African-Inspired Mask and Totem Pole, A Guest Post from Cory Triplett

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Today’s guest post is from our old friend, Cory Triplett. You know him from his previous posts about a Paper Mache Mummy and Sarcophagus, a Paper Mache Panther, and some fabulous Paper Mache Masks. Cory and his students always come up with wonderful projects, and I think this one is a real treat. I’ll let Cory take it from here:

I completed the African inspired mask and the totem pole for examples for my 7th and 8th grade art classes. The mask was made from oatmeal containers. The features were made from newspaper, cardboard and dowel rods.

The totem pole began as a simple shipping tube. The details were created by packing newspaper together and adding tape to stick it all together. I wanted to make my totem pole different from traditional totem poles by making the animals more 3 dimensional. It has been a huge hit at the school!

The totem pole is currently on display in our school’s library along with Jonni’s book “How To Make Masks” and the thorn mask that I made for that book. The students are excited to jump in to paper mache this year. Paper mache has become a tradition for my classes and all of the students seem to look forward to using it!

Click on the images below to see them full-sized:

Thanks, Cory! I can see why they’re such a hit at the school – I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like them before.

~By the way, if you would like to see the thorn mask that Cory mentioned, it appeared in the gallery section of my mask book along with creations by Jim Kransberger and Sharon Moreno. You can see all three masks if you click here and then use the “Look Inside” feature. Cory’s mask is on page 96. You’ll need to log in to your amazon.com account to see that many pages, of course.

I’m still amazed that these three artists not only agreed to try out the new materials and methods that are in the book, but they also agreed to let me to publish the very first masks they made after reading just a few pages of instruction. That takes some major talent (and courage!). Thanks again to all three of you for being such a huge help!

5 thoughts on “African-Inspired Mask and Totem Pole, A Guest Post from Cory Triplett”

  1. Bill,
    I usually give my classes a week-week and a half each to build/modify and then to paint. Each class session last around 42 (minus the time to get supplies and clean up, so really we only get about 20-25 minutes). I hope this helps with setting up you classes. Good luck!


  2. Jonni and Cory,

    First let me say that the examples above and in the book are both inspirational and intimidating, because they set the bar of creativity and artistic quality so very high. But I’ll try to focus on the inspirational side 😉

    Second, I wonder if you could give me some feedback, based on your experience, on how a class for mask-making might be scheduled. We’re trying to pull together about a half-dozen kids, mostly teens and all part of commedia dell’arte group, to make masks. As always it’s difficult to find times when everyone can get together, so we want to get as much done as we can in each session. Based on my reading of the book – but not having made any masks myself, yet – I think it might work if we divide the work across four sessions:
    – making the face mold
    – creating the mask mold and laying up the mask
    – removing the mask, finishing the surface with gesso and wet polishing
    – painting

    Is that an appropriate amount of work for each session? I’m trying to be aware of the drying time in each step, but fit as much in as we can. . .


  3. I love the idea of the totem pole, it is a new way of seeing. You have a lot of budding artists in your classes and that totem pole will be a brilliant addition to the school decor. It also helps your students think outside the box. I never get tired of seeing the projects these talented kids are capable of. Keep up the good work.


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