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Papier Mache Surfboard

#1 2010-04-30 16:16:38

ilovesabrina
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From: Gloucester UK
Registered: 2010-04-30
Posts: 2

Papier Mache Surfboard

I need some advice from all you pm experts.

I am planning to make a surfboard out of papier mache rather than the traditonal materials of polyester resin and glass cloth. I have already made a resin board as well as dabbled with pm sculptures over the years. The challenge is to produce something that is environmentally friendly as well as cheap. I have already shaped the the surfboard form (blank) from a recycled polyurethane foam windsurfing board.I would like to cover the board in layers of newsprint and cooked flour paste. I have done some experimenting and this seems to be the cheapest and strongest recipe?. I think at least 10 layers should be strong enough, maybe a few more where the feet go. Newspaper and flour seems to dry very hard but is a bit brittle but perhaps I could put a layer or 2 of muslin or brown paper for strength? I have tried brown paper and pva glue but this has too much flex and I don't think it will protect the soft foam underneath enough. I thought I would finish the board off with several coats of shellac  and maybe some wax to waterproof it.

One thing that has inspired me has been the paper racing canoes produced by Elisha Waters in the USA in the last century. If paper is strong enough for boats (and furniture) then a surfboard should be no problem.

Drying so many layers over a large area is going to be a bit of a problem but i'm sure that cane be overcome (Leaving it in the sun, making a heated box). The strength of the board is important but it does not have to be iron clad or last forever. Modern resin boards shatter quite easily anyway. So what materials would you suggest to layer over a piece of foam about 8 foot long 2 foot wide and 4 inches thick that would have some sort of robustness? If I can produce something under 20 pounds in weight I will be happy.

Your comments and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.


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#2 2010-04-30 22:10:50

dopapier
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From: UK
Registered: 2004-12-04
Posts: 702

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

This is ambitious.  Flour is not a good paste for this - it is brittle (as you have noticed) and hydroscopic.  Pure PVA will probably be better.
Look through the Forum threads and you will find discussion on boat making and on waterproofing.
DavidO


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#3 2010-05-01 03:01:24

CatPerson
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From: Washington State, U.S.A.
Registered: 2006-01-09
Posts: 1182

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

Paper + environmentally friendly + salt water is probably as good a recipe for disaster as I've seen outside of greedy politicians and the Titanic.

I'm quite certain that shellac won't hold up.  I've used multiple coats on wood, and it still wears off, even in rain.  Salt water is even more corrosive.  The only sealing/surface treatment that is likely to work at all is marine varnish.

PVA as your adhesive is probably your best bet.  Not great, but organic adhesives are too susceptible to water.  You might try a small sample of cellulose adhesive, but that may not work well, either.

The problem is that enviro-friendly materials and corrosives just don't work well together... at least, for very long. 

I would advise making a very small surfboard all the way through to the final finishes, then let it sit in ocean water for a couple of weeks and see what happens.  I would hate to see you put all that time and effort into a full-sized surfboard just to have it fall apart.

Sue

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#4 2010-05-01 11:38:15

ilovesabrina
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From: Gloucester UK
Registered: 2010-04-30
Posts: 2

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

Thank you for your advice.

Can flour be made less brittle by washing out the starch before and leaving behind the gluten which would be more flexible? Would this need to be cooked to make it stronger? Is anyone familiar with "gluten mache"?

Could flour be made less hydroscopic by mixing in pva wood glue? I think the flour will be a disaster if water gets in.

I am planning to first use the board to surf the tidal bore on my local river which is fresh so salt water wont be a problem initially.

I have done some 2 foot square test laminations on a piece of polystyrene foam and tested their strength by hitting them with a hammer. All 20 layers of paper.

Newspaper and flour - strong but brittle - shatters when hit hard but can resist some gradual pressure.
Brown paper and pva glue - when hit very hard hammer bounces without any damage but prolonged pressure leaves a bit of a dent.
Alternate layers of brown paper and newsprint - not as brittle and seems more resistant.

Ideally I would like to use single sheets of paper for laminating but they seems to wrinkle when wet so torn squares will probably be better.

Shellac - I thought this was a favourite with old fashioned boat builders? Also apparently there is a resin made from soya beans but I would imagine its expensive.


