Saturday, June 19, 2010

Polymer clay masks

I do a Ton of projects each year with my K-8th graders. And honestly most of those projects come from other people. Beg, Barrow, Steal and all. However, occasionally, my little brain comes up with it's own projects. This I think is my best one yet and can be used for so many different things. I was blown away with the success rate and the students really really enjoyed the media and process. I had no clue it would work so well so I did not take any in process photos but it is really self explanatory. So without further ado...Polymer clay masks!

Unit: African Masks 6-8th grade (adaptable for lower and upper grades)
Research: Art Factory African Mask Page, teacher created web scavenger hunt
Goal: Choose the mask you like best from your research and re-create it in polymer clay. Then create a flag book and included six facts about your mask on the flags of the book.
For mask:
*2 copies of mask to be created
*wax paper
*polymer clay (I used Bake Shop Clay by Sculpty because it is cheap, soft and comes in lots of colors)
*butter knives
*Plastic rolling pins
(directions for making Flag books are available all over the Internet. Make sure to use a sturdy cover so you can glue your masks on)

Step 1. After having students research the masks I had them choose their fav. I printed out black and white line drawings of all the masks from the website. I made them about 3x5 inches.
I then had students take two copies of the same mask. Set one aside and lay a piece of wax paper on top of the second copy and tape everything to the table (Put name on wax paper)

Step 2. I showed the kids how to warm up the clay and told them to use the techniques we use from our regular clay work to make slabs, snakes and cut out shapes. They dug the fact that no slip or score was required. I asked each student to choose one base color, roll a slab and cut out the overall shape of the mask. Lay the slab on the wax paper. Cut out eye holes if you want them.

Step 3. After that I let the kids go to town. They keep referencing the uncovered copy of the mask and had a great time using their clay skills to add decoration. I allowed students to make the masks any colors they want. Some choose to make their masks traditional colors and some went for a more modern approach. Students added coils, balls, cut out shapes, incised with pencils and mostly worked out their design issues on their own. My main job was dolling out the clay and picking it up at the end of class.

Step 4. When the students were done making their masks I took them home, plopped the wax paper on cookie sheets, baked them for a few min and gave them back to the kids. Their names were on the wax paper. We then took our hard mask and used a hot glue gun to add them to the front of our research flag books.

I feel this is a great method to take art history to a whole new level. I plan to use this technique several times next year to have students re-create famous works of art in polymer clay. I think doing Van Gogh this way would be amazing! Or how about having students choose a illustration from their fav picture book and making it in clay. The possiblities are endless!

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