Puppets and other papier mache creations.
Fine art with paper as medium or support.
Before machines began making enormous quantities of paper out of trees, paper was an expensive commodity. It was made painstakingly by hand from cellulose fibre pulp. To obtain this pulp, various plant materials were beaten, boiled, and broken down with caustic. Recycled materials were also pulped, such as used paper and old cotton rags. There was a proverb in those days, "Beggars make rags, rags make paper, paper makes money, money makes banks, and
The history of papermaking developed alongside of printing. The ancient hand methods have never quite died out, because there is still a demand, mainly by watercolour artists, for paper made by hand in the old manner. The ancient methods also survive in the hands of many artists and crafters, who associate the old principles and practices with innovative works
The creative use of hydrated cellulose fibre pulp occurs on two levels. Firstly there is the making of paper by hand for its own sake. This process distributes pulp in a vat, then draws it out as a sheet with a mould and deckle, first dipped, then shaken, then couched. I will describe this briefly in a separate article
When you recycle waste paper to make pulp, the hard work is done for you by the paper mill. All you need to do is separate and hydrate the fibres again, to bring them back to the pulp produced by the mill, before it was made into the paper. You achieve this simply by tearing up the paper and beating it to a fine pulp in warm water. The pulp thus made is suitable for making paper by hand or for
Recycled waste paper provides a number of other advantages.
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 waste paper, warm water, white PVA glue as a binder, oil of wintergreen as a mould inhibitor, linseed oil as a smoother and toughener, whiting or other filler as a hardener, and granular materials for surface texture. The last three are optional. To make papier mache, first beat the waste paper thoroughly in the warm water. Remove excess water, then mix the pulp with white glue as a binder, adding a few drops of oil of wintergreen to prevent mould. The optional ingredients are then worked in if required. For more detailed information on papier mache, see
The papier mache can be pressed into moulds made from silicone. No releasing agent is necessary. The cast will shrink ten percent as it dries and come away from the mould. Because the mould is flexibile and the cast shrinks, a lot of undercut is tolerated. However it is important to ensure that pulp does not form a mass in any part of the mould and that all parts of the mould expose the pulp layer to evapouration. For more information see section 2 of
Paper pulp may be used on its own without any binders, fillers, or additives except perhaps those that might remain from the original paper making process at the paper mill. Cellulose is a complex carbohydrate that imparts rigidity to the walls of plant cells. The cellulose fibres from plants are the main ingredient of paper. When swelled with water (hydrated and macerated) the fibres can be caused to intertwine and felt. When compressed, the fibres cling tenaciously to each other forming a solid mass
There is an outstanding example of exploiting the natural cohesion of cellulose fibres in three dimensional works. Good waste paper is pulped, then formed into sheets using the traditional mould and deckle in a vat. The sheets are couched and pressed. The beater, vat, mould, and press can be very small, sufficient to produce sheets of say
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