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Occasionally people need to find an opportunity to loosen up and unwind. The ancient Greeks understood this, and that is why they regularly staged elaborate plays. People could gather together and revel in the spectacle. Often the crowds would swell to such enormous sizes that the audience had a difficult time clearly seeing the actors. Therefore, the actors began to wear elaborate masks that heavily emphasized the emotions that they wished to portray. Once the mask was placed upon the performer, the performer ceased to be him or herself and transformed into someone else entirely. Masks provide their wearer with a sense of anonymity. There is a freedom that comes with wearing a mask. People act in ways that they might not act otherwise.

The key is in finding the right place to don a mask. Every year there is a series of Carnival celebrations in New Orleans, Louisiana known as Mardi Gras that precede the Christian season of Lent. This year, it will last from January 1st until February 10th. There are gigantic floats, skillfully designed doubloons, highly trained flambeau carriers, delicious king cakes with toy baby’s inside, and a vast assortment of masks. The concept behind wearing masks at Mardi Gras is that by wearing a mask, the wearer is celebrating a last hoorah prior to having to begin fasting for Lent.

Making a Mardi Gras mask is fairly simple. Take a piece of colored construction paper. The traditional colors of Mardi Gras are gold, green, and purple. Gold symbolizes power, green symbolizes faith, and purple symbolizes justice. Cut out a large figure 8 that is roughly the width of your head. Be creative with the figure 8. You can cut round edges, sharp edges, or you can cut designs into it. Make two eyeholes. Find a twelve-inch long dowel. Decorate the mask with fabric, faux jewelry, foil, glitter, paint, ribbons, and sequins. Feel free to go wild. Paint the dowel an attractive color. Glue the dowel to one side of the mask and you will have a hand made Mardi Gras mask. Go out and enjoy yourself.

Find out more about Mardi Gras Masks and other industry specific topics.

You can help your kids celebrate Mardi Gras by making up easy Mardi Gras Masks. For this you’ll need:

o Construction paper in several colors

o Scissors

o Glitter

o Glue sticks

o Markers or crayons

o Some loose craft feathers

o Straws

o Tape

These will be those half masks that you hold up to your face. First have the kids each pick out a piece of construction paper in the color that they like. Then, help them draw the outline of the half mask that they want and help them cut it out. Don’t forget to put eye holes in the right spots.

Once the kids have the construction paper masks cut out they can start decorating them. They can put drops of glue around the outside of their masks and line them with the fluffy colored feathers. The kids can also spread a thin layer of glue on their masks and sprinkle glitter on them. Let the glue dry and shake off the excess glitter for a sparkly feather mask.

You can create an eyeliner effect on the masks by carefully outlining the eyeholes with the marker. You can also draw in whiskers, freckles or any other design that you like on the masks.

To attach your half masks to their holders simply tape one end of a straw to one side of the half mask. If you want you can decorate the straw too by covering it in a thin layer of glue and rolling it in the glitter before you tape it to the mask.

You can also get more involved in the making of your Mardi Gras masks by getting some plastic beads and sewing them to the masks in elaborate designs. Try stringing up a row of beads and tacking them to the outside rims of the masks like a garland.

Mrs. Party… Gail Leino is the internet’s leading authority on selecting the best possible party supplies, using proper etiquette, and living a healthy life while also teaching organizational skills and fun facts. The Party Supplies Hut has lots of party ideas with hundreds of free coloring sheets, printable games, and free birthday party activities. Over 100 adorable Party Themes to fit your birthday celebration, holiday event, or “just because” parties is at the Party Theme Shop. Party themes include cartoon characters, sports, movie, TV shows, luau, western, holidays, and unique crazy fun theme ideas.

You can make fun and easy Mardi Gras beads for your kids Mardi Gras Celebration with Salt dough. You can make these beads for just about any kid’s celebration too.

You’ll Need:

o 2 cups of plain flour

o 1 cup of salt

o 1 cup of water

o oven

o acrylic paint

o knife

o board

o rolling pin

o paintbrushes

o baking tray

o aluminum foil or wax paper

To start with you’ll need to mix up your salt dough. Pour the two cups of flour into a bowl with one cup of salt and one cup of water. Mix with your hands until the dough is entirely moistened and sticks together. It should be like pizza dough easy to mold without it sticking to your hands. You’ll see the little grains of salt in the dough.

Once the dough is made you can begin making the beads. Take the aluminum foil or wax paper and roll a sheet into a small tube shape so that it looks like a straw. Next roll out a sheet of the dough with the rolling pin until it’s fairly thin. Gently roll a piece of this sheet around the foil tube. Cut with the knife to separate the dough wrapped around the tube from the rest of the dough sheet. Press the cut edge so that it’s sticking to the tube. Next use your knife to cut the dough wrapped around the aluminum tube into small sections about the size of the width of Mardi Gras beads.

When the dough is cooked it should harden enough that you’ll be able to pull each of the sections off the aluminum tube and end up with your Mardi Gras beads with a nice hole through them for stringing. Place the dough wrapped tube into the oven at 212 degrees Fahrenheit for about half an hour. When it’s done and cooled gently pull off the bead sections.

