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How to make comedy and tragedy masks

Comedy and tragedy masks were first used in ancient Greek theatre. In the present day, they signify theatre, TV and film and the symbol of the two masks are used in a variety of ways. In this article, have a look at how you can recreate the masks using arts and crafts materials.

Making masks

The easiest way of making comedy and tragedy Greek masks is with cardboard or paper plates. The shape of the masks can be cut out with holes for the eyes and either a happy mouth or sad mouth shaped with scissors or a craft knife. Facial features The masks were used to exaggerate Greek actors' facial features so that they could be seen more easily by the audience. To exaggerate the features on a cardboard mask, use scrunched up paper or layered card to add in eyebrows, eye sockets and mouth lines. Glue and paint over to make the mask look like one piece. Using papier mache Papier mache is also great for mask making. Start with a blown up balloon and just cover half of it to make the roundedness of a mask. Add layers of newspaper and paste until the mask is at a thickness where it will not be too fragile. Continue to use papier mache strips to build up the features. This process can take a couple of weeks while all the layers dry out. When completely dry, remove the balloon and carefully cut out the eye and mouth holes. Paint and varnish to make it last.

Decoration

Typically, the masks were white with perhaps some extra colouring, cream or gold, around the features to make them stand out. For your own masks, you can choose whatever colours that you would like. If they are to be used in a Greek drama, the more they stand out, the better extras can be added like hair, ears and jewellery. Using clay For masks that will make great ornaments or to hang on the wall, clay is a good medium to use. Self-hardening clay will negate the use of a kiln. You can shape the mask, cutting out the eyes and mouth, and build up the features with extra clay. When it is dry, finish by painting and varnishing if you wish.

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