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The flour and water get stirred together to make cheap, thin glue. The newspaper strips are dunked in this glue and draped over some form, creating a skin. When this skin dries, it maintains its shape. Shazam! No chisels, no kiln, and no fumes.
Unfortunately, the lifespan of paper mache is short. The paper skin is flammable, susceptible to moisture damage and attractive to insects. You should not let this discourage you. I've found that the temporary nature of paper mache projects encourages fun and experimentation, two pillars of studio art.
You should try to draw it first.
Here it is:
For other people, this is when they should expand upon their project idea, to get a clearer idea of how their project is going to look when it is completed. One way to do this is to draw it. Another way is to print up a few images from the internet. I suspect that some people reading this might protest having to draw their project first, but I still encourage it. By attempting to draw it, you will face and solve a bunch of little design challenges before you get your hands dirty.
For example, if you have the idea to make a paper mache alligator, and you don't draw it out first, you will probably start building a long body shape, and attach legs after that is finished. For example, the legs might end up poking out perpendicular to the body, because the design will be made up as you go.
The downside is that balloons tend to deflate in one or two days, so any projects built with them need to be completed and dried in that time. Quick-drying techniques can also backfire with balloons, because they can expand, busting through the new paper skin. I've also used a couple cousins of the balloon to build an armature: Inflated plastic packing pillows and bubblewrap.
Other heavy paper is well-suited for building an armature, such as cardboard tubes from wrapping paper rolls and Fed-Ex shipping tubes.
You will probably find that gloves will be more trouble than they are worth, because your fingers have to dance through the holes as you work.
Past the size of a laundry basket, a chicken wire structure is too flimsy to support the weight of wet newspaper. Therefore any large sculptures will need a skeleton underneath. I recommend using 1x2 lumber and wood screws.
1. the skeleton for your sculpture will need to be very close to the surface of the skin.
People, plants and animals look more natural if they aren't made up of 90 degree angles. It isn't as easy to screw them together at odd angles, but they will look a lot better in the final result.
Two-liter soda bottles, fed-ex shipping tubes, the plastic from sour cream tubs and crumpled aluminum foil are also good choices for building cheap armatures.
Please continue reading page 2 of Easy, Illustrated Instructions on How to papermache.
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October 29, 2007