Masapán sculpting is a special craft technique associated with the town of Calderón in Ecuador. It is an artform from which beautiful and detailed figurines are created from a bread dough mixture (Masapan means bread-dough). It is said that the exact mixture varies from artisan to artisan, and that the recipe is a family secret, passed down through the generations. Masapán crafts are unique to Ecuador.
Sculpting masapán figurines is a fun activity for Elementary age children. They appreciate the simplicity of the ingredients used to make their items, and despite protests of yucky hands, they enjoy the tactile stimulation of molding and mixing the bread and glue.
Materials needed per child: 3 slices of white bread, lots of glue (2 - 3 tablespoons), poster board paint and paint brushes.
Peel the crust off 3 slices of white bread (my students like to eat the crust!), and break into smaller pieces.
Add lots of glue to the mix (approximately 2 - 3 tablespoons full, or enough to cover the bread without soaking it completely.
Mix the bread and glue thoroughly with hands until the mix becomes doughy and pliable enough to be molded. Then roll the dough around in the palm of the hands until you have a nice round shape. (I find this helps the dough mix a little better).
At the point at which the group has a nice round ball, you may find the class is begging to wash their hands. This is a good stopping point for doing so before beginning the sculpting process!
Sculpt your desired image. You may find it helpful to have several cups of water spread along the work station that can be used to smooth the sculpted images with more ease.
Also, you may want to first show students examples of designs you have premade, as well as show actual masapán artwork for creative inspiration.
Depending on the age and skill of your students, I recommend the following:
elementary ages: a sombrero, a pitcher of tea, an american flag, an ice cream cone, an animal, a picture frame.
preschool / pre-k: a sun, a moon, stars, or some amazing object taken from their imagination.. This age group may fair better by using cookie-cutters.
Paint the masapán figurines with brightly colored tempura paint.