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The Background, Making and Use of Masks

By Jennifer Foreman



The Background, Making and Use of Masks

By Jennifer Foreman

A new way of looking at the art of masks and mask-making, combining ethnography, design and practical advice.

Trade Information: LGENPOD
Available as: Paperback (eBook edition available soon)

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Forthcoming Title

Print Paperback

ISBN: 9780718895297

Specifications: 246x189mm (9.69x7.44in), 156pp

Illustrations: b&w and colour

Expected: November 2020

Available to pre-order

Jenny Foreman's book for teachers and practitioners of drama, art, design and technology grew out of a research bursary from the UK's National Society for Education in Art and Design. They received her report with great enthusiasm as "one of the very best projects ... likely to make a valuable and useful contribution" to both specific and cross-discipline school and college courses as well as to adult performing groups.

The first part explains the anthropology, nature, use and meaning of masks around the world, from prehistory to modern times. Richly illustrated with colour and black-and-white photographs, this section introduces the ethical implications of free use of masks which have ethnographical connections – an important aspect completely neglected elsewhere.

The second part comprises eight theme workshops, including theory, background and instructions for mask-making, supplemented by photographs of assembly and use by groups of people from all age-ranges. Materials are inexpensive and easy to acquire, while line drawings aid step-by-step construction. A bibliography and reference section helps readers go on to even greater understanding and achievements.

Maskwork will be of particular value to schools and theatre groups, and to anyone interested in this ancient craft.

With photographs by Richard Penton.

Acknowledgements of Photographs

What are Masks?
Masks as Resources
Planning a Project

Project 1: First Steps
Exploring the medium, tools and skills before making a mask. An 'ice-breaker' or forerunner to paper maskmaking for all ages.

Project 2: Shape-Masks
Improvising with paper construction to create masks ranging from the simple to the spectacular.

Project 3: Changing Faces
Making a plate mask as a lively 'way in' to character work and physical theatre techniques.

Project 4: Symmetry & Collage
Making symmetrical half-masks and full-face collage masks (built up from magazine images) with activities combining drama and the other arts.

Project 5: Theatre, Mask & Myth
Devising drama productions based on myths and involving the construction of full-face (helmet-masks) and head-masks (crest-headdress masks) using traditional models.

Project 6: Character & Commedia
Exploring paper gum-strip techniques to create masks of professional standard on any theme or character (human, animal or fantasy). Commedia dell'arte is given as an example.

Project 7: Gods, Dragons & Demons
A resource chapter of mask-making ideas and activities inspired by mythological archetypes, suitable for festivals, parades and plays.

Project 8: Masquerade
Suggestions for mask-making techniques involving papier-mâché, clay, plaster of Paris and fibreglass.


Jennifer Foreman is trained in both drama and education. She has worked as an actor, movement instructor, mask-maker and teacher. She is currently Head of Faculty for Creative and Performing Arts at a girls' comprehensive school. She won the NSEAD and BEROL Curriculum Development Award for 1989–90 for work on masks and mask-making in arts education.

[Maskwork promotes] an awareness of issues that are fundamental to teaching in the creative and expressive domains. It reminds us of the importance of critical appreciation, self expression and a moving away from the all too familiar process-based approach to teaching art and design. Mary Greenacre, in JADE, Vol 20.2