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Paper mache can be defined as a wet paper, pounded and mixed with starch, prepared in form of clay to be used for modeling. Papier-mâché  “chewed paper”, is a composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive, such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste. Preparation methods.

 

Papier-mâché with the strips method for the creation of a pig. Papier-mâché mask created with the pulp method Two main methods are used to prepare papier-mâché; one makes use of paper strips glued together with adhesive, and the other method uses paper pulp obtained by soaking or boiling paper to which glue is then added.

 

With the first method, a form for support is needed on which to glue the paper strips. With the second method, it is possible to shape the pulp directly inside the desired form. In both methods, reinforcements with wire, chicken wire, lightweight shapes, balloons or textiles may be needed.

The traditional method of making papier-mâché adhesive is to use a mixture of water and flour or other starch, mixed to the consistency of heavy cream. Other adhesives can be used if thinned to a similar texture, such as polyvinyl acetate-based glues (wood glue or, in the United States. Adding oil of cloves or other additives such as salt to the mixture reduces the chances of the product developing mold.

 

For the paper strips method, the paper is cut or torn into strips, and soaked in the paste until saturated. The saturated pieces are then placed onto the surface and allowed to dry slowly. The strips may be placed on an armature, or skeleton, often of wire mesh over a structural frame, or they can be placed on an object to create a cast. Oil or grease can be used as a release agent if needed. Once dried, the resulting material can be cut, sanded and/or painted, and waterproofed by painting with a suitable water-repelling paint.

Before painting any product of papier-mâché, the glue must be fully dried, otherwise mold will form and the product will rot from the inside out.

 

EUROPE

Detail of gilt papier-mâché as applied to an English picture frame. Starting around 1725 in Europe, gilded papier-mâché began to appear as a low-cost alternative to similarly treated plaster or carved wood in architecture. Henry Clay of Birmingham, England, patented a process for treating laminated sheets of paper with linseed oil to produce waterproof panels in 1772.

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These sheets were used for building coach door panels, amongst other structural uses. Theodore Jennens patented a process in 1847 for steaming and pressing these laminated sheets into various shapes, which were then used to manufacture trays, chair backs, and structural panels, usually laid over a wood or metal armature for strength. The papier-mâché was smoothed and lacquered, or finished with a pearl shell finish. The industry lasted through the 19th century.

 

Russia had a thriving industry in ornamental papier-mâché. A large assortment of painted Russian papier-mâché items appear in a Tiffany & Co. catalog from 1893. Martin Travers the English ecclesiastical designer made much use of papier-mâché for his church furnishings in the 1930s.

Papier-mâché has been used for doll heads starting as early as 1540, molded in two parts from a mixture of paper pulp, clay, and plaster, and then glued together, with the head then smoothed, painted and varnished.

Paper boats

One common item made in the 19th century in America was the paper canoe, most famously made by Waters & Sons of Troy, New York. The invention of the continuous sheet paper machine allows paper sheets to be made of any length, and this made an ideal material for building a seamless boat hull.

 

The paper of the time was significantly stretcher than modern paper, especially when damp, and this was used to good effect in the manufacture of paper boats. A layer of thick, dampened paper was placed over a hull mold and tacked down at the edges. A layer of glue was added, allowed to dry, and sanded down. Additional layers of paper and glue could be added to achieve the desired thickness, and cloth could be added as well to provide additional strength and stiffness.

 

The final product was trimmed, reinforced with wooden strips at the keel and gunwales to provide stiffness, and waterproofed. Paper racing shells were highly competitive during the late 19th century. Few examples of paper boats survived. One of the best known paper boats was the canoe, the “Maria Theresa,” used by Nathaniel Holmes Bishop to travel from New York to Florida in 1874–75. An account of his travels was published in the book “Voyage of the Paper Canoe.”

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PAPER MASKS

Creating papier-mâché masks is common among elementary school children and craft lovers. Either one’s own face or a balloon can be used as a mold. This is common during Halloween time as a facial mask complements the costume.

 

HOW TO MOLD WITH PAPER MACHE

Step 1 Make paste Make papier-mâché paste by mixing equal parts flour and water in a bowl, stirring the mixture with a spoon until it is smooth and soupy.

Quick Tip:

Substitute white glue for water for big projects, such as a volcano or large masks or figures.

Step 2 Tear newsprint Tear newsprint into long, thin strips for round papier-mâché project forms and wider strips for other shapes.

Step 3 Make form Use inflated balloons, cardboard boxes, wire mesh, or any combination of rigid materials to make a skeleton or frame for your project.

Step 4 Oil the form lightly oil the skeleton so you can easily remove it when the papier-mâché dries.

Step 5 Dip strips into paste dip your newsprint strips into the paste, making sure each side gets thoroughly covered.

Step 6 Lay strips Lay strips on the skeleton, overlapping them and smoothing them out with your fingers. Continue adding strips until the form is covered with at least three layers.

Step 7 Allow to dry Allow the project to dry completely, adding more layers if necessary. Carefully remove the skeleton after final layers have had time to dry.

Step 8 Paint your project using any type of paint you like and when you show off your original paper mache dolls, animals, and other creations.

 

See also

DRAMA

PRINCIPLES AND ELEMENTS OF ARTS

DANCE

TEAM WORK AND SENSE OF BELONGING

DEFINITION OF DRAMA AND THEATER

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