Papier mache mask construction: Part 2 of 3

A bird of paper
calls charcoal its spirit now
among the fly ash

I made sure to design the mask so that it can be removed immediately in case of fire. The prominent brow of the bird is taking shape. Think of it as a mullet sewn directly onto the scalp.
The cranium piece underneath it is going to be attached to the nose you way of two comical buttons. The skull will be given a stiff lower hem in the back.
This duck mullet was built in 24 hours with 5 to 9 layers of paper. I am going to glue a Velcro elastic strap to the underside of the post and the two tails of the mullet. If needed, the mask works without any scalp. Or sobriety, theoretically.

Here comes the bill

I am going to reserve all feathers to the parts that drape the neck and shoulders. The head will gleam like a jelly bean. I might even put the feathers on my arms instead.

A forecast

Happy 9th Birthday, fiftystatebanana!

This day marks my 9th year at the wheel of fiftystatebanana. The road ahead, the road behind me, those paths no longer matter. The only thing that matters is finishing this ridiculous mask.

The cheekbones

The large eye sockets are girded with a 2” strip of stretched chicken wire

The eye sockets will be large and loose. They connect the beak to the cranium. They appear to ripple with the force of the eyes bugging out of them.

The upper palate used to construct the prism of the upper beak has been removed. The final upper piece is going over the counterweight. I am one more sealing layer away from working on the neck and shoulder . sections.

Throw Some Neck

A petal too fool
Rushes by on its glide
To say ‘Hi’ to stem

The head needs a six to eight inch neck, so I removed all the pieces and took a look at the stub. The head looks better without the bug-eyes momentarily.


I took the head stub and stuck it in a box. I taped it down and cut a wedge out of the box to snug the bridge of the nose down in it. That is the most rigid part of the mask. The mask now sits on a laziest Susan, with no casters or bearings. Work on the neck goes fast.

I wore it a couple of times. No pictures. My kid was following me around when I got my oldborn to snap some pics, and he looks confused in the photos, poor fella.

I can tell you that my height with the mask on is probably 7 foot 2 inches to 7 foot 6 inches. This is getting out of hand. I had to duck…just to get through the door. The name of the costume is ‘Better Duck’. That’s what they call me…

The triangle is where my face will be

I stuffed some packing foam in there for the time being, but it is all going to be replaced with paper, and I will have a fan built into the rear of the skull at the top to pull air up and through the mask from collar. It is HOT in there. Circulation will keep the mask dryer, and the batteries for the mask make a functional ballast for the counterweight design.

I applied another layer of paper to the lower half of the mask and the collar. The collar was built on two pieces of chicken wire. I had to don this mess a few times to orient myself to the issues inside involving stray wires, heat, field of view, center of gravity, and so on. I used pucks cut from a pool noodle to rough out the locations of the shoulders under the wire frame. I cheated with a bit of tape. That saved eight hours or drying time. I used the tape like a shoestring to con he the neck shut, then I wired it in. Some of the wire frame had pulled from the paper entirely, so I buttoned that up with a hem. The bottom of the collar rolls out like a genie shoe. It curls back onto itself. I got three layers on the collar by midnight.

There still remains the issue of the counterweight and the headpiece feature. I have a space atop the bird’s head shaped like a drop of water on a flat surface. It needs to be exciting AND lightweight. I want lights, so there won’t be much more than lights and paint up there. The tube with the fan wire will house an extra bundle of wires threaded through and tinned for soldering to components.

It’s coming together!

I swiped two-inch divots off the sides of the neck towards the back. Buried inside the mask is an air tube for drawing air out that gets trapped inside. I want to stay cool. Who wants a soggy mask? I put a T in the line and fluted it inside a four inch length of pool noodle mounted horizontally inside the mask. It connects to another T in the back. Theoretically, I could pump cool liquids into the mask. Who wants cool liquids?

Level, and symmetrical shoulder hooks

My aperture is 11 inches high and about 4 inches wide at eye-level. I snugged my head in there with cut pieces of foam. The paper inside the mask is going to be sealed. Then I glue perforated felt in there. Holes inside the mask will draw air from the top and rear.


I’m flapping all around, I’m a pink bird. Not bad.

Rated G, three feet tall, three feet thick, two feet wide
Goal: Design Concept

I am going to rough it out in a fairly mild appearance, but the mask is heading to Appliqué City. The upper portion of the skull and eyes are incredibly fragile. The stub is very tough.

This thing weighs about twelve pounds without the batteries and gizmos. This concludes Part 2 of 3. The third installment will feature a video after I find an appropriate outfit and improve the appearance. The mask is nearly too big to fit in my car. That’s why canoes remain my preferred method of travel . You never know when you might need to arrive by water as a pink bird.

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