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I'm relatively new to papier mache (PM), not having worked with the medium since being a kid and that was quite awhile back (disclaimer: I did do a mask a few years back as part of a education project while in grad school). While searching the net for information and inspiration I came across an artist who used a plastic medicine bottle in making a small vase. This particular piece was a globe about 4.5" tall by 5" wide and the bottle, enclosed in PM, allowed for flowers to be inserted in water.
I thought that I'd try a similar project and could use any advice anyone might be able to share. Would you create an armature surrounding the bottle, possibly using wadded/taped paper? Would you build up mounds of pulp? What would you suggest? How would you add weight to prevent the vase from tipping over when a flower is placed in it?
A previous post on the forum may have already addressed this but my search hasn't turned it up yet. As a "newbie" I am still exploring the forum but from what I can see, there is a wealth of information and a community of creative, helpful people. I look forward to the day that I can contribute to others visiting these pages.
Thanx! for any help you can give me on this matter.
Irv a/k/a "kokopellime"
If the waterproof element (bottle etc.) you use has weight, you shouldn't need to add any more. Otherwise I can suggest two ways to avoid overbalance.
1 Place stone or stones in the container.
2 Create a deeper base and include something heavy enough (stone, metal etc)
If you are developing a surface over glass, it is useful to cover it first with masking tape. This creates a bond between the glass and paper.
After that you can laminate paper and/or pulp for a thicker texture.
To create deeper contours, you can use pulp or use a dry filling. Yes, screwed up tape would work but I would recommend kitchen foil, pressed (even hammered) into shape and taped in position.
You can also create a broader base for the vase. Think of an orange with a slice cut off the bottom -- it won't roll.
If you want bulk and weight at the bottom of the container, instead of mounds or lumps of papier mache (they take more time to dry thoroughly), cover stones with PM and glue them in place.
Large flat metal washers will also add weight to the bottom without adding a lot of bulk.
Thanks to both of you for the suggestions. Borrowing from each of your posts, I think I will;
- first use a balloon of comparable diameter/circumference of the vitamin bottle as mould to create a globe shaped vase,
- cut out a hole in the dried globe to accommodate inserting the bottle
- place some pebbles or glass beads in the bottle to add weight (they will also provide an anchor for flower stem
- add additional layers of PM to close the opening and incorporate/disguise the bottle
On the inspiration piece, the artist seems to have used little, round, possibly rubber pads on the bottom to give the stability. All in all, I figure that I'll experiment and I am still open to suggestions. Thanx!
Sounds good. With the balloon - perhaps you're experienced with this already? - add no more paste than necessary to create a covering smear on each piece of paper; you want it to dry fairly quickly because there is always a chance of the balloon slowly deflating.
To add interest to the balloon shape, as well as a firmer base on which to paper, you can fill or partially fill it with water. This will make it more pear shaped.
In looking at the vitamin bottle that I'll use for this project, which is about 4.5" in height and 2.5" in width, I realized that the vase could be sculpted as a solid piece with a hollow well.
Paper pulp could be built up in whatever shape (globular, contoured etc.) I choose to give mass and then refined in subsequent layers. The mass is both relatively small i.e. the globe would be 5" around, so it wouldn't take a a great amount of material and at the same time that material would add to the piece's weight (I'd still put in some pebbles in the bottle for the stability of a flower's stem and additional weight)
The downside would be in drying time but that's more a matter of patience.
Any thoughts on this idea???
Extreme thickness is always accompanied by a serious drying issue, and even 1/4"-1/2" will require extreme care. If it doesn't dry completely, it will develop mold.
You can either build up the thickness gradually, drying thoroughly between layers, or use some kind of "fill" that will reduce the thickness of the actual papier mache. The first thing that came to my mind for your little project is some of those styrofoam "peanuts" used for packing, or the small ones that are used for filling beanbag footstools, etc. Build your inner form (that contains the vitamin bottle), then perhaps glue a sufficiently large piece of flexible paper to the bottom. Bring the paper up, filling it with the styrofoam pieces, adding and discarding as needed to form the shape you want.
For a basic round shape, you could even use a circular piece of non-synthetic* fabric (instead of paper) with a simple gathering stitch around the outside edge. Gather the edge a bit to form a cup, enough to hold the styrofoam filling, tightening the stitching as you get closer to the amount of bulk that you want, then finally tighten as much as you need, maybe fastening it around the neck of the bottle for a firm joint. Then brush glue onto the fabric and let it dry partially, do any manipulating of the fabric for the final design/look you want while it's still damp, and then let it finish drying. White PVA glue might be best right here, as you'll be adding paper over the fabric, and you don't want an organic glue to soften and distort the shape of your fabric (or paper) shell as you build it up.
*Synthetic fabrics tend to resist adhesives and can peel when dry, so use a natural fiber such as cotton, thin wool, or linen that will actually absorb the adhesive.
I'm in the DC area, and my studio is in my basement so I have dehumidifiers running in all but winter.
When I'm drying a piece I place it near the dehumidifier and with a small fan(s?) pointing at it. I've been able to dry pieces with about 1/2" layer of paper mache clay in a few days. When the piece is 'dry', but still cold to the touch, it isn't really dry. Once the piece reaches room temperature, it seems to be safe to work with.
I actually intentionally used 'thicker than I thought wise' amounts of clay on a project this spring just to see if I could get it to dry.
Since all of this is new, I'm in and experimental stage and will try just about all the ideas suggested here, possibly side by side and comparing methods.
I live in a modest sized apartment and I'm converting a part of my dining nook for doing my PM work. I have to look into a small, table top dehumidifier and maybe a portable heater that has a fan.
So 'b', what type of projects are you drawn to?
Masks were the original interest ... and still important to me.
Over the last 2 years I've done a series of pumpkins and gargoyles / etc. for Halloween display. But honestly the interest order was paper mache and then Halloween, vs. being a true Halloween fanatic. (In fact, I'm having a very hard time getting started this year, and time is definitely running out.)
I also create kazoo-based paper mache instruments called Kazoobas. I had a 20-person marching band in the local 4th of July parade this year. That was very fun. And I played one last night at a ukulele recital I was a part of.
I've made a duplicate of my torso that functions as a dress form for altering shirts, etc. and tried to make shoe lasts of a sort for my feet. (The foot ones are definitely harder to do.) And I have a taped 'thighs to neck' double of me that I just need to mache to make a real dress form for myself.
I have an interest in paper mache furniture embellishment too ... but haven't moved on that yet. (I'm getting progressively bigger in my experiments).
So my interest is pretty wide. : ) The Kazoobas are probably the most original and personal thing I've done. But I find I dive really deeply into something ... then need to walk away for a bit.