It’s impossible not to love Spirited Away’s No Face, right? Beautiful and enigmatic with the right amount of creepy makes him/her a perfect Halloween costume. This year, with a couple of work-free days right before Halloween, I set about becoming No Face with my glamorous live-in assistant, John.
Here’s what you’ll need:
- Foam board. An A1 piece gave us 2 masks with plenty left over
- PVA glue
- Sponges to make your paper mache
- White spray paint
- Cardboard, around A1 size. This will become the structure inside your costume for your mask to sit on
- Bunch of sellotape/strong duct tape
- Hot glue gun and iron clad fingers
- Black and purple markers. We also used a little purple felt as the purple marker was rubbish.
- A lot of black fabric. We got cheap black sheets in Heatons on sale. We used 2 double sheets for each costume. We could only get fitted sheets, which actually turned out to be handy for the hooded part. If you can get 1 flat sheet and one fitted sheet that would be ideal
- A wool hat or beanie
- Black long sleeved top
- Black gloves
- Black trousers/leggings/tights
- Black shoes or boots
We wanted the masks to come above our heads to get maximum height so we decided to use the mouth as our eye hole (eye hole?). I created a paper template of the mask and cut out the eyes, mouth and triangular purple bits above and below the eyes. We checked that we could see ok through the mouth. The template was approximately 50cm high by 35cm wide*. (Sorry it’s currently in the back of my car and I can’t be bothered to go measure properly.) I just free-handed the template based on No Face pictures.
Next we traced the outline of the mask and the mouth on to the foam board and cut with a craft knife (my house is full of great craft tools, if you don’t have a craft knife you could cut with scissors and a sharp knife). We used the low heat of an iron on the back of the foam board to help create a curve in the board.
Next we paper mache’d over the mask with strips of newspaper and a mix of 1 part PVA glue and 1 part water. It is super messy. Both myself and John are firm believers in half-assing projects and with our carefree “it’ll do” attitude we created a wrinkled mess. But it was fun and that’s the main thing.
We hung them up to dry and freak out the neighbours. They dried out overnight but you could use a hairdryer or handy heat gun like mine (pink for girls) to help them along. Oh we put on 3 layers of newspaper, did I mention that? John ended up with the obituary section as his top layer which felt suitably creepy and Halloweeny.
Next up we created a cardboard tube to sit on our heads like weird brimless Abe Lincoln hats. To get the height of our cardboard hats we put the (dry) masks to our face so we were looking out the mouth and made sure the cardboard was all the way to the top of the mask.
We secured the cardboard hats with a shit ton of sellotape and strong duct tape, but not John’s dad’s gorilla tape because he wouldn’t let us use it. It’s €15.99 a roll, didn’t you know that?
I used a couple of strips of cardboard to create a curve at the top of the hat. See photos as I can’t describe this.
Once the masks were dry we spray painted them white. This highlighted the beautiful wrinkled look we were absolutely going for, and wasn’t a mistake of us half-assing the paper mache. Don’t do what Johnny Don’t does here and make sure you cover your face when you use spray paint. He is now dead, RIP.
Once the white was dry we put the template back over and traced the eyes and purple triangle things onto the mask. We coloured them in with black and purple sharpies, but the purple looked a bit crap so I cut a few strips of felt and stuck those on instead. We added the black details under the eyes and mouth.
Once the mask was finished we attached it to the cardboard hat with an absolute ton of tape. To be honest I’m not sure how it lasted so long. I put the cardboard hat on John, lined the mouth piece of the mask up to his eyes and just taped and taped until it felt secure. If I did this again I’d tape it THEN paper mache and paint it. Nobody’s perfect. Lesson learned.
Once that was sorted I started to figure out how to attach the fabric. I had cut the elastic out of the fitted sheet but the seam of the corner of the sheet was still there so I put that over the curved cardboard at the top of the cardboard hat and then hot glued it like my life depended on it, folding in a hem as I went. The hot glue went on the very edge of the mask, all the way round. With the mask and robe glued into place a put it on John and cut the rest of the sheet. It’s shorter at the front to make room for his arms.
Finally I made two full length black tunic/sacks to wear underneath. You could skip this part and wear a long black skirt or dress instead.
Then the fun bit, we were both off work in the afternoon of Halloween so we headed down Limerick’s O’Connell Avenue at rush hour with our zombie cheerleader 8 year old. It was too much fun, our No Faces got lots of smiles and car horn beeps and we took photos of No Face in mundane situations the whole way. Here’s a bunch of photos:
*It’s 48×30 cm, I wasn’t too far off