We had spent so much time creating coloured spaces for our shadows, it was clearly time for us to inhabit them. Referencing the giant cardboard mask they had all enjoyed so much at the introductory session (see blog and image) and showing them again how it had worked on the screen, and referencing also the fact that someone had made a monster the previous week, I suggested they all might like to make some Giants or Monsters or Queens and Kings themselves. In fact, in the event, the majority of them elected to make giant self portraits of themselves instead!
Before we started we looked at a couple of mask books I had – Mexican masks and Commedia dell Arte masks, and used large sheets of sugar paper to “collect” ideas for different kinds of eyes, mouths, brows, noses etc. This was quite helpful in terms of introducing the idea of drawing the different features. Each child was given a large sheet of heavy paper and encouraged to draw a huge head on it and they set to enthusiastically, supported by the Special Assistants and teachers in cutting out eyes, brows etc so that they could be seen with some assisting with drawing where necessary. The children were also encouraged to choose coloured cel and scrap materials to colour features once cut out, collage hair, etc. I had long thick strips of card ready to make a head band to which these heads could be attached and then worn on top of the child’s own head, the curve of the headband helped to make the mask face stay upright, but we also used skewers taped on the back from band up to top of head to provide additional support.
The children were delighted with their masks and their altered shadows and got a lot of pleasure from performing with their own new shadows. Some children wished to return to the activities they had enjoyed so much the previous two weeks – with one boy again piling different colours, and things onto the projector, and another, using the same materials to draw as he had the previous session, so the overhead projector was a distraction in that respect today and it would have been better had we been able to darken the room sufficiently to use the desk lamp I had brought instead. But in another way it was good to see them returning to activities that had given them pleasure before and perhaps developing what they were doing with them and reinforcing their learning, so we let this happen when it did and were glad that we had the two projectors to allow this split focus on occasion.
Materials and resources:
Sample mask head
Light source – The overhead projector in this case the desk lamp being too weak
Sheet, string and pegs to create screen
Large sheets of heavy paper
Strips of cardboard
Staplers and staples
Cutting mats and knives for the adults, high shelves and bumbag to keep these safe
Scissors, glue and cellotape
Scrap coloured cells, collage materials which cast interesting shadows as previous weeks