How to make a moai statue

Written by michael e carpenter
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How to make a moai statue
The majority of moai are found on the southeastern coast of the island. (Goodshoot/Goodshoot/Getty Images)

The moai are the statues found all over Easter Island and are commonly called Easter Island heads. The native people carved these statues between 1400 and 1600 from the rocks found on the island. Almost 900 moai are found on the island in various locations and stages of completion. The exact meaning of the statues is unknown but scientists believe the statues represent tribal chiefs, according to the PBS website. Creating a moai statue is easy to do and can either be made out of clay or plaster.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Milk Carton
  • Scissors
  • Bucket
  • Plaster of Paris
  • Water
  • Vermiculite
  • Pencil
  • Butter knife
  • Clay or sand dough
  • Paint
  • Sealant

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Instructions

    Plaster Moai

  1. 1

    Cut the top off a paper milk carton with a pair of scissors. The carton should be clean and contain no milk.

  2. 2

    Mix 3 cups of plaster of Paris, 3 cups of vermiculite and 2 1/2 cups of water in a plastic bucket. The plaster of Paris can be purchased at hobby stores. The vermiculite, which is a soil for colour in the statue, is found at home stores.

  3. 3

    Pour the mixture into the milk carton and allow it to dry for at least one hour until the plaster becomes semi-hard.

  4. 4

    Remove the milk carton by cutting it away from the plaster with the scissors and a butter knife.

  5. 5

    Draw an outline of the moai onto the plaster with a pencil. The statue features are thin, long heads with deep brows. The noses are also very long and display an expressionless mouth. Some of the moai statues also have long ears on the head. The bottom of the statues represent the shoulders or body of the moai.

  6. 6

    Carve the plaster with the butter knife to create the moai statue. Start with large sections such as the outline of the statue before moving into more detailed areas. The butter knife should be able to remove the plaster easily as the plaster has not totally set up.

  7. 7

    Allow the plaster to dry completely over the next three or four days. Use an acrylic sealant to keep moisture out of the plaster to protect it.

    Clay Moai

  1. 1

    Select the material for the moai statue; use either clay or sand dough. Both materials will be workable to create the statue and will dry out in the desired shape. Sand dough will crack more easily but will provide a more realistic rock like appearance.

  2. 2

    Add a black or grey poster or acrylic paint to the clay or sand dough and work it into the material. This will give the material the correct colouration. In sand dough, the paint will only colour the dough and not the sand, giving it a textured appearance.

  3. 3

    Shape the clay or dough into the shape of a moai using your fingers. The head is large and the base of the material should make up the shoulders or body of the status.

  4. 4

    Mold the facial features to the statue including the deep set eyebrows, long nose and simple mouth.

  5. 5

    Allow the statue to dry. Rotate the statue every few hours to help it dry evenly. Sand dough will crack if dried unevenly. Add deep grooves to the underside of the statue to reduce cracking.

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