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What was I thinking?!?!

#1 2011-07-08 19:44:59

cra-z art mama
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Registered: 2011-07-08
Posts: 16

What was I thinking?!?!

I really hope someone can help and answer a few questions about paper mache...

You see, somehow I am supposed to lead approximately 75 kids (ages 5-10) in a group lesson on Monday.  Our summer program art specialist quit yesterday and I know almost NOTHING about paper mache!!  My questions are as follows...

1) how much PM adhesive do I need, in order for 75 kids to each cover one 6" diameter balloon?

2) Can I MAKE a good (and very easy) non-toxic paper mache adhesive? (if so, what recipe do you recommend?)

3)If I make one, can it be mixed a couple days in advance and stored somehow?

4) is there something better than newspaper they should use for wrapping the balloons?

5) If they're wrapped on the 11th will they be dry and ready for painting by the 18th?

6) Is there anything I should know, to help make this go smoother?

I appreciate any and all advice or feedback, thanks.

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#2 2011-07-08 21:25:59

dopapier
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From: UK
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Posts: 702

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

It is not really too big a problem.
About the paste.  Normally I would say never use flour paste.  However, wallpaper paste normally has fungicide in it so best not to use it in this instance.  Specialist paste powder (carboxy methylated cellulose, or CMC to you) is not easy to find.
I suggest the (oh no, I'm not really saying this am I?) flour paste.  It is like making a white sauce but only with flour and water.  The boiling releases the starch, which is very sticky.  Yes, it can be made a few days beforehand.  Keep it in a fridge.
Newspaper is OK.  Probably they would be better using brown packaging paper if you have it, or white office paper or both.  Make sure they use pieces about 2cm x 4cm so they lie smoothly. 
It should all dry quite quickly as long as there is reasonably dry warm air around.
DavidO


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#3 2011-07-09 01:34:20

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

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

David is right, keep it simple.

Here's Jackie's recipe for paste: http://www.papiermache.co.uk/tutorials/ … ier-mache/

Use the one for the thinner paste. Doubling the amount will make about 2.5 quarts or litres.  If you think that won't be enough, X4 the original recipe.  You'll be in trouble if you don't make enough.  You can dump leftovers (garbage or compost pile).  One cup of flour makes a gallon, so it's cheap enough to make more than you need.  If you don't refrigerate it, it will start to mold.

Where Jackie says to keep stirring, KEEP STIRRING, or you'll get semi-cooked lumps (like in gravy).

All the kids with long hair need to tie it back before beginning.  And watch the boys, esp if they're near a girl with long hair. Trust me on this!

Plan ahead what smaller containers you're going to put the glue in, and how it's going to be applied.  Dip and squeeze, or brush it on?  Don't use any containers that have a smaller base than the top, they tip over too easily.

Newspaper is fine, these aren't going into a museum.  But if you want more rigid results, use the brown or white paper as David suggested.  But these things probably won't last a week, so keep the expense down.

Round things like balloons are easier to work on if you set them in a container, like a larger empty tin can.  Otherwise, they roll around while you're working on them, and the wet part (heaviest) always rolls to the bottom.

There is always a temptation to use large pieces of paper to get faster coverage.  Don't, as the lumps will multiply.

The balloons will dry more evenly if you hang them, so tie the necks with a length of string as soon as you blow them up.  I hope you've got help blowing them up, that's a lot of air.  If you've got some politicians handy, put them to work.

If you can string a clothesline rope across the room, you can hang them from that for drying.

If you have a bunch of old towels, wet them and wring them out for wiping hands, and place them around the room for easy access.  As the kids work, the glue will start to dry on their hands.  The easiest way to do this is to drop them into a washing machine and then spin the excess water out of them, put them in a plastic bag for transport.

If they're going to paint them when they're dry, practically any kind of paint works with flour adhesive:  tempera, acrylic, wall paint, etc.  Just make sure it's water-based, not oil-based.

Watch the boys!

If you volunteered for this emergency, you will probably have learned your lesson by the time you're finished! *big grin*

Sue

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#4 2011-07-09 09:22:27

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

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

For balloons easels, I use hoops made from cardboard, a bit smaller in circumference than the balloon and a bit more than half the balloon height; staple ends.   If you need to extend the project or stage groups, band stapling and decoration can be a separate project.   If you make the band to fit the head of the child, it may be worn as a crown, and then used to play games balancing the balloon in the top (playground obstacle course, relay, etc).

Your dates seem to indicate you will be working with the group twice in two weeks.  How much time do you anticipate for each session?   How much set up time will you be afforded before the sessions?

I found boys and girls to be equal opportunity destroyers- could be an expression of local culture, but I'd no sooner turn my back on little monsters of either gender...

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#5 2011-07-09 13:55:48

dopapier
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From: UK
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Posts: 702

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Sue said, "As the kids work, the glue will start to dry on their hands.  The easiest way to do this is to drop them into a washing machine" . . .she means the towels!! lol
One further tip.  Get them to use as little paste as absolutely necessary.  The paper only needs the thinnest coating.  They can dip their fingers in water as they work if things are getting too sticky.
About six layers of paper can be really strong.  Twelve will withstand a lot.  Make sure they are totally dry before popping the balloon, or even letting them deflate, otherwise they will pull the whole laminate in with them.
DavidO


I'm a PM addict

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#6 2011-07-09 18:41:15

cra-z art mama
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Registered: 2011-07-08
Posts: 16

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

hahahaha David... but what if I prefer the idea of dropping the children into the washer??  Really, I think I'd rather wrap them all in cellophane!  ...wait, that sounds wrong... I mean all but their faces!

