Hello, this was to have posted yesterday, but I had some technical difficulties, so I apologize. Since I touched on papier mâché in last week’s installment, I will go into a little more detail in this one. Most everyone is familiar with the type that your kids do in elementary (and possibly middle) school where you blow up a balloon put the papier mâché over it and then pop the balloon leavingthe paper shell. It’s a pretty simply process and the results make you proud of your budding artist. It’s a little messy, but with the right containment (a good art teacher will be on top of this) it’s fairly simple toclean up.Now, let’s visit the scene of an adult papier mâché project where the result is much larger and ends up as a staging piece/prop for After Prom.
First, you need a fairly large space in which to do this, although one that is sufficient, but intimate (like a garage) can make for interesting camaraderie amongst those suckers…I mean wonderful friends, you coerce…oops, convince to help you. Next ask permission –no scratch that – tell your husband that you are commandeering the garage for awhile, then run before he can say anything. If you want to maintain your relationship, be sure and supply drop cloths because it is messy. This is important in the event that you need said husband to build a frame or support for any of the large pieces you are constructing.
It all starts with an idea and design, then a trip to Home Depot or your hardware supplier of choice. Items to obtain there: chicken wire and, if you don’t have them, gloves of at least the garden variety (if you don’t already have some) and at most leather. If you need a frame and don’t have scrap lumber lying around as I do, you may need a few boards. A staple gun is good to have too, for attaching wire to frame. Lastly, paint (cheap and preferably flat finish), in the color(s)your brilliant idea told you to use and brushes (rollers do not work unless the form is very smooth).
Then a trip to the grocery store is in order. Items to obtain there are: large quantities of flour (I have used anywhere from 10-30 lbs), plastic or aluminum trays, and gloves of the rubber type, unless you like to have your hands in flour paste.
A trip to the recycle bin or a plea to friends to collect newspaper is the last thing on order. Collect as much as you can, just in case, slick paper (such as ads) does not work so send those back to the recycle bin.
Now you are ready to begin. Start by unrolling and cutting chicken wire in lengths close to what your design will use. If you want contours make it longer so you get the right effect and, be sure that you have it long enough to turn those spiky edges under. If you are using a frame, staple the wire onto it prior to adding papier mâché. Bend and mold the chicken wire to the effect you are trying to get. Once your form is ready, mix flour and water together until it reaches the consistency of gruel or pancake batter. A wire whisk works well; your hands work just as well. It just depends on how messy you like to get. Make several pans to share with those friends you roped into aiding and abetting your madness.
Your friends should have been tearing newspaper into largesections, bigger than the strips used by elementary school art teachers, but smaller than a news sheet. About 8” x 10” ish or so should do it. Here I will issue a word of warning about gravity, it is good to hold things to the earth, it sucks when you are trying to hang papier mâché. If you can, lay your piece down, so that you can use gravity to your advantage, otherwise start at the top and work down using the first layer as the stabilizer for the rest. Make sure that it starts over an edge or on a solid top (such as a huge snowball, but that’s for later). After the papier mâché is covering your form or forms, it has to dry. If it is cold and wet, this will take longer than if you can put it out on your driveway to dry.
Once dry, it is ready to paint and decorate. I have used many techniques, but always starting with a solid coat of base color. Paint the base color, let dry. Do the next techniques, such as dry brushing or sponging, and let dry.If you are adding things like foliage, glitter, or spray paint for effect, that should be the last step.
Once your masterpiece(s) is finished, it waits patiently until the day of set up. Then, you have to find someone with a large enough truck, trailer or U-haulto be willing to come and pick it up and deliver it to the school. This usually comes in the form of one or two grumbling (although polite) men who are deeply devoted to their wives and kids and willing to put up with the insane ideas of the former and want to please the latter. The result can be awesome in the right setting. I have to say, that as much work as it is, it’s satisfying to see the end product and to hear people comment about it. With the right lighting, paint, etc. it looks like what you were trying to achieve instead of paper over chicken wire. Here are just a few of ideas that came from my head.
Have a great weekend!