When Fat Tuesday arrives, New Orleans will be taken over with beads, magnificent costumes, Mardi Gras revelers, extravagant floats and booming marching bands. But the party doesn't stop at the French Quarter. People all over the United States as well as Brazil and many countries in Europe join in on the eating and drinking celebration. So whether you're joining a city-wide parade event, or just having a party in your house or classroom, the best way to get started is making yourself a mask.
Constructing a Mardi Gras mask can be an elaborate or simple process. You can either start by purchasing a pre-made plastic eye mask or cutting one out yourself from a simple pattern. Materials such as cardboard, cereal boxes, paper plates, or anything with some stiffness and shape should work just fine. Next you'll want to collect some items to decorate and detail your mask. Most craft stores will have everything you need, but you may be able to collect those items from your house. Traditional materials include feathers, beads, glitter, sequins and ribbon, but you can get a little wacky and use buttons, old jewelry pieces, spray paint, fabrics or whatever interesting elements you find. You'll probably need a hot-glue gun or at least some glue. You can also choose to sew your details on. It all just depends on your materials and resources.
Easy Mask for Kids
Let's start out with a mask simple enough for your child to construct. Beginning with a paper plate for the mask and a chopstick for a handle, you can paint the plate traditional colors like purple, green and gold or have fun with your own palette. Once the paint is dry, use your glue gun or regular glue to decorate. If you're covering your mask with details, you'll want to start from the eyes and inside part, and work your way out to the edges.
Easy Headpieces for Kids and Teens
These fantastic headpiece masks are really just the same as the first but with more detail and imagination. The more unique your odds and ends, the better this mask will turn out. In fact, this is a great way to clean out your scrap craft material drawer. Look for feathers, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, gift wrapping supplies, stickers, shaped foam, markers and whatever else you find at the bottom of your craft junk box. To add the headpiece spikes, cut up old milk cartons to secure your feathers. A hole puncher makes securing ribbon and pipe cleaners easy as well.
For a headpiece how-to, check out Alphamom.
Here's a great mask if you want to go nuts with spray paint. This one utilizes a pre-made eye mask with cardboard cut-outs for shapely details. For the gradient mist-colored paint job, buy a few pastel colors which will layer and overlap onto each other well. You can use shimmer paint for added sparkle. Spray your mask and your cardboard cut-outs, assemble with glue and then adorn your mask with ribboned sequins, feathers and ornaments.
There's not much of a how-to, but you can see more details at Plkomara's blog.
Beaked creatures and sun gods definitely have their place among the Mardi Gras partiers. These masks look intricate and possibly difficult, but they're really only one additional step to your mask-making process. The beaked one is just card stock or a cereal box cut into a triangle, folded down the middle and adhered to the nose of your mask with hot glue. Cover with glitter and your glue job will be safely hidden. The sun god is just two Styrofoam plates.
Here's the how-to along with another two mask ideas at A Big Slice.
Mad Hatter's Hat
Since the festivities surrounding the Mardi Gras celebration are quite crazy, why not make a Mad Hatter's tiny little top hat? This hat is constructed from a cereal box and fabric, but you can use spray paint rather than fabric if you want to simplify the process. After cutting out all the pieces, you'll construct the hat with glue and masking tape. Next, you can use whatever sequins, feathers or objects you've acquired to add some big flair to your tiny hat. To secure the hat to your head, stitch on a comb to the bottom of the hat. It's practically magic.
Here's another piece from Alphamom, utilizing found objects and craft scraps again. To make your crown shape, you'll cut apart a two-liter bottle and secure its shape with electrical tape. Now all you have to do is decorate with craft pieces and odds and ends. Your finished piece will be a colorful crown, fit for a princess.