Sunday, June 15, 2014

DIY Harry Potter Death Eater Mask

Warning: this post contains several unintentionally creepy photos - plus one or two intentional ones. :D

So you want to be a Death Eater.

First off, shame on you. Really.

Second, hey, now you get to wear a cool mask! So let's make one!

Here's the one John and I just finished:

You Will Need:

aluminum foil
masking tape
paper clay (available at most craft stores)
sand paper
thin craft foam
metallic craft paints

To begin, you'll need a mold of your face. If you don't happen to have a plaster life-cast hanging around, then do this:

Er, that's John, in the process of mashing two layers of aluminum foil on his face. Remember to close your eyes and hold your breath, and try to get it as relatively smooth and face-hugging as possible. 

Before you take the foil off your face, have a friend wrap some tape around the edges, to help strengthen the over all shape:

Crumble up some more foil underneath to help support the face mold, and then get ready to paper maché, baby!

Cut your newspaper into thin strips, and for the paste, dump a cup or two of flour into a large bowl. Add water to the flour until it's a good, pancake batter-like consistency, stirring to get out the lumps.

Now dunk your paper strips one at a time, squeeze off the excess, and start laying them over your foil mask:

 Remember to lay your strips in different directions as you go.

You'll want about three or four layers for a good, strong mask. You can speed up the drying process in-between layers by placing your mask in a 200 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes.

Updated to add: Make sure you try on your mask again after each layer, since I discovered later that the paper mache can shrink and/or warp a bit. Re-mold it to your face as necessary, and then keep going. 

After your second or third layer, go ahead and peel off the aluminum foil from the back side of your mask:

This will leave uncomfortable scratchy bits of paste and paper, so do your final layer of paper maché on the inside of your mask, to smooth it out.

Once you're done with the paper maché, leave your mask overnight to make sure it's completely dry all the way through. You don't want any moisture left in there, or it could mold or rot. Which would be icky.

Ok, now you have a mask of your face! But odds are your face isn't THAT evil looking. (I hope.) So let's bring out your inner Death Eater!

Smooth on a layer of paper clay all over the mask, and then have fun sculpting some angry eyebrows, Angelina cheekbones, pointy chins - whatever floats your evil, evil boat.

Updated to add: If you add a thick layer of clay the excess moisture can re-wet the paper underneath, warping it. (While this didn't happen with John's mask, it did later with mine.) To prevent this, I recommend sealing your paper mache with a quick blast of sprayprimer.

Here's what John came up with:

All Death Eater masks have distorted mouths, usually with decorative grates or straps over them, so go ahead and smooth over your mask's lips, too. It helps to know which style you're going with first, though, so do some googling and find a design you like. Here's a sampling to get you started:

John decided to go with the mouth style on the very bottom right.

When you're happy with your sculpting, you can again speed up the drying by sticking your mask in a warm (200 degree) oven. Then give it a good sanding to smooth it further:

Now's also a good time to carve or drill eye holes, to help you center your design.

Next is the fun part: DECORATING.

Most Death Eaters have surprisingly pretty swirly bits on their masks. Print out a design you like, or just free-hand it on paper. Use those designs as a template on thin craft foam, and cut them out with scissors or a craft blade.

Also cut out your mask's eye holes, nostrils, and mouth with a craft blade. It will be a little shreddy, so just be patient and clean up the edges as best you can.

In addition to craft foam, you can also decorate with more paper clay, shapes cut from heavy cardstock, or even metal filigree pieces and charms. Sky's the limit!

For John's mask I added inner eyes lids made of clay, while he cut out a swirly design and mouth grate from cardstock and craft foam, respectively. Here they are glued down and based in bronze paint:

Don't worry if your foam cuts are a little rough; these masks are supposed to look old and banged up, so that's all "character."

Most Death Eater masks are silver, but they come in a wide enough variety that you can get away with almost any metallic finish. For John's we couldn't resist using our Modern Master's patina again, which turned out even better than we hoped:


Once we were happy with the amount of patina, John used a little liquid silver leaf on a Q-tip to highlight the mouth grate & forehead scroll. Then I used Bead in a Bottle paint to make a few "rivets" on those same pieces. Those extra finishing touches really make the whole thing sing:

... or not so much "sing" as "screech menacingly." Mwuah-ha-haaa.

To be honest, this whole project has been an experiment in Things We've Never Done Before, so John and I are mildly astounded at how well this turned out.

To wear your mask, attach string or elastic by drilling a hole through the temples and tying a knot, or by riveting the strap in place. Do NOT try gluing the strap to the inside of the mask, as the strap will only tear off the first inner layer of paper. (Ask me how I know! o.0)

Here it is in daylight:


And after I added some black drips on the mouth grate, for extra creep factor:


Next John and I will be finishing my own mask, which is still in the decorating phase. We're hoping to wear these to Leaky Con the weekend of July 30th, which is a Harry Potter convention here in Orlando. We've never been before, and while they don't have many big media stars, I'm psyched to see their emphasis on YA literature: Holly Black, Scott Westerfield, and John Green will all be there. Suh-WEET! Plus any excuse to hang with other local Potter heads, am I right?


Come see ALL of my craft projects on one page, right here!


