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Copyright 2000
by Phillip Martin
All rights reserved.
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Pupil Owned Written Enacted Recognized PLAYS

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Costumes

For the African folk tales, students wore black but were to design an authentic type of African headgear with paper mach�. It was incredibly fun, easy, and successful. Library resources were researched for the appropriate patterns, shapes, and colors.

Once the pattern was envisioned, we experimented with paper mach� to turn it in to a reality.

African Headgear

Supplies:

wallpaper paste -- I used Henkel brand Optalin Tapeten Kleister from Germany.

countless strips of heavy paper about 2 cm wide

several staplers

lots of masking tape

wire

scissors

lots of recycled paper scraps torn into pieces about two inches square

beads, beans, macaroni, brass, feathers

acrylic paints

glue

hot glue gun and lots of wax

Acrylic spray

Begin by loosely wrapping one strip of heavy paper around the forehead like a cap. Staple and trim the paper. Then, take strips across the top of the head. Continue to staple and trim until a cap is made the shape of the top of the skull. Using newspaper, heavy paper, wire, and lots of masking tape, fashion the shape for the decoration of the hat.

It could be something as simple as adding a lip where feathers could later be attached. Or, it could be as complex as converting the cap into a rooster's comb. Use cut out heavy paper to get the needed shape and apply it with staples and masking tape. If you need paper to fashion to a specific shape (like a roosters bill coming down the front of the head) place several strands of wire along the paper and wrap it with masking tape. The paper will then bend easily into shape.

Be sure to cover all the staples along the inside rim of the headgear with masking tape.

Anything can be created with masking tape, paper, and staplers. When it is finished, it is time to cover it with paper mach�. Get a container that can be sealed. Sprinkle just a little of the wall paper paste into one liter of water. JUST A LITTLE! It takes a while (overnight is best) for the powder to form a slimy "snot" solution. A little goes a long way.

Wet the paper scraps on both sides with the slime. Cover the headgear completely on the outside and on the inside rim. Try to make sure it is smoothly applied. Any place that is uneven can be covered the following day after it dries.

When the headgear dries, check to see if it still fits the student. It possibly could be too small after the application of the paper mach�. If so, cut a small slit in either the front or the back or the headgear. Open it up to form a triangle and slip a wedge of heavy paper into place. Staple it several times into place and cover with masking tape and paper mach�. Refit the following day. If it still needs to be larger, repeat the same process on the other side of the headgear.

When the paper mach� work is complete, paint the headgear with acrylic paint. Decorative accessories like beans and macaroni may be glued on but hot wax works especially well. Of course, it also burns fingers especially well. I let students glue beans on by themselves but not the brass. Brass heats up very quickly with the hot wax.

The final touch is to spray the hat with an acrylic spray. It adds a gloss and protective coating.