From DIY home decor to handmade gifts, here are the best arts and crafts to spark your creativity

Making a Princess Mononoke Costume

Last Halloween my daughter wanted to be Princess Mononoke.

I figure, heck, I got this! After a little Internet research and some brainstorming I figured out my approach and set to it. I even took some pictures along the way in case I wanted to load this puppy onto Instructables, like I'm doing right now!

So if you are interested in making your own Princess Mononoke costume I hope this Instructable comes in use. Enjoy!

The Materials

Here is a list of essentials you will need to make your own Princess Mononoke costume:

- Paper-clay

- Paints (to paint with!)

- Wood carving blade (to carve with!)

- A big round bowl, or anything that matches the general shape of the mask

- A white fluffy fur skin (I bought mine at Ikea for $30!)

- A creative mind to improvise other accessories (yah... thanks tips!)

After muddling over various materials I decided on paper-clay because it is both affordable and well reviewed by others. I must admit, this stuff is pretty neat! It is just paper dust and powdered cellulose. Add water and you have something halfway between paper-maché and clay. It took a while to get used to, but after this project I can definitely say that I’ll use it again.

Making the Mask Form

Shown above you can see what the paper clay looks like mixed up. Make sure you don’t add too much water or the material won’t be easy to work with. The trick I found was not adding too much water immediately. Just a sprinkle a bit and try to work it through evenly. Knead it in well.

NOTE: It will take DAYS to air dry so put it in the oven, 150 Fahrenheit, and it should be sufficiently dry in a few hours. Once dry, you can use a wood carving blade to carve smoother details into your piece.

ANOTHER NOTE: this was my first time using the material and I mixed it with way too much water initially. This made it take a painfully long time to dry. Also, because the only bowl I had was plastic I could not speed the process with the oven. It also became tricky taking the piece out of the bowl without damaging as there was some suction. Were I to do it again I would have mixed with less water and lined the inside with saran-wrap to help for removal.

YET ANOTHER NOTE: This stuff is quite... well... dusty. As soon as I opened the bag it releases an ultra-fine dust that coated the entire counter and everything on it. Also, they say this stuff is non-toxic, but you probably do not want to inhale paper-dust.

Building-up the Mask

Here you can see some some rings I made to help build up the form around the eye and mouth openings of the mask. Baked them till hard before using.

Though not shown, the process of cutting the eyes and mouth holes for the mask form is pretty easy. Using a compass, trace out the holes, then cut the holes out using your wood carving blade. Such a simple and automatic process that I even forgot to take a picture (nice excuse).

After making the rings to build up the eyes and mouth I applied enough paper clay to form the face. One thing I noticed with paper clay is that it does not hold its weight well when built up. Better to take your time, build up a bit and bake, afterward applying an additional layer, continuing as necessary until the desired form has been achieved.

If you make any mistakes, you can always cut away the material, score it a bit with your blade, add more material, and oven dry. It is a pretty forgiving medium.

Carving the Details

One great thing about paper clay is that once it is completely dry it actually had a form and consistency similar to a very light wood. Makes sense, considering what it is made from.Using a wood carving kit I was able to clean up the surface and details, giving everything a much smoother look.

The fact that you can carve the material afterwards is the single trait of this medium that will have me using it again. You could even make a simple mask and carve intricate details onto the surface. Lots of possibilities with this stuff.


This is a pretty straight forward step.

First I coated the mask twice with a healthy serving of gesso. Then I made an attempt at color matching, and while they may not be 'pan-tone' caliber, I feel I made a decent attempt.

I also found that crisp and thick black lines helped give the mask that final finish.

Making the Ears

To make the ears I figured out an easy form you can copy from the illustrations provided. I used regular paper to make the 'prototype' ears. After settling on a size that seemed appropriate I used board from a cereal box to make the ear forms. Then I used paper-clay to build the shape of the ears around the cardboard form. (Sorry, I was having so much fun with the ears I forgot to take a picture of the building process!)

Bake in the oven to dry and paint.

Fastening the ears to the fur was pretty easy. I poked four holes into the base and fastened to the fur, much like buttons, using a heavy gauge thread.

Accessories and Improvisation Skills

Alright folks, I won't hold your hand at this point. If you're the sort of person who is actually willing to put the time and effort into making this costume, I'll bet my left shoe that you're clever and resourceful enough to figure out the rest.

As you can see from the pictures, I just used things I found in the house. Either way, if you've made it this far then I have faith in you!

You're Done!

In the last step I commented on improvisation. Just to add on that, the spear shown above was a complete after-thought, but really, it was not hard to make. I used an old curtain pole for the shaft and painted it. I made the spearhead out of paper-clay (which by this time I had become quite adept with). The red ribbon I found in our Christmas box.

And there you have it! Hope you enjoyed!


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