Finally we can show you the process of Making our Mexican Tona Face Masks. What an adventure! Like all experienced artists, a lot of the creative process is trial and error, and often things just don’t work.
We thoroughly enjoyed the clay making process, despite the fact that we had no idea what we were doing. The box of clay came with no instructions, so we tried a number of different ways to mix, blend and smooth the clay with warm hands and a bit of water. Not too much water! Some people loved the process, others were not so keen. There was mess, absolute mess!
For most people, it came together though and we had some lovely animal and fantasy creature masks ready to dry out over the weekend.
Unfortunately, we must have done something wrong as when we came into the classroom the following week we found that our masks had cracked!
We were very disappointed as you could imagine. We tried gluing them, painting them in lacquer and putting on more clay. It wasn’t going to help! Miss B went and saw the staff at the Riot! Art Supplies store who suggested plaster bandages. She bought 6 rolls and we set to work literally bandaging up our masks!
This seemed to hold in all the clay. The final stage was to paint them, and then our fabulous masks were finally finished!
Masks have been used in many cultures all over the world. People have been using masks in celebrations, religious rituals, performances and for hunting for centuries. Miss B loves finding masks in art galleries and museums around the world, if you get the chance check out the cool ones in the Australian Museum in Canberra.
One of the oldest masks in the world is this stone mask from the pre-ceramic neolithic period, dating back to 7000 BC. It doesn’t look very fancy, not compared to the Mexican tiger mask next to it.
In Mexico, masks have been used for approximately 3000 years. According to the Pre-Colombian legend of Tona, each man and woman shares a common destiny with an animal counterpart.
All people shared a destiny with this animal, called a Tona, which matched their personality traits in some way. If someone is without food, the animal will go hungry; if the animal suffers injury, the human being will become ill; if the animal is killed, the human being will also die.
Tona (also Tono) is the Spanish term referring to these animal guardians or soul companions. Some popular animals that were chosen as a person’s tona were jaguars, ocelots, birds, bats, snakes and alligators.
After the Spanish people conquered the Mexican area other animals became used as mask inspiration, such as bulls, sheep, horses, deer and cats.
There are many celebrations and rituals in Mexico where Tona masks are worn.
Common materials that were used to make Mexican animal masks were wood, clay, metal, leather and wax. These could be decorated with feathers, goat hair, ribbon, even animal teeth.
Tona masks usually have a mixture of human characteristics and animal features.
The mouse mask above, has pointed, yellow ears with elliptical almond-shaped eyes, much more similar to that of a human that tiny beady mouse eyes.
That bright yellow mask almost looks comical, until you notice the lethally sharp horns that could gouge you like a hunting spear. I wonder what sort of ritual that one was used for?
5/6J are going to be making their own ‘Tona’ animal masks this term! We’ll need to start thinking about which animal we would like to represent us and our personalities…
A cheetah if you run fast? A dog if you are friendly? An owl if you like staying up late? A flamingo if you are good at dancing? There are thousands of possibilities.
After the masks are made we will definitely upload them to our blog for everyone to see. Can’t wait for our clay to arrive so we can get started!
For our last artwork in Term One, we created these ghost gum artworks using chalk pastels. Miss B (who loves using these for her artworks) showed us the different ways to smudge and blend the chalk pastels.
We have been working so hard on these sculptures! As part of our Science unit of work on Packaging, we had to design and make a package for these kinetic sculptures to sell at Market Day. Here is the video we watched to learn how to make them:
And here are some photographs of the finished products ready for Market Day! The packaging looks great everyone, and meets the design brief!