You can now paint them with your acrylic paint in bright colors and string it together.

Mrs. Party… Gail Leino is the internet’s leading authority on selecting the best possible party supplies, using proper etiquette, and living a healthy life while also teaching organizational skills and fun facts. The Party Supplies Hut has lots of party ideas with hundreds of free coloring sheets, printable games, and free birthday party activities. Over 100 adorable Party Themes to fit your birthday celebration, holiday event, or “just because” parties is at the Party Theme Shop. Party themes include cartoon characters, sports, movie, TV shows, luau, western, holidays, and unique crazy fun theme ideas.

When you think of Mardi Gras, you automatically imagine fun, revelry, parties, beads, costumes, and masks. Of all the images, the carnival mask predominates. In fact, Venetian masks are often used to symbolize the festival.

The history of their use at Carnival celebrations is centuries old as Mardi Gras masks were originally worn to conceal a person’s identity and social class during costume parties. Accented with feathers, sequins and ribbons, these decorative masks come in an array of bright, regal colors including green, purple and gold.

During Mardi Gras, every member of your family, including your pets, should have an authentic, uniquely crafted mask.

Making a Mardi Gras mask is simple. The process can be used as a fun, family activity to enjoy with the kids, and it only takes a few inexpensive, items to make one: cardboard, craft foam, large craft stick, faux jewels, feathers, foil wrapping paper or paint, glitter, glue, glue gun, protective cloth or paper, ribbon, scissors, sequins, hole-punch, and scissors or utility knife.

1. Before you begin, place the protective cloth or paper on your table or work station.
2. Allow the glue gun to heat for at least 10 minutes before using it.
3. Choose a design for your mask. You may refer to either a picture or you can use a mask template. Many free templates are available online.
4. Trace or draw the shape of the mask on tracing paper. Transfer the drawing or template onto either the cardboard or lightweight craft foam.
5. To keep the template secure, use the heated glue gun to place a small drop of glue at the top of the backside of the mask. Allow the template to adhere to the cardboard or craft foam.
6. Cut the mask with a pair of scissors or utility knife.
7. Put a drop of glue on the craft stick.
8. Too add color, cover your mask with foil wrapping paper or paint it.
9. Decorate the stick with glitter, ribbon or sequins.
10. Be creative- add feathers, sequins, jewels, and ribbon to decorate the rim of the mask.
11. Allow the decorations to completely dry before wearing your mask.

Learn more about Mardi Gras masks and other industry specific topics by visiting the company website.

MAKE A MASK

Children will love this Mardi Gras project – who does not love masquerading around with a mask, pretending that they are somebody else? Of course, first, they have to make the mask. There are many different ways to go about making a mask – what you choose depends completely on what you and your students or children want to make. To make a mask, you will need cardboard to keep it from bending (a cereal box will work). You can either create a template, or have your students come up with their own mask designs. Draw this onto the cardboard and cut it out (cardboard is difficult to cut through – make sure that you help any children that need it).

Now, you can take crepe paper or tissue paper (in green, purple, and yellow, of course) or construction paper. You can cut it up and glue it to your mask (or Modge Podge it to it) in what ever design you want. You can even make your mask look like a butterfly. Add glitter and feathers and sequins. Make sure that you have 2 holes cut out for the eyes (help with this). Now you just need to tape to the side of the mask a stick (made from a stick, sturdy straws, a wooden spoon, or whatever) so that your students can hold it up. Voila.

Mardi Gras projects and activities – MAKE A KINGS CROWN

Treat your students like royalty, and let them create their own kings crowns. You just need some construction paper, scissors, and tape or a stapler. Have your kids cut a piece of paper lengthwise with jagged pointed edges. Now they can decorate it (with crayons, glitter, sequins, feathers, etc.). Then simply curve the paper around, decorations on the outside, and staple it together. For a more sturdy crown, glue the construction paper to a long and thing piece of cardboard paper right at the base.

Mardi Gras projects and activities – MAKE MARDI GRAS BEADS

Alright, we have saved the best of the Mardi Gras projects and activities for last. Who doesn’t love Mardi Gras beads? First of all, you are going to need to make “clay beads.” Here is an easy recipe.

· 2 cups flour

· 1 cup salt

· 2 Tbsp vegetable oil

· ¾-1 cup water

Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Mix the 2 cups of flour with the salt and then add the oil and slowly add the water. Stir this concoction until you have a good clay consistency. Now make the clay into the desired shapes that you want. Do not forget to poke a big hole through your clay beads so that you will be able to string them later – you can use a straw or a toothpick). Cook the beads for about one hour (the time varies depending on how thick your beads are. Do not make them too thick, because then they will crack while baking).

Once your beads have cooled down, paint your beads green, purple, and gold (or yellow). Once they dry, string them up onto some yarn or string. Now was not that an awesomely fun Mardi Gras project?

Anne Clarke writes numerous articles for websites on gardening, parenting, fashion, and home decor. Her background includes teaching and gardening. For more of her articles on arts and crafts, please visit Homeroom Teacher.