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Masks of clay.

The study of masks can be both exciting and informative. Students come away from this type of lesson with pride and satisfaction in the product they've created.

The masks made by my students were based on the study of Ancient Egyptian masks, masks of medieval England and contemporary mask trends. We used the slab method of clay production to achieve our final product.

The sixth graders study world cultures as an integral part of their social studies. The integration between this content area and art provided a rich source for extended learning. We looked at slides of Egyptian artwork, read pertinent material and discussed its possibilities for our own art. Our study of medieval England ranged from the examination of heraldry to a student production of Macbeth. Plans for harlequins, jesters and royalty took root. We also looked at modern mask trends and how our own work could benefit from their influence. All of this research provided a vehicle for improving reading and creative writing skills, a wealth of vocabulary and exposure to a variety of cultures.

The actual production of the masks began with a demonstration of the slab method. Students rolled out slabs of clay to approximately 1/4" thickness using a plastic picnic knife to cut out a face shape. The slab form was then placed on a rounded surface such as a shallow bowl covered with paper towels. They were then ready to build their faces to suit their choice of time period and trends.

After the masks were completed and leather-hard, they were removed from the forms and set to dry. The masks were then bisque fired and ready for glazing. Many students chose to underglaze with a variety of colors and to apply a clear overglaze, while others used regular glazes for different effects. Projects were then glaze fired.

Upon completion, all masks were displayed for staff and parents to view and proudly taken home.

Linda Rocks is the art instructor at Sureno and del Norte elementary schools, Kyrene, Arizona School District.
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Title Annotation:art lesson
Author:Rocks, Linda
Publication:School Arts
Date:Oct 1, 1991
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