Ron Graham
Puppets and other papier mache creations.
Fine art with paper as medium or support.

Fact Sheet 1
Insights into paper pulp

Paper pulp’s advantages for puppetry

Papier mache, the main ingredient of which is paper pulp, is an excellent material for making puppets. The advantages of papier mache for puppetry are numerous...

Advantages of recycling fibres

By using good quality waste paper as your main raw material, you gain in several ways...

The seven components of papier mache

Recipies and methods for papier mache are legion, however there are seven key ingredients that will make excellent papier mache for modelling and casting. No cooking is required. The seven ingredients are...

Method and mechanics of pulp making

Tearing. Tear (or cut) selected waste into small pieces. For larger quantities use a machine on dry paper. (See article A Paper Tearing Machine). For small quantities tear by hand after soaking. Note that office shredders overly shorten fibres, and make paper strings that may tangle in the beater.

Beating. When the torn paper is well soaked, beat it in the warm water to separate the fibres and allow them to swell with water. For large quantities furnish an industrial quality electric drill with a home made beater blade, and use a strong plastic bucket for a container. (See article A Pulp Beater). For small quantities use a food processer. Use a proportion of paper to water such that movement of the mass is neither violent nor sluggish. If you will store the pulp, add a few drops of oil of wintergreen. Pulp is well beaten when no paper particles are visible. Allow the pulp to stand awhile for complete hydration.

Straining, storing. The pulp is now ready for use in a vat. For papier mache, remove excess water as follows. Line a sink or bowl with a piece of shade cloth, and gently tip the pulp into it. Gather the cloth around the pulp and squeeze until the pulp is crumbly but still glistening. If you squeeze some in your hand it should drip water. Now compress the pulp into a box frame and push it out as blocks roughly 100 x 100 x 30mm. Stack unused blocks in separate columns so they air dry. Rehydrate at any time by placing a block in a large stainless steel bowl, boiling a kettle, pouring the water to cover the block, and leaving it to soak for ten minutes. Pour off any water remaining and use the block.

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