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Products Used

Clay & Mold

5 lbs of low-fire clay body (Cone 06/05), CD-1076 Oval Tray


SC-15 Tuxedo SC-27, Sour Apple, SC-31 The Blues, SC-32 Bluebeard, SC-53 Purple Haze, SC-65 Peri-Twinkle, SC-74 Hot Tamale, SC-75 Orange-A-Peel

Design Tools

AC-213 Sponge on a Stick 1¼"Diameter, AC-223 Large Writer Tip, CB-106 - #6 Script Liner, CB-110 #10/0 Liner, CB-604 - #4 Soft Fan, CD-1075 Small Designs Press Tools, ST-379 Totem Blanket

Additional Materials
Pencil, Paper Towels, and Palette
CD1076 BlueStamps


For grade levels 9-12

In the early 20th Century, artists like Pablo Picasso and Andre Derain were inspired by the bold abstract designs that they discovered in African tribal masks. They collected and used these works of art to influence their own style. In effect, they used African culture to refresh the tired tradition of figure painting in Western Art.

African masks are an integral part of a ceremonial costume. They are used in religious and social events to represent the spirits of ancestors or to control the good and evil forces in the community. They come to life, possessed by their spirit in the performance of the dance, and are enhanced by both the music and atmosphere of the occasion. Some combine human and animal features to unite man with his natural environment. This bond with nature is of great importance to the African and through the ages masks have always been used to express this relationship.


  • Students will learn the steps of creating with clay including construction, bisque firing, glazing, and glaze firing

  • Students will use technology resources to research various types of masks, choosing one to replicate

  • Students will understand the purpose of these masks in African culture and their influence in art today

National Standards

  • Understanding and Applying Media, Techniques, and Processes
  • Using Knowledge of Structures and Functions
  • Choosing and Evaluating a Range of Subject Matter, Symbols, and Ideas


Construction Technique:
  1. With a rolling pin on canvas, roll out a piece of moist clay ¼" thick between wooden slats.
  2. Form over the hump side of CD-1076 Oval Tray using a sand bag Trim off excess clay.
  3. Draw on placement of facial features.
  4. Add clay to form the nose, eyelids and mouth.
  5. Use a straight edge to trace on headband design. Sgraffito in headband and the zigzag design.
  6. Press in triangle shape using press tool from CD-1075 Small Design Press Tools all around the headband, the head, and the forehead details.
  7. Press in the circle shape from the press mold for the circle detail on cheeks and chin and around eyelids and nose.
  8. Allow to dry completly.
  9. Bisque fire to shelf cone 04.
Glazing Directions:
  1. Using a CB-604 #4 Soft Fan, apply 3 coats of SC-31 The Blues to the blue sections of the face. While still wet, use a CB-106 #6 Script Liner to apply SC-65 Peri-Twinkle to the highlighted areas to lighten.
  2. Brush in SC-32 Bluebeard to the shadow areas of the facial features to give depth.
  3. Apply 2-3 coats of SC-27 Sour Apple to the cheeks and the chin. Brush on strokes over and under the eyes.
  4. Apply 2-3 Coats of SC-74 Hot Tamale to the lips. Thin SC-32 Bluebeard to wash over the lips to dull the red.
  5. Apply color to the triangles using an AC-223 Large Writer Tip with SC-74 Hot Tamale and SC-75 Orange-A-Peel.
  6. Dot the circles with SC-15 Tuxedo
  7. Use the AC-213 Sponge on a Stick to pat the ST-379 Totem Blanket stamp with SC-15 Tuxedo. Press the totem design on the large areas of the blue color. Allow to dry.
  8. Stilt and fire to shelf cone 06


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