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Ancient Peruvian Mask Making with Connie Clay Maker (Part II of IV)

Posted by on February 1, 2012

“This is Part II about the fantastic clay maker Connie!”  (Zack)

“On Thursday, my class got to do the clay on our MASKS!  It was superb and fun!”  (Larissa)

“On a thrilling Thursday, Connie Clay Maker appeared in our classroom after recess … and helped us MASTER the art of Step 2 on how to make a Peruvian Mask!  She plopped a bag full of clay on our desks and all of us took turns taking big hunks of clay out.  It was snow-cold.  And, it felt as squishy as a piece of moldy mozzarella cheese!”  (Galen)

Step one ... shape clay into a ball with the PALM of your hand!

“The first step to using clay is forming it into a ball with the palm of your hand.  The clay was dry and chilly in my smooth hands!”  (Natasha)

“It was hard and so dirty!”  (Brenden)

“We had to make the clay into a circle, so we did.  I found it easy to make clay into a ball.”  (Max)

“When I touched the clay, it felt like mud.  It was really wet feeling!  Then we started splatting … splat, splat goes the clay!”  (Eric)

This clay is a lot COLDER than we thought it would be!

“The first time I touched the clay it was … VERY COLD!!!  Actually, it wasn’t … it was just that I had imagined that it would be much WARMER than it was!”  (Martin)

“You need to splat the clay into a cube!”  (Damian)

Step two ... SPLAT it on your DESK to make a CUBE!

“We used WRIST action to slap the clay on our desks into a cube!”  (Sophie H.)

“She (Connie) banged the clay on the desk a few times (splatting).  When I touched the clay it was colder and rougher than I thought.”  (Jun)

“Then, repeat step one (to form a ball).  Step four … squish the clay with “bird beak hands” to make a famous fattest hamburger shape.”  (Mya)

WHAT?!? Step three ... REPEAT step ONE?!? Okay!

“Step five … roll with a rolling pin … but don’t go off the edges!”  (Jesse)

“Be careful not to drive over the edges!  I took the rolling pin and flattened it.  Once you finish rolling it into a pancake, get your mask and measure it to see if it fits.  If it doesn’t fit, keep rolling!”  (Ava)

Step four ... the ROLLING PINS!!!

“After we rolled, we flipped it and rolled (again).”  (Julia)

“We rolled it up and down and we flipped it over to roll it on its sides.”  (Rijul)

“We were rolling and rolling.  We were tired!”  (Tormod)

Oh MAN ... this is a TON of work!!! I'm glad we had good breakfasts this morning!

“We had to be careful not to roll it too thin or it will break!”  (Sophie G.)

“When you put it on, it will look flat … so weird … but once you use the palm of your hand and pat it (gently) you will start to see it shape into a face!  The face underneath made of paper plate and newspaper is what you will see!”  (Ava)

Work carefully ... if you push TOO hard, the clay will become too thin and it will CRACK! We DON'T want THAT!

Connie said "gentle fingers" ... push with your palm to find the outline of the newspaper below the clay!

“We put the (clay) on our masks and decorate it with skewers and popsicle sticks!”  (Elijah)

Wow ... who KNEW you could use SKEWERS to carve beautiful designs into clay?

“The fun part is to design your mask.  I don’t mean the colour.  I mean the little and big designs.  A big design is making a hole in the eyes, or just one eye, or the mouth!”  (Natasha)

This is SO much FUN!

“We also got sticks and used them to carve and draw how we wanted the mask to be.”   (Zahra)

“Warning:  Don’t go too deep or the clay will BREAK!”  (Jun)

Gentle! Don't go TOO deep!

“The next time she comes, she will work on the painting with us!  We are SO excited.”  (Kaylee)

After Connie left us, and the masks were set SAFELY on the countertops around the classroom, we had a conversation about when we would paint them.  Students were disappointed that painting wouldn’t happen the very NEXT day – they’ve LOVED this adventure!  We talked about how the clay needed a chance to dry SAFELY … undisturbed … and that THEN it would be FIRED in a really BIG kiln to help it harden even more.  One young man piped up and said, “I wonder where Connie got the clay.  I’d like to do this at HOME!”

Ah, yes … we have clearly discovered that ANY great experience ALWAYS leads us to MORE “I wonders”!  Well … where DOES clay come from?  Someone said “the store”.  Another student proudly told us about how, at the lake, she found some when she was digging DEEP into the ground.  She formed it into a pot … and her family helped her to FIRE it in the fire pit!  That lead us to a discussion about raku … and …  pit firing … and  how that differed from kiln firing.

