Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Paper Mache Clay Experiment - What I would do differently

This is so typical of me to just jump in where angels fear to tread and make up my own rules.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn't but I always learn something.   

While I like the results of the sculpture...Goddesses All - Hope...I would in future make a much lighter armature. 

So, keep searching for the perfect method for you.  

Here are some people I have stumbled across in my research who are not afraid to generously share their knowledge and experience. 

Sue McLeary is a British artist who specializes in paper and collage and makes wire armatures for her creations. You can find her on Facebook under  Sue McLearie - Wire & paper sculptures.

Check out her process detailed in the photo albums.

Jonni Good has gained notoriety for her surprising recipe for paper clay ( hint - a roll of toilet paper is involved). 

Her armature method begins with a cardboard template. 

You can see one of her several videos on You tube

and check out her web page and forum at

Not to leave the men out, Scott A. Stoll has developed 

interesting methods, recipes, tutorials and advice. He shares

them here:

I don't want to ruffle feathers by not mentioning all you 

talented paper mache artists out there but  this was never 

meant to be a comprehensive list

I am just mentioning some I have run across  in my personal 


I especially want to extend a hearty thanks for the 

encouragement and advice I got from the talented folks on 

Facebook at  Paper Mache Art. You know who you are.

If you like paper mache you really have to check out their 

work and glean some helpful hints.

Hope this helps anyone wanting help or wondering where to 


Above all have fun! 

Whatever your beliefs may you enjoy all the pleasures this 

time of the year has to offer. 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Goddesses All - Hope

These are (probably) the final photos of the sculpture that I call  Goddesses All - Hope

She is dedicated to those brave women (and men) that have battled breast cancer.

I am both humbled and inspired by their courage, determination, spirit and will.

Without further ado

And a special thanks to the fur people who aided me and abetted me in this process.

First to Irma for not lending me her pretty little scalloped toed foot.
And finally to Reg who, without any sculptures to eat, has turned his paws to strangling Irma.

Thanks for watching!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Experimenting with Paper Clay - Goddesses All - Part V

The gift of sight

Okay, for better or worse the eyes are in.

Remember the disastrous alien eyes I produced last week?  I decided to take a different approach and using the same glass pebbles from the dollar store here are the steps I took.

But here she is with only gaping sockets

Glass pebbles  painted white..

bare pebbles and ones with  iris, pupil and highlight. A clear gloss shine was added when everything was dry.

 Next I used the same fabric I used for  the hair and cut a tiny strip out to use for eyelashes. Here you can see the first one cut out and trimmed back and the second one almost cut out.

Tip: when cutting any furry material always cut from the wrong side being careful to keep the pile on the other side parted out of the way of the scissors. This assures that you will get a more natural looking furry edge instead of one that looks like a bad haircut.

This is a before and after of the trimmed eyelashes

Wow. I can see!  She seems startled at seeing the mess of my studio/bedroom  I wager.

Here both are in place.

 Side view

So aside from any tweaks that is it for her I think.  I feel lost now without having this project to think about and work on.

But the imminent arrival of guests has taken precedence and my time will be occupied with shoveling out the bedroom and then the rest of the house.

Thanks for stopping by. Until next time, adieu.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Experimenting with Paper Clay - Goddesses All - Part IV

The following documents the latest changes

Mixed me up a batch of flesh colored paint. Looks too matte but I can fix that later.

Next came the tattoo that would cover areas that might disturb some viewers.  I have no idea why crotches disturb some people but I would not want to cause undue squirming.

Still deciding whether to put additional tattoos on in other areas.
Below I have half hidden some words among the leaves and vines. For example across the breasts are the words VICTORY and COURAGE
After COURAGE comes HOPE 

Then SUPPORT. Nothing like a well supported crotch.

Across the thigh is the word  SURVIVOR

Then I tried out these weird eyes. I had the not so bright idea to take a dollar store glass pebble and paint a pretty blue iris and black pupil on the flat back of the pebble. It might have worked except the pebble had a sort of iridescent green sheen to it.  I will tuck that away in case I make an alien sometime.
Although now I look again I wonder if I could tweak them a little and make them work. After all I was able to perform the sex change surgery quite successfully so why not eye surgery too?  Hmmm  

I just called Reg to ask his opinion but he didn't answer.
When I went to find him I noticed that the little dear couldn't wait for the dishwasher to get full enough to run so he had decided to do the dishes. 

