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Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Paper Mache

When my kids were little, I used to love making pinatas for them.  My very first one was Zach and Weezy from Dragon Tales, and do I have a picture?  Sad to say no.  Now my kids are kind of too "grown-up" for such things, although for N's tenth birthday I did make him one even though he didn't ask.  He hates tomatoes, so I made him one to whack:
Lucky for me, this one didn't take too long to make, so it was easy to watch all that work get smashed into pieces.  To get a nice round shape use one of those punching balloons as the mold.  Here's a quicker project with similar steps ----
These are what you'll need:
THE PASTE:
1/2 c of flour, preferably bread flour due to its higher gluten content
3/4 c hot water
1   T salt (mildew deterrent)

THE MOLD:
A plastic or ceramic bowl.

THE RELEASING AGENT:
A few drops of cooking oil (not pictured)

THE MEDIUM:
A paper shopping bag

OPTIONAL (not pictured):
A tall glass for the bowl to sit on as a pedestal while you work.
A microwave.

The steps: ----
MAKE STRIPS:
Start from the bottom and then the side to undo the seams of the bag. Remove the handles.  
Make 1-inch accordion folds and tear along the folds to give strips of paper.  Don't use scissors.  Torn edges give lots of surface area for the strips to adhere to each other.
PREP THE MOLD:
Place the tall glass upside down onto the work surface.  Place the bowl upside down onto the glass.  Grease the bottom of the bowl with a few drops of oil.

SCULPT:
In a large bowl, combine all ingredients for the paste and stir until you get the consistency of thin pancake batter.  Dip the tip of a strip of paper into the batter.  Make a "peace sign" with your pointer and middle finger, place the strip of paper between the fingers, and drag the batter down the strip.  Don't over-soak the strips of paper.  Drape the strip of paper over the bottom of the bowl and let the sides flare out.  If the paper hangs too far beyond the lip of the bowl, just tear it to the length you need.  The paper should not stick to the sides of the bowl.  Repeat this process, (ONE STRIP AT A TIME) until you're happy with the shape and thickness.
DRY:
You can leave the bowl as-is to dry and harden for a day or two, or do the following (don't do this for balloon molds for obvious reasons).....
In 30-second intervals, microwave the bowl with the glass pedestal.  WATCH THIS CAREFULLY, and USE OVEN MITTS to remove the pedestal and bowl.  Microwaving will not dry or harden the bowl completely.  Once it's cool to the touch, you can shape the bowl by squeezing it between a couple of glasses or bottles, and let it dry completely overnight.
Once the bowl is dry, you can decorate it to your liking.  I haven't found the inspiration to do this yet.  I kind of like the organic look...

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