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I would like to help my students make life-size self-portrait busts -out of clay, and then go over the clay with papier mache. We will then cut the papier mache enough so that it can be removed from the clay. (The cuts will then be repaired with strips of papier mache).
I’m wondering what kind of paper, and glue, to use - so that the details that students achieve in their clay modeled busts, carry through to the papier mache?
(Note: The resulting papier mache (shell) is going to be the final product. We will not be trying to cast positives out of the papier mache shell.)
Also, what would you recommend, as a release agent, on top of the clay? (So that we can remove the papier mache shell).
Thank you, Curly
What age group are you teaching, children, teens or adults?
What kind of clay will you be using, an oil-based clay like Plastacine, or a drying clay like terra cotta?
Are the portraits being hand-carved from the clay, or are you using plaster-bandage material directly on the human faces to form a sort of identical mask?
Plasticine clay is oil-based, so it shouldn't need any release agent. You can just start laying the paper on the clay surface.
If you're using water-based natural clay and letting it dry, you will need a release agent like an oil or petroleum jelly.
Some people like soft papers like newspaper, others like firmer types like brown paper bags. You would generally need three to five layers of paper (usually more of the thinner kind), and the best way to know you're getting complete layers is to use two colors of paper.
If you're using newspaper, alternate unprinted paper, printed paper or advertising (any two will do).
If you're using paper bags or other brown paper, you could either find the white bleached type (more expensive), or use the same brown paper, with felt tip marker scribbled all over it to differeniate it from the plain brown layer.
Glues can be simple cooked flour + water, or a half/half mix of white craft (PVA) glue and water.
I'm sure you realise that there must be no moisture in your clay because it will be absorbed into your papier mâché, making it soggy. In your area, if you read the Star Tribune, you will know the work of Steve Sack, particularly his recent installation of the sky divers. Check out his gallery on this website, or go to his own website. He has a lot of experience with papier mâché and might be able to advise you.
My students are 14-18 years of age.
The clay that we are using is rejected pottery clay.
The self-portrait modeling is going to be done by hand.
I am curious to know if you have the time to let the pottery clay dry before applying the papier mache or, like David said, the paper will absorb moisture from the damp clay.