How to make a Medusa head for an art project

Written by sylvia branch | 13/05/2017
How to make a Medusa head for an art project
The stories of Medusa are varied, but all agree she had snakes for hair. (Hemera Technologies/ Images)

Medusa began as a beautiful sea nymph from Greek mythology. In the story, the goddess Athena transformed Medusa into a frightening creature with serpents for hair who could turn anyone who looked at her into stone. Since Medusa is a mythological creature, sculptures of her vary. Some depictions show her with a beautiful face, others portray a hideous monster or a severed head. Either version includes a mass of snakes on her head replacing her hair.

Cut into the polystyrene/styrofoam head form to alter the eye sockets, mouth and cheekbones as desired. Use sandpaper to smooth out cut sections. Small alterations can be made by firmly pressing the polystyrene/styrofoam.

Place a roll of toilet paper into a pot of hot water. Squeeze the excess water out. Combine small pieces of the wet paper with school glue. Apply to the face. This process creates a fine papier mache that can be manipulated into a smooth china doll-like finish. Dry completely.

Roll balls of polymer clay into snakes. Vary the length and width of the snakes. Bend into coils or add loops by wrapping around fingers. Lay all the finished snakes on a baking tray and bake according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Paint the head and cooled clay snakes with acrylics or spray paint. Include as much or as little detail as desired, for example, the entire Medusa sculpture could be spray painted a solid green, or the face and each individual snake could be carefully painted.

Attach the snakes to the top of the foam head with adhesive such as super glue or tacky glue.

Spray a clear coat of shellac over the entire project. Choose from a glossy, high-shine shellac or a matt finish. Allow to dry completely between coats.

Hammer a long nail into the centre of a block of wood. Cover the base of the Medusa head with glue and then press onto the nail to secure the foam head to the base. A solid base will help balance out the design since the clay snakes tend to create a top-heavy piece of art.

Things you need

  • Polystyrene/Styrofoam head
  • Hobby knife
  • Sandpaper
  • Toilet paper
  • Water
  • Polymer clay
  • Baking tray
  • Oven
  • School glue
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brush
  • Spray paint
  • Shellac
  • Glue
  • Wood block, 30 cm (12 inches) square
  • Nail

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