I guess he couldn't hear me above the slurping. Plus he was excited about this heretofore untapped source of food.  You can't really blame him for being tired of licking out the drain and sink and running his little pink tongue over knife blades in the hopes of snagging some bits of cheese or meat.  
He is lovely to watch as he cavorts among the boiling pots on the stove.
It just proves what a rotten mother I would have made. One word from me and he does what he wants.
Yes. He opened the dishwasher door himself just like he does all the other doors and cupboards in the house.  
So far he has not gotten into a machine full of clean dishes.  Or has he?  Say anyone want to come over for supper. I just made a really great macaroni and cheese/tuna fish casserole from scratch.  I love combining those two comfort food favorites from my youth.

 But I digress. Shortly after I recovered from the dishwasher incident I brushed on a little bronze acrylic paint mixed with clear Gesso.  It gave a little more life to the skin and hid some uneven tones that had worried me.

Today I added the long awaited hair using some fun fur I bought back in the 80's. It has traveled to Ecuador and back with me.

I had wanted to crackle the bronze paint but something went wrong with the process and nothing cracked this time.  Must have been due to the previous Dr. Phil intervention.

The surface of the paper clay is very difficult to smooth so I let the bronze dry a little and then rubbed some of it off. A lot of it caught in the dips and craters of the rough surface allowing me to to pretend that I had left it rough on purpose.

May I also draw your attention to the fact that she will now stand on her own. This is due in part to a friend having given her a good screw. It goes right through her right foot. The left food is secured by another screw that comes up through the leg and does not show.

I had the good fortune to go to visit a sculptor friend and his wife.  I suspected he might have something lying around that would serve as a good stand.

The first thing we looked at was this gorgeous plank. It was just the right size and makes a good solid base with a history. His house was built in 1870 and this is a board from the attic.  I may insert or even paint on a yoga mat at some point as I find I am not as enamored of the rough finish as I was initially.  I love old rugged boards but this may not compliment the statue. What do you think?

BTW The photo of the older lady on the wall is a reference I will  use to paint the face/head for Hortense, the life sized doll that has been patiently waiting.

I kind of like this wild pixie look. What about you?

See you when I finally decide on eyes and then this will be finito.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Experimenting with Paper Clay ctd. - Goddesses All - part III

Still hanging in there. I had no idea that goddesses could be such a pain in the patooty.

Anyhoo....I did a little surgery on that uber masculine face...with a bread knife! 
The current plan is to add paper clay to build up and smooth out the sawed off areas with the ultimate goal being a more goddess-like face.

But first the arms. I tried the first arm on for size; more bread knife action was needed to hollow out under the arm pit and also the inside part of the arm nearest the arm pit so it would hug in closer to the body. Then it was wired in place.

I have been deliberately leaving the hand and wrist naked (no paper clay) until I get the arm positioned permanently and then I can fool with positions before adding the clay.  It does firm things up considerably.

With all this messing about cracks had begun to appear at stress points.  Without even trying I had created a Crack Ho!

Not to worry. I contacted Dr. Phil and asked him to send his team to perform an intervention. The family all wrote letters to her; we cried, threatened and blew our noses, she tried to storm out but the paper clay had stiffened up so she didn't make much progress. Finally she agreed to have treatment with the hot glue gun.

While I had it out I glued both arms to shoulder joints and head to neck.
Here is a close up of the now paper clayed hand glued to the leg.

Now it is on to hair and eyes.  I still have not found a large enough base that will support her.

See you later.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Experimenting with Paper Clay ctd. - Goddesses All - part I I

Work continues ever so slowly on the Goddess.  I am amazed that I am still hanging in here. I usually get bored and give up on something that is taking too a marriage, college degree or career and stuff like that.  Patience has never been my strong point.

Here are a few photos to show what has been transpiring over the past few days.

