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Creating lasting impressions.

Creating lasting impressions

EVERYONE SEEMS INTRIGUED WITH the idea of making masks from a mold of their own faces. This project creates several lasting impressions that can be displayed and enjoyed. The following lesson describes how to make the cast and take two impressions from it, one in papier-mache and the other in clay.

Making the mold The cast from the face is made from a plaster bandage material. Cut strips from this bandage not more than 2" (5 cm) long. Tie hair back and heavily grease the face with petroleum jelly, especially over the eyebrows and along hairline. Some kind of headband should be used to keep hair from falling into face.

In teams of two, one student applies plaster strips to the other's face. Starting with the nose area, lay the strips lightly onto the face with care not to cover the nostrils and eyes. (If desired, these areas can be covered after the mask has been removed from the face.) It only takes about two or three layers to make the mask strong enough to be removed from the face.

Some people use a hairdryer to hurry the drying process, but the mask will dry on its own in twenty to thirty minutes. The plaster bandage will feel warm during the drying process. When this warmth has subsided, the mask can be gently removed from the face. It should be placed in a work area to dry. At this time, the nostril and/or eye areas may be covered with bandage material. The following day, the cast mask edge can be trimmed with scissors before an impression is made.

The papier-mache mask To make a papier-mache impression from the mold, heavily grease the inside of the mask mold with petroleum jelly. Then make papier-mache strips using newspaper dipped in paste, and lay three layers inside the mold. Allow to dry. The following day, remove the papier-mache from the mold, and trim and decorate it. This particular mask can be worn comfortably for dramatic projects because it is lightweight and fits the face. Strings or elastics can be attached in the eye area to hold the mask in place.

The ceramic portrait mask Again, heavily coat the inside of the mold with petroleum jelly. Then, press clay which has been prepared for firing into the mask mold and allow to dry. This may take several days. As the clay dries, it will shrink in the mold, so it will not be difficult to remove. To hang this mask after it has been fired, poke holes on either side of the eye area while the clay is still wet. Bisque fire the clay mask and glaze and refire it, if desired.

Now, return to the original mold and clean and paint it. Some students enjoy spray painting the mold and rolling the face area in sand for an unusual surface effect. All three masks make interesting displays and can be kept for a lifetime.

PHOTO : Left: inside of plaster cast mold that has been painted at end of process. Right: fired

PHOTO : and glazed ceramic cast.

PHOTO : Students at work making mold masks from pariscraft.
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Title Annotation:face masks
Author:Gregory, Anne
Publication:School Arts
Date:Mar 1, 1989
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Next Article:George Segal: photographs and sculpture.

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