Thursday, May 5, 2011
African-inspired tooling foil relief masks
My 6th graders have been working hard on these. Today I was name-tagging for the art show, and wanted to get pics of these for you before they were all tagged. When more of them are done, I'll post another batch.
The kids were given some basic design guidelines: symmetrical design, exaggerated stylized features, elongated noses, use of geometric shapes and repeated pattern; and looked at a large variety of samples for idea inspiration. Then they were shown the steps for tooling the foil and getting deep relief where desired.
The masks were painted with soap and India ink, and when dry were rubbed with steel wool for an antiquing effect and to enhance the pattern and detail. Then the kids added color as desired with either permanent markers or acrylic paint mixed with gloss.
Kids were offered the opportunity to add to the mask with coiled wire, yarn, raffia, and beads. Finally they picked the color of their choice from a pile of mat board pieces to use as background. My awesome picture-framer gives me the scrap mat board and old picture frames, and I am very appreciative of and thankful for this donation.
I know the mask in the middle above particularly doesn't look African, but as long as the kids stuck with the basic guidelines to start with, I let them take their ideas and run with them. I think sometimes I try to impose too much of my aesthetic values on the kids, so I decided to let them finish them how they wanted. However I did stop the girl who made the mask on the left above from putting heart-shaped beads on the earrings - just TOO tacky for my taste - but I let them go with with pinks and purples and other goofy stuff. They are happy so I am too!
And here's 2 masks that aren't quite done yet. That's Melissa's on the left, with lots of terrific texture, and on the right is Sarah working on her monkey/lion mask. She always takes things a step above and beyond everyone else. Cool. I'll try to post photos of these when they are complete.
By the way, I use tooling foil w/6th grade every year, but don't repeat the same project 2 years in a row. It's more fun that way. Don't tell the kids, but I'm planning on dragons next year...
Years ago, there was a nice article on making these masks in School Arts magazine, and then a couple of years after, I took a hands-on Friday night workshop at our state art teachers conference that was taught by the gal who wrote the article. I got lots of great tips from her for making the reliefs really pop.