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#5 2010-05-01 14:50:12

dopapier
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From: UK
Registered: 2004-12-04
Posts: 702

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

Great to see that you are experimenting.  Why the obsession with flour?  The best is CMC, though quite difficult to get hold of.  One of the Pritt products is a papiermache paste that is pure CMC and very good.  Using this with a high proportion of PVA should be good.  If you can't find that, go for wallpaper paste.

Don't make the paper wet.  It should only be dampened by the paste with the feeling of a thin coating over the surface.
Doing it over a polystyrene board is a good idea.  Make sure you laminate both sides evenly and allow them to dry as you proceed.  The bond with the polystyrene can be a problem.  On one project I overcame this by painting undiluted PVA on the polystyrene first, then adding the first layer of paper with undiluted PVA.  It stuck really well.
A strong laminate can be made by alternating kraft and bond papers.  Newspaper is not necessary in this.
Yes, certainly, use torn paper.  There is so much expansion in a dampened (or wetted) whole sheet that you are sure to get wrinkling.  I'd suggest pieces of about 4 square inches but this is only a very rough indication.  Don't try to be precise at all.
I'm looking forward to seeing a photo of you skimming down the river!!
DavidO


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#6 2010-05-01 14:57:07

paper soup
Member
From: Small Town Texas USA
Registered: 2008-08-10
Posts: 107

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

I have used woodworkers glues to increase the water resisitance of paper mache. It still needs a good sealant coat, but Weldbond glue is one of the best, and is non toxic. I understand that it can be used to seal masonry products, but I do know that it makes a great paper mache glue. It dilutes well and is pretty darn water resistant.
http://www.amazon.com/Frank-Ross-Gallon … d_sbs_sg_3

Another, but probably less green alternative, is old fashioned powdered resin glue. This stuff is bomb proof. Has a long dry time and is very water resistant. Almost to the point of being water proof. Again, not the greenest product out there, as it contains formaldehyde, but it will give a very water resistant bond and, when diluted properly gives a nice long drying time for positioning and smoothing paper.
http://www.amazon.com/00203-Weldwood-Pl … OOXWWGTKYX

Last edited by paper soup (2010-05-01 14:57:46)

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#7 2010-05-01 17:01:58

CatPerson
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From: Washington State, U.S.A.
Registered: 2006-01-09
Posts: 1182

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

Another thought:  I know a lot of people are adamant that they want to make something of papier mache.  For a large work where you don't want wrinkles, you might test 'cloth mache'.  All the principles hold, except you're using fabric instead of paper.  Old sheets are great.

Sue

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#8 2010-05-01 17:24:31

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

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

Laminating your paper together first might help.

One of the things that I do is laminate my paper together in layers before tearing or placing it on my form.  This way the paper doesn't wrinkle as much and saves me time in building up layers and covering large forms.

Basically my set up is a large serving tray (26 x 18) with a sheet of freezer paper taped in the bottom to make clean up easier - (tho I only change this paper out when needed, maybe every 2-3 weeks), some wall paper squeegie / smoothing tools and a squeeze bottle which holds my glue mix (75% CMC, 25% pva).

I then squeeze out a ribbon of glue onto the tray, spread it out, the lay in a sheet of whole newspaper, squeeze another ribbon of glue, spread glue / lay another sheet of newspaper, the cmc/glue mix lets you shift your sheet a bit or lift it up and put it down again to get a good placement ... then smooth it a bit get out large wrinkles), add ribbon of glue, spread it, lay another sheet of newspaper, squeeze glue, spread / smooth.  Then seriously smooth it out - no wrinkles, squeeze layers down. 

Your end result should be 3 layers of newspaper laminated together (making it a bit like thin leather) and ready to either use whole on a large form, or tear into strips for smaller pieces. 

When tearing it, I use something to put pressure on the paper like another newspaper spreader, or a ruler, or aluminum flashing ... which helps the paper to tear in a relatively straight line. 

I got the multiple strips at a time idea from Monique Roberts book http://www.moniquerobertstudios.com/js/book.htm .

I alternate newspaper layers with something else ... copy paper/brown paper ... going in the opposite direction for strength. 

I think the idea of adding a fabric in for strength is a good one ... muslin, cotton sheet.  Those would add strength.

Also, CMC (Methyl Cellulose) can be found at papermaking / bookbinding suppliers or ceramic/pottery suppliers.  The best prices I've seen are at the pottery suppliers (~ $5-8/lb)  Or you can experiment first with a 2oz box of Elmer's art paste - which is the same stuff. 

