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Re-discover the art of crafting with paper mache

As a child I remember endless projects made using paper mache. Using nothing more than flour, water and newspaper I would sit and craft for hours on end making bowls that would be painted in bright colours. Crafting with paper mache is a hobby that is very inexpensive and uses materials readily found in the home.

 

What prompted me to write this article is the beautiful paper mache sculptures created by Jonni Good. The baby elephant above is just one of her many projects and it's hard to believe that it is made from a basic frame covered with paper mache and a few other supplies that you will find at your local Builders Warehouse.

You may recall a few months back that I sculpted a deer head using paper mache. My deer head is still mounted on the wall and not looking too bad as a first attempt back into paper mache, but having seen what can be done I'm definitely going to be re-discovering more projects using paper mache.

I have often wondered how to build the actual frame for a paper mache sculture. It's very similar to building faux cement rocks - simply making a frame to provide the basic shape and then applying newspaper and tape and then paper mache to build up layers. The frame can be made of timber, chicken wire or, more recently, balloons.

For the finer details Jonni used clay to sculpt the eyes and added textured kitchen towels for the skin detail. This is definitely one of those projects going onto my 'must do' list - when I find the time !

Re-discover paper mache
Paper mache crafts date back centuries and it is a craft that was used to replicate items normally manufactured using expensive materials- with an inexpensive alternative. Paper mache literally means chewed paper and making paper mache is as easy as mixing flour and water together to make a paste and then dipping strips of newspaper into the paste. Layers of this pasted paper are then applied to a frame and left to dry before adding more layers.

When applying layers it's important to make sure that each layer is completely and evenly pasted and that any air bubbles are excluded. Almost any kind of paper can be used but newspaper is most common. Drying can be done by placing the project outdoors in a sunny spot for a day - or placing in an airing cupboard.

Drying times will vary depending upon the thickness of the layers of paper. After painting, a layer of clear acrylic sealer or varnish is advisable to prolong the life. Marine varnish can be used on items that are to be placed outdoors, but bear in mind that some protection is required from the elements.

 

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