How to Make a Grotesque Head

Can't decide what to dress up as for Halloween? Do you feel that a simple mask doesn't show enough dedication? Do you need a better costume idea?

Look no further than the Chicago Park District Records: Drawings and Photographs. These collections, along with Grotesque Heads and Masks & Costumes, published by the Park District and the South Park Commission, respectively, and available in our Municipal Reference Collection, will tell you how to make your very own grotesque head and transform yourself into something truly unique.

As the publication Grotesque Heads will tell you, in the past, peoples from around the world "believed that the grotesque head mask of exaggerated size imparted to its wearer the superhuman powers of the animal, spirit, demon or deity that the mask was intended to represent." The Park District seemed just to think they were creepy and fun.

The drawings and guide books will instruct you to build a clay model first, using one of several methods. Then, over the clay model goes papier mache to develop the mask. Once dry, the papier mache mask is cut off the model and laced back together to fit over the wearer's body.

Come into Special Collections to view more drawings and photographs to inspire your own Halloween costume. And check out our catalog for more Halloween craft ideas. Be sure to share photos of your grotesque heads with us!

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