The torso needed to have more of a back bend as befits the Exalted Warrior Pose that I have settled on.
Risking weakening the structure by cutting a wedge in the back,   I then wired the torso to pull it into position and left it over night. That resulted in some improvement.

and in the front just under the breasts I stuffed more newspaper to bend it back as well. 

Then I finished off the hands by shaping them out of wire and inserting them into the wrist portion of the arms.

I covered each finger and the palms and back of the hand with paper mache.

This morning I whipped up a new batch of the paper clay

and began applying it to the back of the figure.  You can just see the wire that is keeping the body leaning back. I hope it will not separate once the clay dries.
Here is a better picture of the wire and bend in the back.  Ouch that must hurt!

I decided that I may as well cover everything I had ready with the new batch of clay as it does not keep well.  this is the slightly altered face. It is harder than I expected to feminize it.  The creepy vampire I originally envisioned is still peering out.  

Head looks oddly shaped and needs more work.  A wig will take care of the back of the head but the forehead is very low and could use some work....I am thinking seriously about making an entirely new head.

Here are the arms hanging from plant hooks out in the porch of my Little Shoppe of Horrors.

I had a wee mishap when I decided to hang the torso and legs from a hook as well.  To my horror the wire came apart and she crashed to the floor in a most Ungoddess like manner, landing on one butt cheek and flattening it horribly.

Tomorrow I hope the back will be dry enough to work on the front of the body.

Will also have a look around for something  that would be appropriate for a stand.


Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Experimenting with Paper Clay ctd. - Goddesses All - part I

It has come to my attention that I am easily led. And quite possibly schizophrenia. But I prefer to think of myself as flexible and intuitive!

When I make art I generally start out with a pretty clear idea of what I am going to make. This pretty much guarantees disappointment since many things don't turn out the way I envision them.

This time my vision was of a male vampire. An old time vampire with a black cloak flowing around him. The cape had that very high collar  that came up over his ears and of course a red satin lining. He would skulk around in the shadows.  All was going well.

Note: I am keeping the photos small this time as there are so many.  I believe you can click on them to enlarge.

He was going to be manly, with a beaky nose and deep eye sockets.

Below ...on my beautiful new/old duvet cover from Jitterbugs - is a slim box that I rescued from the recycle bin to use for the torso armature.  I added the legs to see if the proportions were right.

This is when my schizophrenia began to manifest.  An insistent female voice made me understand that this sculpture I am working on is not a male and certainly not one of those ubiquitous vampires.  

Contrary to what some people would tell you, I am easy to get along with so once I understood that I had no choice in the matter I plunged into re shaping the torso with more layers of newspaper.  I was well into two nicely rounded breasts when  "The Voice"  (Hey that would make a good name for a TV series) piped up insisting she wanted only one breast.  I complied.

On the left is the torso with one breast.

On the right are the neck and shoulders. I inserted a piece of plastic into the neck opening in order to allow the head piece to swivel around more easily.

Feminizing the face...adding more chin, flattening the beaky nose, add some cheek bones and fleshy lips.  I am beginning to feel like a plastic surgeon who specializes in sex changes,

I added a wooden bead for the knee and made a hollow in the torso where the hip can swivel freely.  Or so I thought!
Leg with initial paper strips laid on. Sorry it doesnt show up too well on that expanse of newspaper. It makes for easy cleanup of my work surface.

Toes were shaped on tooth picks and inserted into the foot.

Now this is where whirling thoughts of Goddesses and Warrior women began to take shape.

Why not put her in a  yogic pose called Warrior Two?  Form with no feet looks out of proportion.

So much for the movable joints I so carefully constructed. They now only serve to weaken the structure as the joints move. I will have to do some hard thinking about how I can remedy this.

Feet added. Still a bit of tweaking to do as regards proper placement of feet and direction of knees
This ain't what I would call the proper form   for this pose.  Sister Marie ( my former yoga teacher) would be horrified if she saw this wobbly warrior.

Sigh.  Back to the drawing board.

Be back with more pictures as the work progresses.  Still have to do arms, refine shape, support wobbly limbs, add paper clay and gesso and paint.   

Paper Mache Clay Experiment - What I would do differently

This is so typical of me to just jump in where angels fear to tread and make up my own rules.  Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn...