Paper Mask Making | Kimmy Cantrell Inspired

3 Awesome Kimmy Cantrell Paper Masks

Made With Primary School

Age 8-11 | Year 4 -6 | 3 - 4 Sessions

If you haven't heard of Kimmy Cantrell, then you're missing out on life!

I introduced my students to Cantrell's work and it was the perfect transition from Picasso to mask making. Literally found his work about 2 days before I was going to introduce african mask making. How perfect is that!?

I explained to my students that Cantrell had a very "Picasso-y" feel to his work. It's as if he took inspiration from his African American heritage and mixed it with a Picasso flavour like the portraits we painted earlier. And this, in combination with an African heritage Cantrell creates beautifully strange faces from clay and wire.

We watched his artist video before we began making our own.

My school has tons of clay, but no kiln.. so.. we used my favourite medium instead. Paper!

I tried to create a way to make masks or mask type pictures in a few different ways for each year group to try.

Year 4 made paper / origami masks Year 5 made mask pictures using the crayon scratching technique Year 6 made masks from cardboard

Each year group had to plan at least 3 faces in their sketchbooks before we started using the materials. I told them to choose the face they liked the most and then ask their class peers to choose a favourite. Make a decision after that.

Origami Masks

Year 4 | 2 sessions

What You'll Need:

  • Card stock paper - Assorted colours

  • Pencils

  • Scissors

  • Glue sticks

  • Markers

  • Tissue Paper (optional)

  • Feathers (optional)

What To Do:

By the way, this lesson is a PERFECT symmetry lesson!


Fold card stock in half (portrait way) and cut half a face shape.


Fold both sides of the face inwards and cut some half eye shapes. Triangles work well too.


Cut a slim shape to create the mouth. It may useful to pre-draw this to test how it will look. I also showed students some expressive mouth ideas by drawing them on the board and drawing a line down the center so they had a better idea of what half of the mouth would look like.


I used the extra scraps of paper from when we cut the face to create the nose and ears.


For the hair, just one way to do it is to cut some paper into a sort of fringe, by cutting skinny strips down the paper but leaving one side of the paper's edge intact in order to keep the strips together, and to a have a place to glue it to the face. Tightly roll the strips around a pencil to curl it.


Add decorations with tissue paper, feathers, pipe cleaners, whatever you like! Some children used pens and markers to add other details.

Crayon Scratched Masks

Year 5 | 2 Sessions

I love this technique!

What You'll Need:

  • Paint Brushes

  • Black Ink. We used some india ink and a no name ink. Use what you have.

  • Card stock paper

  • Scissors

  • Anything sharp-ish like tooth picks, skewers, popsicle sticks, paper clips

  • Crayons

  • Black Sharpie

What to do:


In a sketchbook or scrap paper plan some different face ideas. Take a look at Kimmy Cantrells page and see what types of facial features he creates the most. Draw some inspiration from that and create at least 4 face designs.


With a black sharpie, draw the face onto the card stock paper.


Colour the face in firmly with crayons. (Remember to use white crayons to colour the white areas.)


Brush black ink all over the face. Just one pass, you don't want it too thick or too watery.

Then, let the ink dry. Should only take a few minutes.

TEACHER TIP: I set up an inking station in one part of the room and allowed the kids to go over there to ink their portraits when they were done colouring. They left them there and I'd call them over once they were dry and hand them a tooth pick to start the scratching.

Another Tip: Give them something else to do while they wait. Or else they just lingered watching the ink dry and start chatting to their friends. I have loads of great ideas for things they can do while they wait. Take a browse through the FSF shop.


Scratch patterns, lines and other designs into the face with the toothpick. Reveal as much of the colours as you can to create a stunning picture!

Some colours may scratch better than others, but if you only painted one layer of ink you should be fine. I found that a few students got ink happy and just completely saturated their picture. When it came to scratching they had a really tough time seeing any colour at all! :(


Cut out the face and recycle the scraps.

ADD A STICK (If you want)

You can add a holding stick on the back of the mask for if you prefer. Popsicle sticks work just fine.

Cardboard Masks

Year 6 | 3 Sessions


What You'll Need:

  • Cardboard

  • Scissors

  • Pens & Markers

  • Pencils

  • Colouring materials of your choice, like Crayons, Paint, Oil Pastels

  • Glue Sticks

  • Craft knife (Optional)

What To Do:


Plan some faces in a sketchbook or on paper using inspiration from Kimmy Cantrell's page.


Draw your best/favourite face onto some plain cardboard with a black marker. (Or start with a pencil and go over it with marker)


Use tracing paper to trace over the features you plan to make raised. Turn the tracing paper over and rub the back of it with something hard like a pen lid or glue stick. The marks will transfer to the cardboard (a separate piece of cardboard).

If you plan to make some features stand out more than others, you'll need to make a few copies of those features, using the same tracing paper method. Think of these as layers, each piece will be layered on top of one another to make them stand out more.


Cut out all your facial feature pieces.


Glue little slivers of cardboard in between layers to make some features pop out even more. Glue the features onto the main face.


Remove some paper layers of the cardboard to reveal the corrugated insides. Use that for added texture.


Colour the face and features in with

ADD A STICK (If you want)

You can add a stick on the back if you want to hold it up against your face

Have you tried any of these?

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