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It's been awhile since I've done paper mache and looking to take on a project with making a few masks. I have a few older store-bought masks that are hard plastic that I was looking to mache on top of so I could duplicate them and paint them different colors, however I had a couple questions as to the best way to go about it
Firstly, I do not want to cause any damage to the existing masks when I'm doing this so I was curious as to the best way to go about ensuring they aren't damaged. Would petroleum jelly be a good use for this, or should I use something like Saran wrap?
The paper mache I will be doing is just for the front half of the face but would I still be better off doing a half face at a time in order to be able to release the dried paper mache and then just gluing them together afterwards? Or would it be possible to do the full face all together without having any problems releasing it from the hard plastic mask underneath?
And lastly would there be any suggestions you may have regarding the best method to use in order to try and capture as many details from the original mask as possible? By using Kleenex versus paper? Or would either message suffice along with some watered down PVC glue?
Thank you! :-)
I wouldn't use petroleum jelly because it would be difficult to remove from you original mask. Saran wrap (I think it's what in UK is Clingfilm) would be OK but it would be difficult to keep it tight to the detail. If your mask won't be damaged by water, you could experiment by damping it and then pressing the film close with no air bubbles. If it works you could use that as your release.
Another might be to lay two or three layers of damp paper, pushing it into all the detail, then start the pasted layers. As long as you use any paste sparingly, it should not seep through into the unpasted paper.
Paper? Something of the nature of thin newspaper would be ideal, about six layers with paste. There is a method of using toilet paper, described by Nives Cicin-Sain in her book but it tends to be a fairly sophisticated technique.
It would be easier to do the entire mask than to make two pieces and try to fasten them together.
If the original mask is one of those that are commonly seen in craft shops, I think you could apply the papier mache directly to it, as PM doesn't stick too well to plastic when it's dry -- you can usually pop it off (as long as you didn't wrap any around the edges). But trying just a lump as David suggested could be a good idea, just to make sure, and then follow the rest of his directions.
"...regarding the best method to use in order to try and capture as many details from the original mask as possible..."
Are you speaking of duplicating a FINISHED mask that was built on top of a plastic form? Or a formed all-plastic mask such as B, below?
A) Basic plastic mask: https://www.amazon.com/Creativity-Stree … B00A6VYL4O
B) Molded plastic mask: https://unboundart.deviantart.com/art/D … -121699614
C) Built-up handmade mask: https://www.google.com/search?hl=en& … 4935427238
If B, it should be no more of a problem than A, but when you're laying the strips, press them firmly into the depressed areas.
If C, you will have to use Saran Wrap (Clingfilm), and then start from the center and work your way to the edges, carefully. Even then, after you remove it from the mold, you will have to clean up any places where the plastic film folded or wrinkled.
If you have or are making a mask that you want to DUPLICATE, we would be talking about MOLDMAKING, and you would want to use the original as a Form, cover with plastic film, and build a Mold over it. When it's dry, you would remove the original, and build your papier mache mask inside the mold to Duplicate all of the details.
This kind of mask is the most difficult to duplicate; if there is even one undercut (like a long, hooked nose), you won't be able to remove the duplicate from the mold without tearing it to pieces.
Molds are often made of plaster, or non-drying clay (Plasticine in the U.S.), or clays that do harden, but aren't fired in a kiln.
If using non-hardening (oil-based) clay, most of them have enough oil in them that they will separate from the new creation, but adding a bit of petroleum jelly won't hurt.
If using a porous mold (plaster, drying clay, etc), when it is completely dried or cured, you will need to line it with Zinsser Bulls Eye brand spray shellac (this is a true shellac and not a synethic polyurethane) and let it dry, so the papier mache glue doesn't seep into the tiny holes (then you'll never separate it from the mold).
And then when ready to use, you must apply a thin coating of petroleum jelly or mineral oil (baby oil type, not tool oil type) before you start applying your papier mache.
Moldmaking is an art in itself, so do some research before you decide go in that direction.