The Second Chapter- Character Masks [Clay]


Continuing from what Ana introduced last class, today we looked a little bit closer at Native American masks, and how certain animals represented certain characteristics. We sat around in a circle and Naomi had some pretty interesting pictures and a mask sitting in the middle of the circle.

Mysterious objects!

Mask examples are found in the middle of the circle! What kind of characters do you see in these masks? How do you figure that out?

We talked about how masks portray a character as well as a feeling, and how the personality can be shown! Students brainstormed thinking about the features of the face that express personality or feeling! Arrangement of eyebrows, the position of their mouths (is it a smile or a frown?), and the shape and effect of the eyes were all ideas students discussed in the circle!

After a discussion, the students were sent off to their tables- which were all set up and ready to go for the exploration in clay and mask making! First, they had to grab smocks to cover themselves up (clay is very messy!) and a newspaper, and bring it back to their seats! Naomi asked the class what an armature was, and explained that it was something that is used to help hold up a sculpture- in this case, it helps shape the mask! Using newspaper, she instructed the students to crumple up the newspaper to the size they want their masks to be, and went around with tape so they can keep shape underneath the clay.

Armature gif

Process of making an armature! Click to see the slideshow!

The armature is all done! They were then wrapped in plastic bags, and were given their clay. They had choices between red, white, and brown- though they had the option of doing a combination of the three. Either way, the students would be able to paint them after the masks are fired in the kiln. For now, the students had to learn how to flatten the piece of clay out and to make them to thinner slabs as a base to wrap on top of their armature. Naomi showed them several ways, and some of the students decided to experiment on their own!

After sitting their base slabs on the armature the students had the chance to finally start working on their characters! While many chose animals that they felt a direct connection to (totem animal), they were asked to consider the personality traits and characteristics of their animals or creatures that they were creating. This helps develop the character’s story! While they worked, they discovered different effects and textures they could achieve through various tools, the significance of detail, and problem solved along the way!

Overall, everyone did great work, and are well on their way to grasping how to develop their characters!

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