“Well, if it comes from the GROUND, then WHY is it so CLEAN?” someone asked.  “Why don’t we GOOGLE that,” someone else offered.  Inquiry is TRULY messy … but … it is WELL worth the side trips, ESPECIALLY when these questions are FILLED with life lessons and connections!  So, you guessed it … we GOOGLED it!  What we found fit BEAUTIFULLY with our recently completed inquiry into Rocks and Minerals.  We discovered that clay comes from the erosion of feldspar and granite.  Funny, it doesn’t LOOK like granite!   Check out this artist’s blog to find out MORE interesting facts about clay!  Jenny Gulch tells us, in her blog, that “It’s rare to find a native clay with the working and firing properties you desire already built in. Sometimes you will, but more often you’ll have to strain out debris, add sand, or any of a number of other things to bring the clay up to your standards.”  The stuff you buy in a ceramic supplier’s warehouse has still come from the GROUND, but it has had a LOT done to it to make it “workable”!  During this search, we even discovered that some clay comes from China!

WOW! I CAN'T believe I DID this ... I could sit here and look at it FOREVER!!!

Stay tuned for Part III of Ancient Peruvian Mask Making!  We won’t be painting them until the middle of February … but, don’t worry, we will be blogging about a TON of OTHER interesting things!  Keep checking back!  Your comments help to inspire us and give us REAL purpose  and a REAL audience for our writing experiences!  (If you are from Council Bluffs … we would REALLY love to hear from you too … we’ve seen you on our revolver map … and are REALLY curious!  Thanks for checking us out!)  😉

We wonder:

  • Have you ever found raw clay at the beach, or in your backyard, and made anything with it?
  • Do you know other countries that EXPORT clay?
  • Is there anything about Part II of Ancient Peruvian Mask Making that you are still wondering about?  Maybe we can help you!

16 Responses to Ancient Peruvian Mask Making with Connie Clay Maker (Part II of IV)

  1. wally & caroline

    Wow – those masks are looking fabulous. What a great job you are all doing! We can’t wait to see the finished product.

    • May

      Wow!!! It sure is a lot of work. But the finished product is going to be absolutely beautiful. Keep us posted. Do the masks get painted?

      • Laurie Renton

        Hi, May! Thank you so much for your comment. The students love it when they get comments from others! You are right! These masks have been a TON of work … but it has sure been worth every minute! They have loved working with Connie. Today, we actually painted our masks, using acrylic paints. They’ve turned out beautifully. Please check back. We will be doing a post about the painting process, along with awesome photos of EACH of the masks. Thank you for taking the time to comment! It means so much! Laurie Renton 🙂

  2. Laurie Renton

    Hi Daytime Grandma and Grandpa! Thank you for commenting on our masks! You made our hearts warm with the nice things you said! We REALLY enjoyed the SPLATTING part of working with the clay. It felt really weird when we got to reach our hands into the bag and grab the squishy clay! It actually felt cold … a bit CHILLY in our hands! We are really looking forward to the third part of our Ancient Peruvian Mask Making adventure … PAINTING them with Connie should be fun! Keep checking back … we will paint them in the middle of February … but … we will write new posts and include pictures about lots of other things before then! Sophie G. and Sophie H. on behalf of The Grade Three Bloggers 🙂

    • Wally and Caroline

      Thank you for your reply, Sophie and Sophie. The pictures of mask making are wonderful. I think we could almost make a mask too, if we had some clay! You all look like you are really enjoying yourselves and learning so much about another culture too. What are you planning to do with your masks when they are finished?

  3. Mrs B

    Wow what an amazing experience! I loved looking at all your photos, I felt like I was learning how to make a really cool mask too!

  4. Uncle Stacey

    Very Cool! I will add to favorites and follow along on your jouney.

    • Laurie Renton

      Hi Uncle Stacey! Thank you for adding us to your favourites! That way, you will be able to keep track of our journey! We will be posting a couple of new items in the next few days … one about our Skype with Ashli after she worked to clean the building that will be the future library in Q’enqo … the other about our huge fund-raiser that the Grade Threes sponsored for the WHOLE school! The Grade Three Bloggers 🙂

  5. Cristian

    That is very cool . i wish I could do that.