As for waterproofing ... something like Paverpol might work for environmental friendliness (it's non-toxic anyway) ... but it's expensive.

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#9 2011-01-19 16:35:15

mavigogun
Member
From: Istanbul
Registered: 2009-04-22
Posts: 104

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

Go hard core - and loose the foam core.   Check out the cardboard surf decks:

http://www.sheldrake.net/cardboards/

As for glue, there is a super promising corn-based, thermo-set glue (thermoplastic aliphatic polyester derived from corn starch), called Polylactic-acid.   Check out the work of Pulplabs, where they are adding the stuff to pulp to make thermoformable (and highly water resistant) paper.  Perhaps you could thermoform a paper shell over a cardboard core!

http://www.sodrapulplabs.com/#/project/ … -research/

Last edited by mavigogun (2011-01-19 16:52:25)

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#10 2011-01-19 18:44:38

Jackie
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From: England
Registered: 2002-09-14
Posts: 359
Website

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

I would think twice before using Paverpol....see my waterproofing experiment: http://www.papiermache.co.uk/articles/w … ier-mache/

Namely, poor Mad Major who didn't last very long in action.


Jackie

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#11 2011-01-19 20:04:32

dopapier
Moderator
From: UK
Registered: 2004-12-04
Posts: 702

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

I would encourage everyone to have a look at the PulpLabs site recommended by Mavigogun.  Click on (for example) project one and then The Chair bubble to hear a most interesting description of the investigative process.
As far as the surfboard is concerned, it is worth bearing in mind that the construction of building board and boats in the 19th century relied on linseed oil, heat and pressure.  Interestingly, the production of the special paper in PulpLabs relies on 165ÂșC.


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#12 2011-05-06 04:59:46

dustinl
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Registered: 2011-05-06
Posts: 2
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Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

I am not sure i agree with this:

Could flour be made less hydroscopic by mixing in pva wood glue? I think the flour will be a disaster if water gets in.

I am planning to first use the board to surf the tidal bore on my local river which is fresh so salt water wont be a problem initially.

I have done some 2 foot square test laminations on a piece of polystyrene foam and tested their strength by hitting them with a hammer. All 20 layers of paper.

Newspaper and flour - strong but brittle - shatters when hit hard but can resist some gradual pressure.
Brown paper and pva glue - when hit very hard hammer bounces without any damage but prolonged pressure leaves a bit of a dent.
Alternate layers of brown paper and newsprint - not as brittle and seems more resistant.


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#13 2011-05-06 06:15:00

mavigogun
Member
From: Istanbul
Registered: 2009-04-22
Posts: 104

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

dustinl wrote:

Newspaper and flour - strong but brittle - shatters when hit hard but can resist some gradual pressure.

Are you boiling your flour paste?   Doing so radically changes its properties.   Using such, Mathue reports the opposite of your experience- an impact and shatter resistant composite.

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#14 2011-05-06 18:33:47

Pelletor
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From: East Coast USA (mid Atlantic)
Registered: 2009-08-05
Posts: 32
Website

Re: Papier Mache Surfboard

A most interesting topic.   I have had some limited experience making my own home made "composite" material using paste (both flour based and PVA based) with newspaper, old cotton T-shirt material, (my favorite) bed sheets and pillow cases that my wife is kind enough to save for me as they wear out. 

I have used them in combination with paper but not with each other.   I use cotton cloth when I need a light strong piece and I should say I have never made anything as big as an 8 foot long surfboard but smaller objects that fit in my hand.  I also made toadstool yard art that had been exposed outside to the elements for 3 of the 4 seasons going on the 3rd year. They are covered with 3 coats of Minwax Helmsmen Spar Urethane. The first coat went directly on to the finished but unpainted sculpt.  The remaining two coats went on last after the final painting was complete and dry.

I always mix in some acrylic paint in my paste and paper mache clay (used to replace some of the water) I read somewhere it adds water resistance to the mix and this has all worked well thus far.

I am always surprised at how strong and light these pieces are when made of the cotton cloth, paper strips and sometimes paper mache clay.  I have another thing I have not yet tried in my search for the "perfect" and even stronger home made composite and that is using fiberglass window screen mesh.   It comes in rolls like fabric, can be purchased in the large DIY stores and seems it could be used to make an exceptional composite material.  If anyone has used it or does try it I would very much like to know the results.

Bob C

Last edited by Pelletor (2011-05-06 18:36:09)

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