Monday, October 24, 2011

Attempting Paper Mache

I haven't made anything with paper-mache (Papier-mâché ) in many many years but when I came across this fabulous life-sized paper mache Jack Skellington (and my family is all about Jack), the creative juices started flowing. A few days later, the "Pickles" started their fall break and not far into their first day of their break, The Girl became "bored". It was a perfect time to introduce her to paper-mache.

The first time I remember making something out of paper-mache, I was in elementary school. We covered a balloon with strips of newspaper and a flour and water paste. A couple years later, while I was participating in a summer theater program at the public library, we made costumes with paper-mache heads using the same process and attached long, flowing fabrics for the costumes. We would attempt something similar but since I had no balloons, I decided we'd create our base using crumpled newspaper secured with tape.

I emptied our newspaper recycling bin and The Girl and I started tearing numerous strips of paper. In the middle of our tearing, the girl next door came by looking for a playmate. Having never done paper-mache herself, she joined in. It's pretty fun to sit around on a kitchen floor ripping up newspapers!

I showed the girls how to create their base sculpture. I was going to make a simple pumpkin. The Girl (taking after her mother) wanted to jump right in to something more elaborate - a werewolf head. While they struggled with the crumpled newspaper and tape making their forms, I mixed up a simple paste of flour and water. Not too thick and not too thin - more like pancake batter.

We put on some aprons and went outside with our base forms, our "paste" and our huge tub full of newspaper strips. I demonstrated how to coat the newspaper strips with paste and wrap the forms. The mess began. We all wound up with flour paste caked on our hands. Newspaper strips stuck wherever the paste was. The Girl would shake her hands trying to get the strips off and in the process had flour paste flinging from her fingers into my hair and on her clothes.

We did manage to get some newspaper and paste on our sculptures. Once we finally took a break to let the pieces dry before adding another layer, we stood up to wash our hands under the outdoor water spigot and saw there was more paste all over the patio than anywhere else. Thankfully, it could be easily removed with the water hose.

After we got a good coating of newspaper and paste on the sculptures, we left them out in the (still very hot) sun to dry.

The Girl's werewolf looked more like a wolf than I had originally thought it would. She must have an eye for this sort of thing (grin). The pumpkins still looked like small cartoon bombs, but hopefully they'll take shape after another coating of paper and paste.

See Part 2
See Part 3

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