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When we used the plaster strips we plugged noses with cotton, and cut a
short straw to put in the mouth. We used a thin layer of Vaseline
(careful around the eyes).
The day before working, I gave a demonstration on the material and
process (preparing themselves and using the plaster...) and we cut the
plaster strips in to manageable pieces. Everyone was assigned a partner
and a work space. On the day of, all materials were ready as the class
walked in. The kids did a great job, I can remember telling one student
to step out into the hall - but out of all the kids, he was the only one
that couldn't handle the responsibility of working with the
materials/others I sent a note, directions and materials home to his
parents - they did it with him and he brought it back in to class.
Here's the difference...
One year we had plaster gauze donated by a parent (Dr.)... It came on a
roll and was quick setting. We were able to remove the masks in about
15 minutes, and start the next one. The entire class finished in one
class period. (Now there is even faster setting gauze)
Another year I purchased large boxes of plaster strips. They were
definitely the end pieces of something... some of the gauze didn't even
have plaster on it.... it was flimsy and hard to use. We ended up using
more of it than the roll kind just to cover... The masks weren't as
strong either... and it took a class period for each group to do one
So if your supply is enough for the number of kids - check the quality.
I don't know if it sounds like enough... ( I think it took a roll and a
half for each mask... these are sold in craft stores too... you could
check the weight and compare for an estimate.) In an art catalog, it
says a 20 lb. box is enough for 35 - 40 medium projects...
A roll weighs about 0.5 lb., plan on 0.75 per mask... you would need
about 67 lbs. of plaster gauze.
I don't do them any more, but not because of the plaster. Most of the
students kept the original shape of the face and wouldn't 'break the
border'. We tried using wood for a couple of years... but it was too
flat for me, and took too much time to cut out. The plaster and wood
were almost cost prohibitive.
For the last few years, we have done paper mache masks. The money I
saved on wood and plaster gauze went towards materials to embellish...
and I liked these the best. If you don't feel comfortable with plaster
masks, maybe compromise and do another type of mask, and save the gauze