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PROBLEM WITH FINISHING - PAPER PULP

#1 2012-10-09 14:35:40

Zisuart
Member
Registered: 2012-10-09
Posts: 3

PROBLEM WITH FINISHING - PAPER PULP

Hello,

I often work with small figurines under 30cm.
And I need to have a smooth as possible texture of paper clay.

I dont buy paper clay I make it by myself.

The recipe is:
- newspapers torn it tiny bits , soaked over night, and then put in warm water in blender one at a time
- then I pour out the water over sieve
-and again until I get enough of paper pulp.
- then I wrap it in the towel and squeeze water out.
- use white glue with little water mixed in and pour it over the pulp
- I mixed that with hands
The picture of procedure is here:
http://www.zisuart.com/text/recept-glina.html

In the end I get something to do the details with:
pictures on this link
http://www.zisuart.com/paper-mache/vila … krila.html
web is in Croatian:)

BUT BUT:
as you can see its not smooth at all, and when its wet i can't get any smoother, and its not good enough for small details.

I see artwork around net which is very smooth, and this recipe is hard to sand, and to sand down the face or something like that is impossible with this recipe and small as this.

I will try the paper towel recipe with glue, but what am I doing wrong?

This paper clay at the end just is not at clay at all.

I thought also to try this, maybe someone has experience:
when i make paper pulp. Let it dry to get dry paper.
Brake it in small pieces and then put it in something like coffee mixer to get paper grounded like dust.

And then add glue/bindings..

Please help!

How to get that smooth finish for details without purchase of expensive material?

Thanks

Last edited by Zisuart (2012-10-09 14:36:55)

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#2 2012-10-09 16:06:33

Patraw
Member
From: Michigan, USA
Registered: 2008-09-10
Posts: 151
Website

Re: PROBLEM WITH FINISHING - PAPER PULP

Here are some of my techniques/tricks that I use on smoothing small PM figures (my stuff is usually around 1-3 inches / 2.54 - 7.62 cm tall):

1. I make small sandpaper "files" by glueing a piece of sandpaper around the perimeter of a toothpick--these are good for getting into tight nooks and crannies.  You can make several with different grits of sandpaper (you might want to to color code the toothpicks with a bit of paint/marker so you know which grit is which at a glance.)  I strongly recommend internal wire support, or supporting the structure you're sanding with your hand, because it is incredibly easy to snap off limbs on tiny PM figures from the force of the sanding.

2. A woodburner is a marvelous smoothing/compression tool for PM.  Just run the side of the heated instrument along the surface of your projects, with a moderate amount of force (you can also use the tip to do all sorts of detail work.)  As a benficial side effect, the extreme heat (800 degrees Farenheit on mine) also dries out your PM as you work on it.  Disclaimer:  I haven't used my wood burner in months - I've grown concerned about the effects of the smoke inhalation on my health, even working in front of an open window, so I thought it best to stop.

3. You can clip off bigger nubs/bumps with almost surgical precision using nail clippers and then sand the surface smooth again.

As far as paper clay goes, I just knead up some torn pieces of tissue paper with undiluted white glue in my hands.  I've never had much problem with the resulting surface texture being particularly rough.  Did you know you can make "clay" out of white glue all by itself?  Squirt some in your hand, rub your hands together for a bit, and voila, sticky clay!  Amongst other things, it's great for small details and filling it pits in your PM's surface.

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#3 2012-10-09 16:44:41

Zisuart
Member
Registered: 2012-10-09
Posts: 3

Re: PROBLEM WITH FINISHING - PAPER PULP

Thanks Mark for quick response!
That thing about the woodburner I diodnt know, thats usefull.
Supose I can use soldering iron maybe?

I will try again with the tissue towel and glue.

But still interested in getting my paper pulp recipe to be as smooth as posible.

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#4 2012-10-09 17:46:29

dopapier
Moderator
From: UK
Registered: 2004-12-04
Posts: 749

Re: PROBLEM WITH FINISHING - PAPER PULP

You could get in touch with Nives Cicin-Sain who lives in Split and gets the most amazing smooth results.  She has a gallery on this site and her own website with an e-book that describes her methods.


I'm a PM addict

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#5 2012-10-10 21:03:56

CatPerson
Moderator
From: Washington State, U.S.A.
Registered: 2006-01-09
Posts: 1307

Re: PROBLEM WITH FINISHING - PAPER PULP

The basic problem is that papier mache is made from paper.  Really!  Paper is made from fiber.  Even when you soak it and break it down as much as you can, it is still fiber.  Fibers cling together and form lumps.  You can smooth it when it's wet, but when the moisture evaporates, you've still got lumps and fibers standing up where you previously had a mix of fibers and water.  Real clay doesn't have this problem because it isn't made from fibers.

Sanding is the obvious solution for larger pieces, but difficult and tedious for small objects.

Using toilet tissue, which is usually quite fine to start, may help.  Don't add extra water, just gradually add the glue (diluted before adding, if you intend to dilute it), and then knead it to the point where it forms a suitable clay-like material.

There is also a technique called burnishing that can help, where you work the surface of the piece as it dries, smoothing the surface as the moisture evaporates, pressing any standing fibers back into the object. 

