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Creating sculptures is exciting and fun for students of all ages. Maybe it’s the fact that three-dimensional works of art are frequently outnumbered by two-dimensional works of art in art curriculums, making them extra special. Or, maybe it’s because of the unique and interesting materials used in sculptures such as cardboard, wire, masking tape, plaster, plastic, and more. One thing is for sure, students love creating 3D works of art. Today I’d like to talk to you about plaster, and specifically plaster masks. I’ll talk a bit about my past experience with masks and then get into some really specific “how-to’s” so that you can successfully complete plaster masks in your own room.
My first encounter with a plaster mask happened back in 1992, when I was in fourth grade. My art teacher at the time, Mrs. Sill (who happens to be my Mom) taught a lesson on plaster masks. She had a whole class of fourth graders plaster each other’s faces.
Here I am, proudly showing off the finished product.
Okay, so I might not have been proud at the moment, but I sure am now! I even added extra yarn to my mask when I was in high school.
The plaster mask lesson was a staple in my Mom’s curriculum. It was her students’ favorite lesson. The wide variety of themes her students came up with amazed me. I never saw two masks look alike. You could tell the students put so much effort into planning, designing and creating the masks.
Naturally, when I became an art teacher, I wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps and teach a plaster mask lesson to my students. This lesson is currently in my Eighth Grade curriculum but I’ve taught it to students as young as Fifth Grade. Plastering students’ faces can be nerve wracking for you and the students, but I promise you, in the end, it will be worth it, and they will love this project.
Here is the mask of one of my students. This student was very interested in graffiti so he created himself wearing a respirator like a graffiti artist.
Below I will detail exactly how I teach this lesson in my room including room set up and what the students and you, the teacher, should be doing at each step along the way. Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to download the one-page PDF of this lesson.
Students That Are Getting Their Faces Plastered Should…
The best part of this project is how engaged and successful students are throughout this process. They are really working in teams with their classmates. It’s bound to be a hit in your classroom!
Hint: remember to take photos of your students holding their masks up to their faces!
Tell us, how have you used plaster in your classroom?
What do you think about plastering your student’s faces?