Wednesday, March 6, 2013

African-Inspired Metal Tooling Masks

   I first learned about the art of repoussé or metal tooling when examining a copy of Tutankhamun's burial mask during a touring exhibit I visiting when I was in high school. It was hard for me to imagine such delicate work was done on one solid piece of gold. "How in the world did the Egyptians do that?" I wondered. It wasn't until a few years later while doing my student teaching, I had the opportunity to try my hand at the process. I found the meticulous balance between gentle and firm to be quite meditative and I thought it would be a really great project to try with my current group of 6th graders. When I found these encouraging examples from the There's A Dragon in My Classroom Blog, I budgeted for some 36 gauge metal and the rest was art room history!

    The goals of this lesson were to tool (push or pull) the metal from both the front and the back, to create a mask that showed symmetry, and to use a variety of textures and patterns within the design. Students were shown a variety of masks that were representative of twelve different tribes in Africa. A brief PowerPoint presentation demonstrated the different ceremonial uses of the masks. We contrasted the way masks are used in American culture (holidays, theater, safety) to African culture (communal ceremonies for various rites of passage, ancestral communication, blessings, hunting expeditions, celebrations, and funerals.) The students were asked to use the visual references as a jumping off point but to instill the mask with their own creativity.

   Students added color highlights to the mask with Sharpies and then emphasized the relief and depth of the masks by using a burnishing technique using black Acrylic paint. Students used raffia and wooden beads as a textural complement their metal work.


1 comment:

  1. Your students' masks look great! Thanks for referencing my blog post. I appreciate it!