    • Laurie Renton

      Hi Cristian! You CAN do that, if you try! An ARK, (Act of Random Kindness), does NOT have to be HUGE!!! You can start SMALL by just smiling at another person … or inviting them to play with you if they look lonely. Try it out … and let us know how it goes! The Grade Three Bloggers 🙂

  6. Ross Mannell

    Hello Global Grade 3,

    I must say I am incredibly impressed by your Peruvian mask making. I know I would have enjoyed taking part in the activity. I have many interests but art and craft are high on my list.

    Zack – I agree, this is fantastic.
    Larissa – I’ve also enjoyed working with clay.
    Galen – I like your description of how the clay felt. ☺
    Natasha – The first step in any activity is important. It introduces us to what’s ahead.
    Brenden – ☺ Clay is wet dirt so, you’re right about it.
    Max – I know what you mean, making the ball is the easy art.
    Eric – Great observation. ☺ Clay is wet mud and fun to use.
    Martin – Clay, especially the good quality clay you have, is great to work with.
    Damian – Splatting the clay is fun in itself. I didn’t expect your to need to make a cube. ☺
    Sophie H. – Knowing how to do an activity helps the task move along.
    Jun – Watching an expert makes a task easier to understand. ☺
    Mya – I like the steps you describe. Of course that’s a hamburger shape I wouldn’t try to eat.
    Jesse – Now rolling pins I understand from cooking. ☺
    Ava – Yes, fit is a very important step in mask making. Once made, it’s too late to change a clay mask.
    Julia – Rolling both side must help to keep the clay pliable.
    Rijui – I’ve always found rolling clay to be good exercise for the arms.
    Tormod – Ah, after reading Rijui’s comment I was wondering if you would get tired. ☺
    Sophie G. – Yes, making sure your clay isn’t too thin is very important.
    Ava – I was wondering how the mask would be shaped. Having a mould helps in clay work.
    Elijah – Skewers and popsicle sticks are great tools in clay work. I’ve also used them.
    Natasha – I must say, once shaped, I enjoyed adding patterns, although I never made a clay mask.
    Zahra – The photos on the blog shows me how much care people were taking.
    Kaylee – Considering how incredible the masks already look, I’m anxious to see how your painting goes. ☺

    The painting and firing will not only make your masks look fantastic, they’ll be strong.

    I didn’t know you had been studying rocks and minerals. That’s another of my hobbies. I have a collection of some rocks and minerals, including crystals and fossils. When one class in the U.K. was working on volcanoes, I set up some blog posts for them and even was able to send some small samples of volcanic rocks from New Zealand, Fiji and Hawaii.

    Here are links to two of the posts I made for them if you are able and want to see…

    Now to your questions…

    Have you ever found raw clay at the beach, or in your backyard, and made anything with it?
    My old family home was on a large clay field. We only needed to dig down about 10cm (1’) to find clay. About a kilometre (five eighths of a mile) from my house was an old clay pit. The reddish clay was used to make bricks. As a child, I can remember sometimes using the clay in our yard to make things but the clay wasn’t high enough quality for mask making and I didn’t have a kiln to fire it.
    My current house also has clay soils under it. It seems there are many areas along my states coast with clay soils.

    Do you know other countries that EXPORT clay?

    I think India is a big exporter of china clay. I also know the Cornwall area of England has had china clay mining to supply their ceramic industry. Have you heard of the Royal Doulton company in England?

    Is there anything about Part II of Ancient Peruvian Mask Making that you are still wondering about? Maybe we can help you!

    Wondering? No. I have enjoyed reading your post and looking at the photos. ☺

    Teacher, NSW, Australia

    • Laurie Renton

      Hi Mr. Mannell!

      Thank you SO much for your lovely comments to us! It always makes us feel SO good when you take the time to address each and every one of us. How long does it take you, when you write such magnificent comments like that? We think it must take you HOURS!

      Too bad you couldn’t have put the clay treasures you made into a FIRE … it would have worked kind of the same as a kiln! That’s how they did it in the OLD days … and … some artists STILL do it that way today!

      We loved LOVED the links you sent to the blog posts you wrote for the UK class! We studied Rocks and Minerals in the Fall … it was such a FUN science inquiry! All the cool rocks that you photographed and told us about were AMAZING to see! We are VERY intrigued by the rocks and minerals that are formed inside a volcano. It is SO surprising that obsidian looks so shiny like glass – many of the students, the MAJORITY actually, think obsidian is one of their FAVOURITES!

