Miniature Masks with Walnut Shells

Nut shells, more specifically, walnut shells and pistachio shells, are versatile. You can make many beautiful items using them. I have made a few that are much liked by my friends and colleagues. Many of them asked me to make videos showing how I make them, but I figured that photos are more than enough. You don’t need to sit through a video to understand how I made these. I have added a few details here though. If you have further questions, feel free to use the comments section to ask me.

In this first post, I’m going to show you a few miniature masks that I made out of walnut shells. By “masks” I mean replicas of tribal masks made in many parts of the world.Walnut shell mask - tribal chief

These miniature masks are inspired by wooden and terracotta tribal masks that I have seen in some museums. You can look up examples at the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art  and in this fascinating story published by the Architectural Digest.

What I used (in addition to walnut shells):

  • my imagination (first and foremost) 
  • pistachio shells
  • glue
  • acrylic colors
  • paint brush
  • jute twine (or a substitute)

Stock up your craft materials

These little masks are simple to make – I have not used any sophisticated implements as you can see from the list above.

Walnut shells mask 2- tribal queen with plaits Walnut shells mask s - man with jute crown Walnut shell masks 4: man with jute mustache

One half of a walnut shell forms the face. So, a prerequisite is to break the walnut in two halves. I succeed mostly, but some break in weird shapes. (I try to make things with those too.) If you are worried about breaking the walnut in two halves (they don’t have to be perfect), there are a few YouTube videos you can refer to. Here’s one showing a technique I use mostly.

If you are wondering how I made the nose – that’s a pistachio shell stuck on the face with glue and colored over. I have used strips of jute twine for hair and headband, sometimes also mustache and beard. You can use any other material, such as silk or nylon thread.

I painted the eyes on the walnut shells to make them look asymmetric as I have seen on some actual tribal masks . For some of them, I also used colored jute twine to make the lips as you can see this one below – it does make the mouth look wide and lips full.

Walnut shells mask 5 - man with painted face

I made a whole tribe of walnut shell mini masks and pasted them on blue, handmade paper. I intend to frame this set and place it in my living room.

A collection of heads made of walnut shells

If you like my idea, please leave a comment.

If you make a few miniature masks for yourself, I’m sure you’ll use your imagination to enhance the look.s. Do send me a few photographs.

If you are looking for wooden or terracota masks to purchase for your home, click one of these:


Click here to know more about me.

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