Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Plaster Masks

I have been making these plaster masks with kids for a few years now.  The results are always terrific and the students have a great time applying the masks on each other.




Here are some animal masks.





Here are some Mardi Gras or Mi cereme type masks.























MATERIALS REQUIRED:

- plaster strips,  you can buy these at craft stores (Michaels) but I prefer to get them straight from the medical supplier.  I use Stevens.  Cost wise this will save you a lot of money.  You need about 18 rolls for a class of 24.  I use Gypsona Extra Fast Plaster of Paris.  7.5cm x 2.7m.  I then cut the bandages into  4 inch (10 cm) lengths and then cut each of these into strips about 3cm wide.  I cut these straight into a flat box, you will get a lot of plaster dust so cut in top of a garbage bag or drop cloth.
- containers for water
- 1 garbage bag for each pair of students
- disposable shower caps, I get these at the dollar store 10 for a dollar
- recycled cardboard, paper tubes, egg cartons
- vaseline
- drywall compound, optional
- acrylic paint
- faux fur, feathers
- embellishments
- glue gun

PROCEDURE:
This is a 3 session project

Session#1

Have the students pair up.  I give them a little talk about being respectful and gentle with their partner.

The one who is getting the mask applied puts on the shower cap.  A garbage bag is laid out on the floor.

Vaseline is applied to the face.  Use a good layer and put extra on the eyebrows.  I only do half masks with the kids so you need only apply the vaseline to the nose.

I tell the kids to avoid the eyes, think that your partner is wearing glasses or googles.  The model needs to keep their eyes closed.

They then get some plaster strips and a container with warm water.



Dip a strip into the warm water and run your fingers down it to remove excess water.  Apply to the face on the bridge of the nose forming an "X" onto the cheek.  Do this 3 times.  This will form the base of your mask.


You need to massage each strip when you apply it to get the plaster into all the holes of the bandage.  I tell the kids to think they are at the spa!  Otherwise it will not be smooth.

You want to do 3 layers of bandages everywhere.  Avoid the nostrils and eyes.

I give each model a few kleenex in their hand so they can mop up any annoying drips but eyes need to be closed.





Make sure to get those 3 layers especially on the sides and try to have no holes.  Don't worry about the edges looking pretty as you can trim them later with scissors when the mask is removed and dried.




If some plaster gets on your clothes don't worry it will wash out.


The mask will start setting up in 15 minutes.  It make get a bit warm as well as the plaster is activated.

When it is hard remove gently from face.  I find it's easiest for an adult/ teacher to remove.  I gently lift from the bottom (by the cheeks) and ease off from the rest of the face.  The eyebrows and hairline are where the mask might stick a bit.  Just take your time and slowly ease it off.
The model can then wash their face and switch places with their partner.  Repeat the process again.  It will take approximately an hour and a half to do a whole class with a switch halfway thru.





The masks can be put aside to dry.  Although firm they will still be damp and fragile.    Set aside.




Session #2

Collect some recycled cardboard, egg cartons, and paper tubes.

Take the base mask and start adding other elements.  Use more plaster strips to attach.  We also used drywall compound to fill in the holes and for texture.  You can also trim the edges of your mask with scissors.  Any extra pieces or stray edges.


Here you can see that paper tubes (toilet paper) are used for the horns,  some cereal box cardboard is used to form ears as well as the muzzle/mouth.





When you are finished adding your extra elements set aside to dry again.







Session #3

Now it's time to finish your mask.  Using acrylic paint, paint as desired.  It's best to paint the background colours first and then add the small details.


Using a glue gun attach feathers or faux fur.  You can also add other embellishments like gems, beads, or sequins.








When the mask has dried you can poke a hole on each side by the eye using an awl or sharp point of a pair of scissors.  Attach string or cord for tying.









That's it.  A great art experience your students will never forget!







I'm off to my Maui again for Easter break.  I'm looking forward to reading, sketching, and lots of painting.


I hope to send you a few blog postcards in the coming weeks.

Have a great Easter everyone and aloha!




2 comments:

  1. Thanks for the step-by-step instructions. I like how you only do half the face- it doesn't seem so 'claustrophobic' for the students! Some great tips here- esp. about buying from a medical supplier. Thanks for sharing!

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  2. I have been looking for a simple project to delve into plaster casting for the first time! Thank you for the detailed step-by-step and beautiful work :-)

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