Chinese New Year: Year of the Horse Mask!
You know how there are kids who really love horses? Like REALLY love them. There are dog people and cat people and then there are HORSE people and those people will spend all day mucking stables just so that they can be near these amazing majestic creatures…
I am not one of those kids.
However that doesn’t mean I haven’t always wanted a horse mask. There’s just something oddly funny about a horse head on a person. It just makes me want to break out the ball gowns and pose for really artsy photos. Maybe that’s just me.
Since this Chinese New Year is Year of the Horse, I have been all over the horse mask. I decided to create my own, in red. Because I can and it’s awesome.
Here is how I created mine:
First I gathered my supplies.
SUPPLIES for Chinese New Year Horse Mask
• one plastic milk carton cut in half with some heavy duty scissors
(Have an adult do this part. Milk cartons can be resistant to scissors. Brute strength may be necessary.)
• three latex balloons
• masking tape
• scissors and/or exacto knife* (for eye holes)
• paper mache paste (1 cup flour to 1.5 cups of water roughly)
• newspaper torn into 1-inch strips
• white computer paper (optional)
• red and black acryllic paint
• red yarn
• a hole puncher
Then I set to work. I fashioned a horse head out of my milk carton and three half-blown-up balloons. I used the carton as the face (cutting eye holes with an exacto knife*) and then attaching the biggest balloon as the nose. I held everything down with masking tape. My nose was a little bulbous at the end so I bunched up newspaper around the narrower part to make it look a little more horsey. I probably could have done a little more because my horse ended up looking more like a cross between a moose and a horse (a morse!) but you get the idea. Then I barely blew up the other two balloons and attached them to the top like little ears. I taped everything down securely.
Next I made my paper maché paste. This recipe can be varied. I’ve seen it all over the internet with many variations. I basically just put a cup of flour into a bowl and then added water until it was the consistency of gloopy glue. You can’t really go wrong here. If you add too much water then add more flour.
Once I had my gloopy paste and my torn newspaper all set up, I got to work. I dipped each strip of newspaper into my paste (running the excess liquid off by sliding the strip through my fingers) and then laid it gently over my mask. First horizontally and then vertically. You need to let the mask dry in between each layer. If you are in a hurry you can speed up the drying process with a hair dryer.
Here’s a secret: If you want your mask to be really smooth and free of any printing that might show up through your paint, add a third layer of plain white computer paper instead of newspaper. Personally, I skipped that step and my paint covered just fine but I also used student grade acrylic paint* instead of the usual kid-friendly washable paint that doesn’t cover quite so well.
Once my paper maché was completely dry, I painted the whole mask red. I let that dry and then added my black details: the nostrils, a mouth and two eyes, some ear outlines… I enlarged the appearance of the cut-out eye holes by painting a circle much bigger and adding eyelashes but feel free to let your inner artist go crazy. Then I added some glitter for an extra festive touch. Nothing says Happy New Year better than gold glitter!
To create the horse’s mane I wrapped red yarn around a 5 inch piece of cardboard until I had a thick skein (you could also use your hand). I tied it in the middle and then cut the loops on both sides. Then I glued it to the top of my horse head, ruffled it up and my “morse” looked like a horse!
I punched a hole in each side of my mask with a hole puncher and added ribbon so that it could be tied onto a human head. I think it turned out pretty fantastic, what do you think?
Happy Chinese New Year to you all!
Difficulty Level: Moderate
Appropriate Age levels: Five and up. Paper maché is fun for all ages but it is messy so be prepared with a well-covered work area.
* Have an adult use all cutting tools when cutting the milk carton. Exacto knives are not for kids.
** When painting always paint in a well-ventilated area.