I have made clay masks the following way:
give each student a board (mine were 15x9 inches) covered with paper so
the clay won't stick to it. We used masonite boards that my maintenance
guys cut to a size to fit inside the kids' storage bins.
Have kids fold a piece of paper 15x9 in half lengthwise and cut shapes
for a paper template for a symmetrical mask. (It can be made
assymetrical later.) Collect their final template.
I have a slab roller, so before they came, I rolled out slabs to fit on
each board. We stored them in plastic bags in their bins.
On the first day with wet clay, kids cut out their masks using those
really skinny kemper clay knives. Tell them to keep them vertical as
they cut so that the edges won't be beveled and all chopped up. The
left over clay is used to make coil eyes, nose, mouth, teeth, fangs,
ears, horns, or whatever to add on to the mask shapes. I also have a
coil extruder, so we frequently used coils from the extruder for
decoration, making eyes, etc. Some of the eyes were spiral or used
coils, some were made by cutting away and adding embellishment with
clay. I had lots of stamps to make patterns (to paint later) across the
cheeks, on the forehead, or whatever. I had lots of dried weeds to use
for stamps, too, as well as hardware.
leaves, seed pods, shells, and so on. This was all done after viewing a
large world collection of masks, so kids had their own ideas but based
upon what they had seen. Holes were cut for later use if they wanted to
attach horsehair, suede pieces, yarn, etc. Anyway, the masks were built
as flat slabs but kept damp in their sealed plastic bags in their
storage bins until they finished them. When finished, we rolled up
paper to lay under them and draped the masks into shape over the paper.
Most just had a roll of paper up the middle under the mask, the length
of the face. We had holes on the sides to attach wire to later. I did
not let them glaze them. Instead, we used black or terra cotta paint,
and acrylics for detail over that. Some painted their patterns that
they had stamped. We also misted some with a metallic spray paint.
Horsehair, shells, sticks, leaves, seed pods, etc. were used to make
"hair" or beards, etc. The acual making of this mask is pretty simple
The mixed media decoration was more involved. It's been about 5 years
since I last did these. Not sure I have any photos. Hope you get the
Visit our student's web art gallery at St.John's School
click on "Stories of SJS," click on "Arts Stories," click on Linda
Woods' name. View artwork by Lower, and Middle School students as well
as our art archives.