Friday, November 7, 2014

Giant Masks at DragonWing Arts!

 In my after-school art enrichment business DragonWing Arts, I currently have just three students.  Three goofy, wacky, enthusiastic, energetic, sometimes annoying, sometimes loveable, happy kids; two fourth graders, and one second grader.  That's them, in the photograph above.

This fall, our 8-week class session has focused on the face.  (Sing, to the tune of  Meghan Trainor's All About That Bass: "Because you know I'm all about that face, 'bout that face, no elbows...") 

Anyhow, we've made these masks, and completed some other projects I'll be sharing in the coming week.  We have just one more class until after New Year's, when the winter session will focus on various folk arts from around the world.  Should be fun!!!
I first posted about this mask project prior to my retirement.  The post was written September 2011, here on the blog, after I did it with my then fourth grade age students. (Oh my gosh, they are now 7th graders!)  The photo above is from that original post.  Look at that post for a larger variety of student work, and information about the process (though I will tell you about it again here anyhow).  I mentioned in that post, and I want to repeat here, that the original inspiration for these masks came from the post of blogger Lori, on her blog Fun Art 4 Kids.  Thank you, Lori!
My DragonWing students (above) started with large pieces of oaktag, folded in half and cut symmetrically.  I offered some ideas, but did not tell the kids how they had to cut their masks.  The choice was theirs.  Then, we used a combination of animal print tissue paper, leftover construction paper pieces, and leftover pieces of painted paper.  These were cut and adhered to the mask shape with a mixture of Elmer's Glue-all and water, using large foam paint brushes.  First we painted the masks with the glue mix, then put the pieces of paper where desired, and then painted over them to seal them.  We made sure to cover the white oaktag completely.  In the next class, we used the same paper assortment to add details such as eyeballs, mouths, and more, using the painted-on glue mix for large pieces, and just the glue straight from the bottle for small pieces.  The kids were encouraged to add three-dimensional elements, but honestly, they pretty much chose not to.  (The mask on the right in the photo above, with protruding nose, raised eyebrows and curly whiskers is my sample.)  Since the goal of this program is for the kids to have a positive experience, I chose not to force the issue.

In the subsequent art class, when the glue was all dry, the masks were slashed and overlapped (I stapled and hot-glued the overlap for them) to give them a curved 3-dimensional shape.  The kids also decided to add a few jewels and feathers, though not as many as I anticipated or where I expected.  Here are 'mug shots' of the kids and their completed giant masks. 
And here they are again, in a totem pole stack!


  1. I am imagining multiple totem stacks displayed in a school hallway -- GLORIOUS!!

    1. Thanks, Christie! It would be a fun way to display them (if I had more than three!), wouldn't it? The problem with making them, which I wrote about in the original blog post, is that they are BIG and my art room was an explosion of paper scraps. I think you need a special group of kids to help manage the craziness!

  2. I have just discovered your site and am crazy with excite with your creativity.

    Questions questions questions?

    What was the glue water ratio?

    Exactly how large was the tag board?
    and where did you slash/cut to give 3D effect?

    1. Nancy, let's see if I can answer - I didn't measure, but basically added a spill of water to the glue to make it creamy, so that it spread easily with a paint brush (we used foam paint brushes to avoid brush strokes, plus they cleaned up easily).

      The tag board was so big that I cut it before I gave it to the kids - I think it was probably about 18"x 24". My class is very small; if I was working with more kids I'd have made them maybe a little smaller, though I like the big size. You just need enough table space to work on them, and a place to put them to dry.

      We basically slashed on the bottom 'corners', or at least where the corners would be if we hadn't cut the masks in curved shapes. Experiment on a small sheet of paper - cut it in a mask shape, cut it and tape it to see what works! I like to experiment!