As our culminating unit in Ceramics I, students choose a song or poem that evokes a human emotion and then create an exaggerated version of that emotion in mask form. We practice observational drawing as students use each other as models to create the plans for their masks. How do the eyes, nose and mouth look? Do wrinkles form? What do the eyebrows do? All of these details help students to enhance their emotion once they are sculpting.
The Ceramics skill that we focus on during this unit is the use of a hump mold. Students create a mold out and build their mask atop the mold in order to end with a hollow form.
I have taught this unit using several different materials, all of which have had success in different ways. We have made newspaper molds and created masks out of clay. We have also created the molds out of clay and used them to form the masks with paper mache and plaster. Due to time constraints at the end of each school year, this second option works well in that it provides the students with the opportunity to practice the hump mold technique without the drying time required when creating a mask out of clay.