The rounded back of a spoon can be used for larger pieces, but for small objects you need something smaller.  Improvised burnishers are usually made from smooth wood or metal -- a wooden cuticle stick used for manicures can be useful, and they're inexpensive.  Look around your home for tools that might work.

Burnishing tools can often be purchased where hand tools are sold.  Here is one kind:  http://www.soldertoolsdepot.com/pc_boar … QgodrFIAYQ    You will notice that the tip is smooth, no sharp tip or edge to rip into the material you're working.

Sue

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#6 2012-10-10 23:18:38

bmaskmaker
Member
From: Takoma Park, MD
Registered: 2010-04-08
Posts: 93

Re: PROBLEM WITH FINISHING - PAPER PULP

Sue is right, paper is fibrous, so has a tendency to clump.  I do the dried paper in a coffee grinder thing for some of my clay, and even that doesn't make dust as much as fluff.  And once you wet the fluff, you get clumps again.  Smaller clumps to be sure, but still clumps.

What I do for smooth clay is mix drywall joint compound into it. This fills in the gaps between the tiny clumps of paper, just the same way it fills in the imperfections on drywall. 

Often I roll this clay out on board between 2 sheets of plastic, so it's starts out fairly smooth.  (Done carefully, you could potentially use it like cloth to drape clothes around the dolls.)  Since it's already smooth from being rolled out, it doesn't need much more smoothing in my opinion.  When the surface dries it resembles smoothed stone.  (Still tiny pits in places, but not bumpy like your pics). 

If I have a bigger area that I want to build up, I add the clay first, and then smooth it after, using either my gloved hand or plastic wrap (functions like the burnishing tools that Sue mentioned), and/or a brush dipped in paste (whatever paste recipe you're using). 

Here's a photo (link below) of my studio table with some rolled out clay.  I'm using a small brush dipped in glue to smooth the area in between the skull teeth.
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/s … directlink

It is possible to use more filler and less paper and get a smoother original surface, but in my experience it's less strong, and has a greater shrinkage rate.  You while you'd do less smoothing of lumps, you'll do more filling in of cracks and pits. 

The clay used in this bowl (link below) has added calcium carbonate (chalk) in addition to joint compound.  It created a much smoother surface, but was quite delicate, and broke easily when I was testing its strength. 
https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/5 … directlink

This next photo (link below)shows another clay recipe I was trying out (starting with a powdered cellulose) and while the clay was very smooth, and I did give the face eyes, dimples, nose, mouth, etc.  When the piece dried they deepened -- so what I sculpted as a 'normal' face, became an aged, with deep set mouth wrinkles and a rather mishapen nose when it dried.  The photo also shows the a closeup of the surface of my usual clay on the ribs.  I actually like a bit of texture, so I didn't try to smooth it out more than this. 

https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/m … directlink

-- Beth

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#7 2012-10-11 00:36:28

Zisuart
Member
Registered: 2012-10-09
Posts: 3

Re: PROBLEM WITH FINISHING - PAPER PULP

Thanks Beth fo examples!

I definitly learned some things. But also I think that the main problem with my recipe is not pulp but binding material. I get the pulp as destroyed as possbile.
I mix it in modified 700W blender for couple of minutes just a few pieces of paper.

I still havent tried chalk.

I have tried the white glue (something like that) and plaster but I missed ratio somewhere because it was just to dry. And I didnt know what to add, more water or glue. It was smooth but it was just falling apart all over.

Im in process of buying clay furnace and to start working with clay, but I wont replace paper mache with clay, because i love paper mache. So I would like to get better recipe.

I know there is hard work behind but also to find the best recipe that suites you is also a long road for me.

QUESTION:
when adding plaster/chalk to pulp+diluted glue do you add this just like that or prepare it separetly with water?
What is the aprox ratio for pulp/glue/plaster or chalk/water...

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#8 2012-10-12 18:33:45

bmaskmaker
Member
From: Takoma Park, MD
Registered: 2010-04-08
Posts: 93

Re: PROBLEM WITH FINISHING - PAPER PULP

Zisuart,

It's mostly personal preference -- I use a premixed joint compound (it's like a thick frosting consistency) vs. powdered -- so I use a 4:1 ratio -- 4 cups of paste to 1 cup of joint compound.  Then I mix that together.  Then I add my (dry) paper until it's the consistency I like.  The dry paper I use is shredded cellulose insulation from Home Depot/Lowes. 

I tend to make a 5lb batch of paper mache clay at a time, so I do it in a 5 gallon bucket and mix with a paint/mud mixer attached to a hand drill. 

The principles are the same if you're using smaller amounts. 

If you're starting with wet paper, check out Jonni's recipe at Ultimatepapermache.com ...

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#9 2012-10-12 18:37:03

bmaskmaker
Member
From: Takoma Park, MD
Registered: 2010-04-08
Posts: 93

Re: PROBLEM WITH FINISHING - PAPER PULP

If you're mixing it dry, I'd mix the plaster first (and if you use glue/water in your plaster vs. just water it should give expand your set time) ...

Jonty did some experiments last year on this.  His website is still up tho he died last year.  He called his stuff white matter.

http://darksidecreations.blogspot.com/2 … white.html

That might help you as well.

-- b

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