9 Essential Tips For A Successful Plaster Mask Lesson

Previously, I talked about the nitty gritty details of setting up and executing an amazing plaster mask lesson in your room. I’d love to continue and share  9 Essential Tips to make this lesson a success.




1.  Video tape your demonstration.
I don’t normally video tape my demonstrations, but I did for this lesson.  Since there are so many steps, materials, and tips regarding the process, I like to show the video and stop it when I want to add comments or to answer questions. This also insures all students receive the same demonstration. I had my niece come in on the weekend and be my model.


2. Precut your plaster strips.
I purchase this plaster. It comes in a long rectangular piece. I have students cut 1.5-2 inch strips and put them into buckets before the plastering day.


Plaster Box


3. Encourage participation.
Some students will immediately say they don’t want their faces plastered. After some explanation, a demonstration, and a one-on-one conversation easing their fears, most students are willing to participate without hesitation. However, there are always a few students who don’t want to get their faces plastered.


4. Offer to plaster at a different time.
Sometimes I offer to plaster students’ faces after school depending on the reason behind them not wanting to have their faces plastered during class. I really want them to be able to participate and sometimes it’s just a matter of them being too shy or having peer issues. This is my second to last resort.


5. Purchase plastic facial molds.
My last resort is having students plaster a plastic facial mold. Purchase a couple of them to have on hand for students who refuse to have their faces plastered.


Plastic Face Mold


6. Let students freshen up after.
Middle school girls are often concerned with the Vaseline taking off their makeup, so remind them the day before they get their faces plastered to bring their makeup to school.  I allow them to go to the bathroom to reapply after they have taken off their masks.


7.Ask for help. 
Parent volunteers will help the success of this lesson. It’s very hard to be in so many places at once. Having another adult in the room helps with the flow and minimizes stress.


8. Discuss ground rules extensively
I’m a stickler for the rules and procedures for this lesson. There is no room for horseplay of any kind when wet plaster is being applied to someone’s face. I remind students to take their time and treat their partners the way they would want to be treated.


9. Collect a variety of supplies to use for students to decorate. 
The more “junk” you have for students to decorate their masks with, the better. Some supplies include yarn, cardboard, jewels, pipe cleaners, feathers, fabric, beads, sequins, Styrofoam, buttons, and paint.

Have you used plaster in your room before?

Tell us, what are your insider tips?

Cassidy Reinken

This article was written by former AOE writer and life-long learner, Cassidy Reinken.


  • Rina_k6art

    I do two plaster wrap projects each year with my fifth graders. I also buy 20 lb boxes of the plaster wrap. My number one tip: cut the strips on the paper cutter. I cut a double or triple layer at a time. To clean the cutter, I sweep the dust thoroughly, and wipe it down. Next I cut some aluminum foil – this sharpens the blade. We twist the foil into horns and tusks for our masks.

    • I didn’t know that about aluminum foil! Thanks for sharing.

    • Lisa

      I have 6 fifth grade classes (22-25 stu. each). I have never used the plaster wrap before but would love to! Could you tell me how much would I need to buy to do either a mask or similar size project?? Thanks!

      • I would estimate roughly 75 students per box, give or take.

        • Rina_k6art

          Same with me, unless we have a whole lot of kids adding horns/large pop-outs. If that is the case, I go with 1 box/60 students, and have a little left over.

          • Lisa

            Thanks Ladies! I just put in an order – now I’m excited to plan the lesson!

  • kelsey gerveler

    These are great tips, thanks for sharing! I definitely ran into some of these problems, we just finished plastering our hands so I definitely want to try faces next year!

    • You’re welcome! I’m glad you find them helpful. Best of luck!

  • Sally

    Fantastic post and tips! The previous art teacher before me left an unopened 20lb box of plaster wrap. How many 7th and 8th graders do you think I could have make a mask with that one box? Thanks!

    • Good question. I would estimate 75 students per box, give or take.

      • Sally

        Thanks! That will cover a few of my classes! Hooray!

  • katpremraj

    Just a little note: I used to work at Blick art materials in Iowa City. While the individual plaster rolls on the shelf were not specifically labeled, there were three brands: one for 89 cents a roll, one for 1.99 a roll, and one for 3.99 a roll. It’s worth asking to price and see the cheaper ones in the store! They are exactly the same size.

  • dandeliondharma

    We found that using plastic wrap as a barrier between the plaster and the student’s face (with eyes and nostrils cut out) is more successful than Vaseline. No clogged pores or slimy faces to clean, and no class time lost for students to use the bathrooms for clean up!

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  • Kiandra Parks

    I just completed the plaster project and would like to add, the plaster mask need to go in a well ventilated area and the plastic mold needs to come off the following day. I experienced mold on several mask because I did not remove the plastic mask-mold the following day and the mask suffocated. Just a heads up for those of us who have never used plaster before.