A Paper Mache Head: A Solution to Zoom Fatigue


Are you tired of endless online meetings on Zoom? Imagine a guilt-free break from the monotony of virtual hangouts, where you can skip without feeling judged. Picture yourself as an attentive listener during your in-laws’ discussion about lifting isolation restrictions, without having to actively participate. Envision a video conference where you can close your eyes or do anything else while appearing fully engaged. Believe me when I say, I have a solution to bring you this much-needed relief.

The Art of Papier-Mâché

“Papier-mâché,” which means “chewed paper” in French, has been used since 200 B.C. The technique involves using pulpy scraps of paper mixed with paste or flour. It gained popularity in the Georgian and Victorian periods in Britain for creating decorative objects. Now, in 2020, an American has taken this method a step further, using it to create a lifelike head and face stand-in for video conferences.

Crafting Your Own Head

To create your own papier-mâché head, you’ll need a few materials that we’ll discuss in detail. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Balloon
  • Empty soda can
  • Coins or sand
  • Newspaper
  • Flour
  • Water
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paint
  • Bravery

Step 1: Prepare Your Base and Balloon

For the base or “neck,” cut the top off a seltzer can. Fill it with coins or sand to provide stability. If you can’t find sand, coins will do the trick. As for the balloon, you can either use balloons you already have or purchase them from a convenience store. If balloons aren’t available, you can get creative with alternative options, such as condoms (for a mannequin, of course). Securely tape the balloon to the can, ensuring a sturdy connection.

Step 2: Coat the Balloon With a Flour Mixture and Paper

Create a flour mixture by combining two parts water with one part flour. If you don’t have flour on hand, you can explore alternative options online, such as glue-based mixtures. Cut newspaper into strips to use as your “skin.” Dip the strips into the flour mixture, removing excess paste, and apply them to the balloon. Repeat this process until the entire balloon is covered. Allow each coat to dry before applying another. Aim for a total of four coats, which may take a couple of days to complete.

Step 3: Create Your Facial Features

While you can add other facial features, the nose is crucial for telegraphing a head’s appearance. Fold newspaper into a nose shape, tape it to the skull using painter’s tape, and cover it with the newspaper and paste mixture. Gradually, your papier-mâché head will start to resemble your own.

Step 4: Bring Your Head to Life With Paint

Once the features are dry, it’s time to paint. Begin by painting flesh tone onto the face. For the neck, choose a simple outfit to paint, avoiding anything too flashy. Consider a classic black turtleneck or a versatile option that won’t draw attention in every Zoom call. Take your time while painting your face, paying attention to the details that make you unique. Though it doesn’t need to be photorealistic, strive for a close resemblance to your real face.

Step 5: Style Your Hair

If you have yarn from knitting, that can be used for hair. Otherwise, get creative with newspaper strips painted to match your hair color. Create curls by scrunching the “hair” with your hands. You can even add a touch of pink paint as blush to enhance your Zoom-ready look. Admire the stunning effect of your papier-mâché head, which is surprisingly lifelike.

Step 6: Embrace the Zoom Experience

Now, it’s time to reap the rewards of your efforts. Set up your second head and get ready to Zoom!

  • Connect with co-workers
  • Join a family “happy hour” Zoom
  • Celebrate special occasions with loved ones (donning a party hat)
  • Listen attentively to your dog’s tales

Frequently Asked Questions

You may have logistical questions about using your second head. Let’s address a few common concerns:

Q: Will people on Zoom notice I’m not talking?
Yes, but there are ways to handle this situation. Keep yourself on mute, and if someone points out your silence, play it off as accidental. If you must speak, stay close to the computer so you can seamlessly switch from your second head to your real head when it’s your turn to talk. The transition will be unnoticed by others.

Q: Will people on Zoom notice I’m not moving?
The likelihood is low since most participants focus on themselves or the person speaking. As long as you don’t draw attention to yourself, nobody will notice your stillness. If someone comments on your lack of movement, play it off as a technical issue by texting someone in the Zoom chat about possible connection problems.

Q: Should I feel guilty about using my second head?
If you’re resorting to an ultra-realistic papier-mâché head to avoid declining Zoom invitations from loved ones, it’s natural to experience some guilt. However, bury that feeling and remember that your loved ones won’t be hurt by what they don’t know.

Q: What should I do with my head when I’m not using it for Zoom?
Find a spot near an open window where your head can enjoy the view and feel the breeze. Alternatively, keep your head by your side while watching TV. Remember, your papier-mâché creation can be more than just a Zoom prop; it can be your reliable companion.

So, why not give yourself a break from the Zoom grind and embrace the quirky charm of a papier-mâché head? Create your own head, join your virtual gatherings, and experience the relief of having a stand-in. When the screen goes black, your papier-mâché friend will be waiting for your next adventure.

To learn more about Quill And Fox, visit Quill And Fox.