's something very intriguing about words were drawn to them. We want to know if there's a message and they did find the word. Nothing sort of written in the middle of a sentence, which I really liked having in the center there so you could be strategic about what were its you. You want to show If you do have some old book pages that you can use, don't be afraid to experiment to layer. And also be careful when you're gluing that you don't glue down the entire shape. You don't really necessarily want that whole shaped, covered in glue on the bottom, because you wanna have the freedom to slide some shapes a little bit underneath and curl the edges up a little bit so that you have some or dimensionality to the mass instead of just a flat piece. The really wonderful thing about this, when you do put it on all those edges they're flaring up. What kind of raise out? Even a little bit more as the mass curves, So you have a more more dimension when you do put it on your face. Just a few final little embellishments that I did hear over the eyebrows. I think about how you want your eyes be presented. You want them to be very dramatic to win a lot of dark line around there. So the viewers really focused on looking eyes. If you're wearing the mask or do you want to build more subtle and blended in thinking about where you gonna put some of the darker elements or something unique is really gonna help move, move the attention around or really pull attention into a particular place that you want people to see? I'm very quickly here making a nose. The next video will detail how to use the nose template. I really can't wait to see how different everyone's mask is really looking forward to this project gallery. 6. Constructing and Designing Noses: I think one of the most fun parts of this for me is making the nose. And I think that that extruding three dimensional piece really brings everything together. So you will have some templates in your exercise files with the nose forms and the solid black lines were cut lines, the dotted lines, your fold lines. You can do this one of two ways. You can fold your nose paper in half and trace the template. Or you could just trace the template. If you're using a really thick sheet of paper, that's kind of up to you. Um, but those two little slits that you see on the side there those air where you're going, Teoh, just fold the flaps over as you'll see you've got to do that cut line in the middle so you can create taps to put on the back. And you can see me folding those taps right now and then. What I'm gonna do is just get some glue on and adjust those little to side slits that I cut in there so that the angle is how I want it for the So that's your choice. You can fiddle around with your nose until the curve is high. One. If you do too much, it could curve around too much and actually be uncomfortable in your face. So you want to try and test that out a little bit. And you could always experiment. Of course, lives just some cheapo copy paper and also just places that your mass to make sure you don't have to adjust it before you do the final gluing for your tabs, you can do a lot of different kinds of news is this is just an introduction for you so you could experiment with some other shapes. I did. Two possible knows is the one with the two pieces is knows with a little bit more of an extension. So you're basically following the same protocols with attaching the peace to the mask. But you could do Let's A have been a three or four partners if you wanted a really long one or any wanted some additional shapes. It's really just up to your imagination. So here we go again. I'm tracing now that first top piece, and this is the part that would attach to the mask and out finding it, and, um do both pieces now. This is the bottom piece that's gonna attached to our 1st 1 so that will be the part that comes to a point here. What thing I'll say them the papers is I like having a really distinctive paper for the knows something maybe a little bit different that's more intense or dark, kind of like a bird's bake. If you think about it, it's usually quite a different color to be quite vibrant. I like using textured of talent papers or really dark, intense papers for the the nose, which really does often look like could be gonna mess, though you could tailor, and you could create a tips that would look more like a dog's snout. Anything that you want to do, you can figure it out with paper and experimenting different shapes. So here we have it. I've created the flaps and done that 1st 1 just like I did. The initial knows The standard knows that I put and then in that bottom piece there, I'm just folding those flaps underneath and attaching them to the first part. No so you could see what I'm doing here. With that, he's a glue and then I'm just gonna stick the taps under there, so it's a more protruding type of beak. Now, you don't have to stop here. You can also Belshe, Who knows? Maybe you want to add some more shapes on top of your nose with some other pieces so you could draw on it. If you want to make some nostrils, you could cut directly into the piece of paper that's your nose. Or you could do what I'm doing here, which is just adding some little flare. And as always, I always cut up my my papers and just really, um, down an experiment to see what I like before I commit anything with glue. But it's an option that you have to draw even more attention interest to that piece and see how it works with the rest of your mess. You definitely want the languages to be cohesive, but you don't want to have something that's completely off the wall that doesn't fit in with your theme. Um, but you could make it extraordinary and really visible, or you could choose to make it subtle. That's up to you, so I would love to see what you do. And if you do experiment a bit and create your own additional flair to make the nose your own, I think experimentation is the most fun part of art and don't have to stop here. You could start adding some peers. Cem hair Any additional objects that you can think of that would make your mask even more interesting and dynamic.