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I need advice on using paper mache in a plaster mould. I am making puppet heads for a show this coming winter.
I believe this method is usually used for latex masks, but latex doesn't really suit my purposes. Basically I've sculpted a form out of oil based modeling clay and will create a plaster mould from this. I'd like to then use this mould to create several copies of the same head. These will be used as blanks which I will then add additional paper mache to, sand, cut, add hair, enamel, paint etc... I've attempted this in the past with mixed results. I made two masks the first came out of the mould fairly whole the second was a disaster and stuck to and destroyed the mould. For latex masks I think they use vasaline in the mould to keep it from sticking. What do you think I should put in the mould so the paper mache comes out cleanly? Also, I need a really hard and smooth finish what receipe would everyone recommend? I'd rather make rather than buy a product.
It takes me a long time (at least 4-5 hours) to sculpt the face and that is part of the reason I am not directly sculpting with paper mache. Also, I need a very precise finish where small errors can later be sanded out and think this will work better in a mould.
Any advice will be much appreciated and thank you in advance!
I have been making paper mache masks from a plaster mould for about three months. I have cast five moulds, and made around 15 masks. I have had various trials and tribulations, and have managed to repair both moulds and masks. I have been using vaseline a release agent, and have to make a number of repairs to the mask after removing it from the mould. The last time I tried vaseline and some Pam, had a better release with fewer significant areas of paper stuck to the mould. It is also of importantance how you apply the first layer of paper (saturated with water/no glue seems to work well).
As to a hard strong surface, several coats of acrylic varnish or lacquer works very well. It is also important to coat the surface of the mask with glue when removing it from the mould. Subsequent to that, layers of gesso can be added prior to painting.
How did it go? I was just doing a google search on this very subject as I am currently engaged in doing the exact same thing. I've just finished making the oil clay heads and was about to begin making the plaster molds. I was going to use paper clay for the heads themselves and found a good recipe but here in Japan couldn't find the recommended joint/drywall compound so was going to use plaster. So my question was, how did your venture work out? Do you have any tips?
"It is also important to coat the surface of the mask with glue when removing it from the mould."
I must have must have missed this the first time... WHY?
(I know this is an old post, but he does wander through here occasionally.)
I have a good plaster mould,but the papier mache stuck and came away in bits,any ideas much appreciated.
As dwinitt said, it is important that the first layer of paper has no adhesive on it at all. This means at the very least laying a first layer which is only moist and a second the same, except that you can smear a very thin layer of paste on the inner side before applying the next. Hopefully no adhesive will soak through to the plaster.
You perhaps might play safe by allowing the first three layers to dry, gently lifting them temporarily from the mould, before applying the additional layers that provide the strength.
One product that many people seem to have success with as a mold release for PM is Murphy Oil Soap. I've never tried it because I've never seen it for sale around here. I just looked around online, and someone said it's used for horse tack and wood furniture, so I've probably been looking in the wrong places.
One papier mache artist specified that you must get the concentrated type, with the screw-top lid, NOT the diluted spray-type version. Use it full strength on the plaster, applying it with a sponge.
Then continue with David's instructions above for applying a couple of layers of wet paper that has no adhesive, and then continuing with paper+adhesive.
And the plaster cast must be fully cured before you apply any type of mold release. Plaster will first harden (starting in about 5 to 15 minutes for most types), and then it will take a minimum of three full days to complete its chemical curing. Heating it will not speed the curing. Using it before it is fully cured may cause the plaster mold to crack or chip.
If your master form is not too detailed, it is possible to pull copies from a positive mould instead of the negative mould you describe.
I make master forms out of Plastilina clay, papier mache over the form, and remove the papier mache shell after it is dry. I use the strip method of PM, not the ground paper method. If the form is simple, without lots of undercuts etc., this works well for several "castings". I use plastic wrap as mould release.
If I want the casting to be very durable, I sometimes pour the completed papier mache form full of wood putty (Durham's Rock Hard). You could also use plaster of paris for this bit.