  1. So the dark side has cookies AND cool masks? No fair! (Seriously, though, that looks awesome.)

  2. Ohhhh! I'll be watching for your masks at the Con. I'll be working the booth called Ambrosia Candies in the vendor hall. I've been almost every year. The week is great fun!

  3. Every time you post a craft project that I like, I picture myself trying to do it and ending up as one of th Pinterest fails (NAILED IT!) on a Buzzfeed listicle.

    1. Ah, but you've got a built-in advantage this time: the more mangled you make it, the creepier it gets! Eh? :D

  4. Very cool. Does it feel fairly sturdy? I've been curious about using paper mache for a while now and wasn't sure how fragile it was (30 years old and I think I've only ever used it one time about 2 decades ago).

    Also, you might like this build on instructables. It's wicked good and makes me super jealous.

    1. I hadn't used paper maché since grade school, either, so I was amazed at how sturdy it is. You can drill and sand it on its own, so when you combine that with the paper clay on top, you get one heckuva strong mask. If you knock on it you'd almost swear it was wood!

      And, yes, I've been drooling over that Instructable! Just amazing!

  5. Dude. This is so great. I'm going to have to re-do mine now.

  6. Does it actually need the straps to stay on, or are those just for show? I would have thought since it's molded to John's face, it would stay on by it's own means. Is it too heavy from all the decorating? :-P

    1. It doesn't go far enough over John's head to stay on by itself, so it definitely needs the straps! If you made one that went over the crown of the head then it *might* stay, but I'd still want a strap just to anchor it in place.

  7. Ah! I'm so excited you're going to LeakyCon! I'm going this year for the first time too

  8. If you don't want to mess with trying to get the correct flour/water ratio or worry about the mold issue, use liquid starch as your glue. It's sticky to work with, but in the end the paper-mache will dry a bit harder, too!

  9. I'm so excited you are going to LeakyCon! It's going to be my first convention, and I'm a huge fan of yours! YAYAYAYAY!! Even more excited now!

  10. I'm so jealous that you're going to LeakyCon. There's going to be two actors from the actual movies, a bunch of actors from 'A Very Potter Musical', Potter Puppet Pals, and Starkids doing a Starship reading. I wish I didn't live on the other side of the country.

  11. What does it say about me, that the thing that stuck with me from that post is that you seem to know the consistency of pancake batter. Which leads me to: How is your cooking going? Did you stick with it?

    1. AhahahahahhaaNo. ;) But John makes more stuff these days, which is awesome. Tonight we had Korean Street Tacos. SO GOOD.

  12. Another idea for adding small details to the mask before painting is to use a glue gun. You can add all kinds of swirls and lines and such with the glue and then paint over it.

    1. Ah, yes! And puff paint, too, if you're like me and tend to burn yourself with a glue gun. ;)

  13. Awesome! I would love to go to Leaky Con! Or any kind of Con! I'll have to keep my eyes open for Minneapolis shindigs! I'm such a Potterhead!

  14. SO, this post gives me some hope, because you know what? I have fantastic taste and very little money. Which of course means I am DIYing it a lot, and recently I fell in love with these tables
    Which are made of tin and brass and cost 11eleventy billion dollars, because they are tres chic and retro and awesome. And I short of becoming a tin smith I could not figure out how I was going to make one for myself. But this mask looks so realistically metal, I simply have to ask JEN, do you think I could apply some of these techniques and make the table of my dreams?

  15. Do you put the paper clay on the inside too, or just the outside? :)

  16. I'm trying to do mine, but the flower/water misture is so sticky and wet when i moisture de paper, I hope it works, but the first layer didnt look very good aisudhiaushd in my country i didn't find this paperclay, i'm going to try with normal clay. If doens't work, i will make the paperclay, saw a couple of videos in youtube.

    1. Make sure you let the paper mache dry in-between layers; too much moisture will definitely not hold the shape well! And I think regular clay would also work fine, it just might be heavier. Good luck!

  17. What kind of paper clay do you use? I bought some off Amazon (the packaging isn't in english so I can't tell the name) and it doesn't stick to the papeir mache that well.

    1. Mine's called Creative Paperclay, in a black package. If it's not sticking well you might try hitting the paper with a quick spray primer, to give it more grit for the clay to cling to. This will also prevent the clay from re-wetting the paper mache and warping it, which I've had trouble with on my own mask. In fact, I think I'll add that tip to the post now!

  18. Thank you so much for this guide! Me and my husband finished making our masks and hey look legit!!! We did the foil/paper mache methode and didn't have any issues :) if I could post a photo I would! Thank you!

  19. First of all: Thank you very much for this guide and damn does your mask look good!
    Second: Do you put paperclay on the inside of the mask aswell or do you remove the paper maché after you have crafted the paperclay on the outside?

    1. My husband and I put the paper clay only on the outside (although i'm sure you could do it on the inside if you wanted to), I don't think its possible to remove the paper mache on the inside (but we did sand it down to make it more smooth). Here is a pinterest link to the mask I made so you can see what the final looked like if you are interested.

  20. I never thought of baking paper mache in the oven. I live in MS so the humidity is always a factor in making crafts. I'll send you a pic when I'm done.

    A Future Death Eater


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