Make This Amazing Plague Doctor’s Mask

Costumes, Cosplay, and Props Craft & Design
Make This Amazing Plague Doctor’s Mask

Special effects make-up artist and Instructable member, Kelly Zaks, has posted a tutorial on making this really cool, creepy-looking plague doctor’s mask. Just in time for Halloween!

I have always been fascinated by the concept of the plague doctor, an actual historical figure, bird-beaked helmet and all. Plague doctors were employed in Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries to treat patients of the bubonic plague and they actually wore the terrifying-looking costume you see in engravings and paintings.

The plague doctor’s uniform was basically an early version of a hazmat suit, with a great full-length thick leather coat, a mask with glass eye openings, and a big, broad hat. The strange beak was actually functional. It was basically an early respirator/gas mask, filled with straw, herbs and spices, scented things to keep the stench of death from the good doctor’s nose. Can you imagine dying from the plague and the last thing you see is one of these terrifying figures looming over you?

Oh, and if you were “lucky” and actually got a house call from the plague doctor, you were treated to such medical marvels of the time as bloodletting and having frogs and leeches put all over you to “re-balance your humors.”


The plague mask project doesn’t look that hard to make, especially given the seriously cool prop you get for your efforts. You’re basically dealing with sewing together five pieces of craft foam and 5 pieces of faux leather cut from templates (that Kelly provides). She has you do the extra step of taping up a paper test version of the mask to make sure that it fits your head, everything looks good, etc.


The hardest part of the project is likely having the patience to do lots of hand stitching. Because of this stitching, weight of the mask, etc, it’s best if you use the most lightweight material you can find.

It’s fun to go through the comments on the Instructable and see the pics of the masks that others have made. One person skipped the step of adding the faux leather fabric and just made theirs from colored craft foam. And no stitching. Much easier and it still looks effective.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

Gareth Branwyn is a freelance writer and the former Editorial Director of Maker Media. He is the author or editor of over a dozen books on technology, DIY, and geek culture. He is currently a contributor to Boing Boing, Wink Books, and Wink Fun. His free weekly-ish maker tips newsletter can be found at

View more articles by Gareth Branwyn


Ready to dive into the realm of hands-on innovation? This collection serves as your passport to an exhilarating journey of cutting-edge tinkering and technological marvels, encompassing 15 indispensable books tailored for budding creators.

Escape to an island of imagination + innovation as Maker Faire Bay Area returns for its 15th iteration!

Buy Tickets today! SAVE 15% and lock-in your preferred date(s).