      Keep checking back … tomorrow we Skype with Geneva … to find out how the rest of the Q’enqo Library clean-up went!

      The Grade Three Bloggers (with, of course, a little help from their teacher Mrs. Renton) 🙂

      • Ross Mannell

        Hello Grade 3 Bloggers,

        How long does it take me? Your comment would have taken between half an hour and one hour to write. Sometimes my comments can be short or other times quite long and involve photos and videos. One of my five blogs has been set up especially for long comments. I find I can type reasonably quickly but not always well. I never seem to be able to type as fast as I might speak or think.

        Unless I’m editing video for a school or community group, I can often be found in front of the computer typing comments. Today (February 29th) has been extra busy as a deputy principal in the UK has set up a global blog where people around the world can make posts to mark the leap day. People of all ages have taken part and I’ve commented on a number of posts as well as making two myself. As I was up at midnight here, I was in one of the earliest countries to start February 29th. I found my quick post marked the first on the site.

        If you are interested in seeing this global blog and perhaps adding posts of your own, the link is below. Mr Mitchell, the deputy principal I mentioned, moderates posts and comments and allows you to choose your age group and country details. I’m wondering how many countries will be involved? The link is…

        The link will be open for you until midnight on February 29. At the time of writing this reply, midnight is about 5 hours away for me. As an example, my town is 16 hours ahead of Peruvian time. 🙂

        To the rocks and minerals… You observed the obsidian very well. It is also known as volcanic glass. As volcanoes I’ve visited are often in parks and reserves I don’t collect rocks from them although I do find them. I buy from registered shops. They have to have permits to collect samples. I like to see them where they were formed then leave them for others to discover and hopefully not take. The sample in the photo came from New Zealand.

        I have checked on the “notify me” boxes on your page so I get email alerts when you have posted something new. It can sometimes take a couple days to return to your blog but I will turn up at times.

        Keep blogging. You are achieving so much for others.

        Teacher, NSW, Australia

        • Laurie Renton

          Hello, Ross! Thank you for your magnificent comment … AGAIN! Wow – half an hour to an hour is quite a LOT of time to take on a comment for a class! It usually takes us an hour or a little bit more to write a POST! We really appreciate the time you take to write these beautiful words back to us, and LOVE that you take ALL of that TIME into putting a comment into our blog … it makes us feel awesome! It warms our hearts that you are subscribing to our blog … so far we have NINE subscribers! Thank you for sharing that cool link for February 29th! Besides blogging, what did YOU do to celebrate this special day? Do you follow Angela Maiers? This week we will be writing a GUEST post for HER blog! Sharing all our work with Mosqoy and the library in Peru makes us feel pretty good! Talk to you soon! The Grade Three Bloggers 🙂

          • Ross Mannell

            Hello Grade Three Bloggers,

            Many of my comments are much shorter but every now and then I come across a post which manages to catch extra interest for me. It can be in history, science, social studies, mathematics, literature, music or anything else. As I’ve always thought learning is a lifelong journey not ending when we leave school, I’ve kept an interest in very many things and feel just as comfortable commenting on the posts from a five year old as I do on a post from an eighteen year old. Of course, commenting on the post of an intelligent eighteen year old can take much longer but they are still learners and can appreciate someone taking time to comment.

            How did I celebrate February 29th?
            I started the day around 6:00 a.m. by accessing my Twitter account. This is one of the ways I find out which blogs I need to visit. I check emails and Facebook to see if I need to message friends or one of the blogs I visit has had an update. Once these morning routines are done and my internet browser has tabs for blogs I’ll be visiting as I have time, I start commenting.
            My first visit was to the special February 29th blog where I left comments on a number of posts before visiting other blogs.
            Being a Wednesday, I take my mother to lunch before helping her with grocery shopping. In the later afternoon I worked on a video I had made for a local theatre group before doing some more commenting.
            It’s not an exciting day when you see it written down but my celebration comes when I make contact with a blog somewhere in the world and, for a small amount of time, become a part of their class. For a teacher retired from full time teaching, it makes me feel involved with learning adventures. February 29th added the extra interest of date specific posts. 🙂

            Do I follow Angela Maiers?
            Yes, I do follow her. 🙂 Being able to write a guest post is wonderful. It shows you how much interest your posts have been for people.

            Keep blogging! 🙂

            Teacher, NSW, Australia

  7. Jada

    This is a very nice thing you are doing for kids good job!

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