CM . . .
. Volume IX Number 3. . . . October 4, 2002
of all ages love to dress up and pretend to be someone other than
themselves. In Making Masks, Renee Schwarz provides 13 imaginative
and creative mask projects.
The book opens with a brief discussion of the types of materials needed. Some of these would be found in most homes or classrooms but others would have to be purchased (i.e. raffia, tulle, feathers, Styrofoam pipe insulation tubes). Each mask project begins with a list of required materials. Thus, the book takes a practical approach, even if some materials aren't readily available.
Also included in the introduction are mask-making techniques, a few painting tips, some safety tips, and instructions on how to make papier-mache. Some techniques require more advanced dexterity (i.e. using an X-Acto knife, gluing small bits and pieces together) and seem rather difficult for the younger students in the suggested target age range.
For those of us who are somewhat "artistically challenged," there are unfortunately no templates included in the book, and so we are on our own to follow such vague instructions as "cut eyebrows, eyeballs, tongue and crest from coloured cardboard and glue them on the mask." There are small illustrations, but nothing a child could actually trace and cut out.
I'm not sure how practical this book would be for a classroom, although at $5.95 it isn't overpriced. Younger children would need adult help and supervision. One classroom teacher could not hope to deal with an entire mask-making class, especially if students were allowed to choose a variety of mask projects. As well, projects cannot be done all at once; there is time required for paint to dry, glue to set and so on. Such restraints would also limit the classroom effectiveness of the book.
I would recommend the book despite these reservations. Some of the masks are in the "easy and affordable" category. Otherwise, the book would be an inexpensive resource to have on hand to provide a special project for a small group of students particularly interested in art, music or drama, where masks would be a creative accompaniment.
Recommended with reservations.
Ann Abel, a former teacher of high school English and French, currently is the teacher-librarian at Peterborough Collegiate in Peterborough, ON.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.