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Newbie questions re. making a mannequin head :-)

#1 2011-03-10 14:35:01

RubyLarkspur
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From: Devon, UK
Registered: 2011-03-10
Posts: 3
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Newbie questions re. making a mannequin head :-)

Hello there,

I would like to have a go at making a mannequin head, to display vintage hats, and I have a few questions!  I have *never* used papier mache before, but it seems like a good bet for making something like this.

My thought is that I could get hold of a styrofoam/polystyrene wig stand to use as a base, and cover it with a thinnish layer of pulp-based papier mache, OR something like Celluclay, Paperclay, or similar ready-formulated stuff.

What do you think would be my best option - bearing in mind that I'm a total beginner?!  Given my inexperience I'm not necessarily looking to incorporate really fine detail (it'll be pretty stylised and follow the contours of the base for the most part) but I want to end up with a really good smooth finish for painting (probably with acrylics).

Secondly, depending on what materials I use, should I cover the styrofoam head with something first?  PVA glue?  Something else??

Hope you can help - thank you very much in advance! :-)

Last edited by RubyLarkspur (2011-03-10 14:35:18)

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#2 2011-03-10 17:04:04

dopapier
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From: UK
Registered: 2004-12-04
Posts: 754

Re: Newbie questions re. making a mannequin head :-)

Yes, you should cover the styrofoam first.  You could paint it over with PVA but another method is to use masking tape, kept very smooth and only the best quality.
I would suggest not using pulp but laminating paper.  This way you can follow the contours very closely and have a surface that you can smooth with fine sandpaper.  Look through the articles on this site or get a book from the library to help you.  Look at the article 'What Paste to Use' and don't use boiled flour paste whatever you do.


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#3 2011-03-11 15:30:27

RubyLarkspur
Member
From: Devon, UK
Registered: 2011-03-10
Posts: 3
Website

Re: Newbie questions re. making a mannequin head :-)

Thanks for the advice - I'll give it a go! :-)

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#4 2011-03-11 21:45:48

CatPerson
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From: Washington State, U.S.A.
Registered: 2006-01-09
Posts: 1314

Re: Newbie questions re. making a mannequin head :-)

One mistake beginners frequently make is to focus on applying the layers without taking the time to firmly smooth down each strip.

I can't emphasize enough the importance of this.  Lay a strip down, smooth firmly with your fingers, then use the top of your fingernail or the back of the bowl of a spoon, and burnish down any fold or ridge.  Only then should you apply your next strip.

If you rush through the job and leave the ridges and folds sticking up, they're going to make lumps, and applying more strips over them isn't going to help much. 

When the whole thing is dry, you will have a lumpy project.  Then you will have to sand it down until it's smooth.  Wait until you have to do it -- you won't realize how time-consuming it is!

Sue

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#5 2011-03-13 12:13:50

RubyLarkspur
Member
From: Devon, UK
Registered: 2011-03-10
Posts: 3
Website

Re: Newbie questions re. making a mannequin head :-)

Those are great tips, thank you Sue! I definitely want to take my time with it and learn as much as I can as I go along (I'm sure there'll be mistakes but they can be very instructive sometimes! >_<).

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#6 2011-03-14 02:09:54

CatPerson
Moderator
From: Washington State, U.S.A.
Registered: 2006-01-09
Posts: 1314

Re: Newbie questions re. making a mannequin head :-)

Yes, nothing teaches the little ins and outs like actually doing it.

Sue

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