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Lesson Plans

Re: Sculpture ideas

[ Thread ][ Subject ][ Author ][ Date ]
Mark Alexander (Alexander)mamjam)
Sat, 17 Aug 1996 20:36:36 -0500

Charlotte Griswold asked:
>>Mark, I want to know more about your masks. Did you stuff the paper
>>bags with newspapers while you were working? Was the glue used instead
>>of the cornstarch type glop that I have the sole adhesive????
>> How long did it take to dry?


The masks we make from brown paper bags use white glue is the sole adhesive
except for a couple pieces of masking tape to begin. It takes about 5
sessions with 5th graders before they are ready to decorate. This is a
rough outline of how we make them. If it is around Halloween, remind the
students not to wear the full head masks near the street, as reduced
visability may be a hazzard.

1. Use a strip of dry brown paper bag (about 1" wide , long enough to make
a head band). Fold the bag strips ahead of time. With full strength white
glue to attach the ends together, making sure it's not too a snug fit
around the head above the eyebrows, like a hat band (two fingers should fit
inside the band). Use masking tape to hold it until the glue dries, but
remove it because tape left on the inside of the head band will be an
irritant when worn.

2. Using more folded strips of dry brown bag (again about 1" wide with
folded hems for strength) and white glue attach another band from above one
ear, over the top of the head to above the other ear. Repeat, from the
forehead to the back, diagonally both ways until you have a brown paper hat
like a skull cap.

3. Use the same method as above to make a slightly LOOSE chin strap,
forward of the ears. Now you have a base on which to build the full head

4. With tape and glue, foam core, milk cartons, etc, fashion an armature
roughing out the desired mask shape, and attach it to the base. We used
scissors and exacto knives, making the armature as close as possible to the
finished shape. Geometry anyone? (The snout on my lion is made of foam
core, while one student made an African looking mask with the bottom corner
of a gallon plastic milk carton, another made an alien looking thing with
mat board scraps and paper towel tubes.)

5. In about a liter of water in a bowl, add three to five tablespoons of
white glue and mix it up. Dip torn strips of brown paper bags into the
mixture, use two fingers to squeege excess mixture off, then apply the
strips to the armature. Don't soak the strips. After dipping, try to make
each strip as dry as possible. For structural strength criss cross the
multiple layers as in paper mache. This is the step which takes the most
time and patience. My 5th graders had a hard time smoothing the edges of
each strip. To make slight ridges and bumps like eyebrows and cheek
bulges, small wads of paper towels were applied and covered with brown
paper strips. The students and I used fiber oatmeal cans (covered with wax
paper to prevent serious sticking) as kind of a hat stand for working and
drying, but some of those styrofoam wig stands would be ideal.

6. Try the damp mask on the artist's real head frequently, because
trimming around the chin might be necessary to fit it on and off. Make
sure the eye sockets, edges, mouth holes, etc. are smooth by binding all
edges with narrow strips of brown paper dampened in the white glue mixture.
The raw edges of the paper strips could be sharp when dry.

7. With 45 minute classes, by the time the masks got just about too soggy
to work it was clean up time. They dried enough for further work over
night on the shelf, although I made my sample mask in one day, with
frequent stops in the 125 degree oven to speed drying. When dry, decorate
as appropriate. Paint might be desired but isn't required because the
brown paper looks like old wood when dry. For another effect, try a final
layer of colored tissue or white paper towels or strips from colored
magazine pictures or even handmade paper. My lion had a raffia mane and
Model Magic teeth.

Have fun. If you have further questions feel free to email me again.


(Mark Alexander)mamjam
Lakeville, Connecticut, USA