But seriously, the wet towels tip is an awesome idea, as is having the long-haired girls tie it back. I wouldn't have thought of that so, THANK YOU Sue!  As for the paper, we have a ton of different kinds but, I think it might be easier for these kids if they can SEE their layers.  First day I'll set them up using newspaper, then during the second go around with the PM they can use white office paper.

Thank you all so much for the feedback! 

Sorry if I was unclear about the time table.  It was originally supposed to be a two week project, however, I just spoke to our program directors about extending it (because #1 the air is very humid here and #2 I've never done this before!).  The kids will now be working on it every Monday, 30-40 minutes at a time, over the next 4-5 weeks, or until they're done, whichever comes first.  Also, the children are divided into 3 groups of 25, NOT all 75 at once (thank heavens!).  However, there is some drawback to this - See, I actually have 4 groups to lead, but only 3 are doing PM. The eldest group will be working on something different and the schedule has them coming to me as group 2 of 4.  I already asked if this could be changed, but it can't.
Essentially, it means I'll have 45 minutes to set up for the first group, and then 5 minutes to break down & set up for another project, after which I'll have another 10 minutes to break down again and set up the PM materials a second time! 


Oh, and I have a new question. 

Since the ultimate goal is to make a piggy bank from the PM covered balloon, at what stage should they apply the ears, nose and legs? 

If they have to put the legs etc. on first, I'm done for... there's no way I can prep the materials in time and it's not something I can leave up to them.
From what I've seen, they can barely negotiate their way around a pair of scissors and a ruler.  As pathetic as this sounds, there is no chance they're capable of cutting a toilet paper tube into 4 equal sections to make legs.

This was my thought on a rough time table -  WEEK 1: 1-2 layers of PM, WEEK 2: apply ears nose etc. using a thick batch of Sculptamold to fill in the gaps around them, WEEK 3: 1-2 more layers of PM,  WEEK 4: paint your piggy, add wiggle eyes etc.

Does this sound at least somewhat reasonable, or am I about to step in a big pile of piggy poop? 

~Megan

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#7 2011-07-09 18:53:27

dopapier
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From: UK
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Posts: 702

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Nope, I think you'll be alright.  I like the bit about breakdown - "I'll have another 10 minutes to break down again".  You're probably right ha ha.
Legs etc.  Should be easy.  Can you get hold of egg boxes?  Preferably the paper composite type?  Wait till the basic balloon shape is dry, then cut out each piece of the egg box for legs and snout.  Don't use composite - it will take too long to dry.  If they laminate over the promontories (say four layers), it will hold them firmly in place.  Where you put the money slot, the layering needs to be quite firm (ten layers minimum?) and then sawn through with something like a serrated kitchen knife.
DavidO


I'm a PM addict

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#8 2011-07-09 20:28:45

cra-z art mama
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Registered: 2011-07-08
Posts: 16

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Oh no!  I just threw out probably 30 egg boxes that were left over from "the quitter's" first week!!  *Sigh* Oh well, I'll look at it as having a week to find some, instead of "oops just trashed something they could have used".

David, I have a hand held jig saw - would it be quicker/easier to cut the money slots with, or would I just end up ripping these things to shreds?

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#9 2011-07-09 21:06:34

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

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

A jig saw will be fine, providing you use a fine blade.  Drill a hole first that is large enough to take the blade.  Probably two holes would be a good idea, one for each end then jig the the slot between them.  This is presuming you have made the laminate strong enough in that area as I described above.  Otherwise, yes, it would tear.
DavidO


I'm a PM addict

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#10 2011-07-10 01:24:30

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

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

David is right on with the egg cartons.  And DO drill the holes first, before using the jig saw.

So, David... what gave you the impression that I meant to drop the TOWELS into the washer???  Sometimes I think you assume too much...

Sue

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#11 2011-07-10 07:39:20

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

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Given the assessment of scissor skills, you're dealing with 5-year-olds, < or >.   25 in one batch is huge.   Will you have assistance? -you'll need it.

Since you will be storing the work over several weeks, and need to redistribute, you will need to label the work- say, strings tied to the balloon stems with attached tags.   Once the shell is dry, you can use a paper punch to transfer the string to the shell.   If you pre-label the tags, you can remove that time from what you budget in class.   If you do it in-class, it may cost 10% of your class time (and the children's attention).   Of course, if they are able to write their names, make sure it is with a blunt instrument- or you may have to deal with popped balloons.

Drilling and cutting slots for 75 sounds like a nightmare; if the plan is to break the bank to remove the money, you won't have an access hole to support the work from when you drill and cut.   Consider taping a thin piece of foam/sponge to the balloons (broad masking tape sandwiching the foam): they can paper around/over it- then just cut it off with scissors, and you have a slot.

If you end up using paper tubes for the legs, consider pre-marking the cut lines- although, IF they are 5, the cutting task will likely be a frustrating failure; their level of coordination combined with those wretched little scissors and a couple layers of card stock is too formidable.

Make an example of each stage- it will help them, and allow you to see where they are likely to have difficulty.

Anyway- just my 2 lira worth....

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#12 2011-07-10 09:43:17

cra-z art mama
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Registered: 2011-07-08
Posts: 16

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

yes, I'll have help although, it's only two other staff members and they are really not all that helpful... however, they can handle labeling the balloons and dealing with any "unruly" participants.  I put out an email request to staff members for egg cartons and typed up a note to send home with the kids, requesting that their parents send some in.

As for the slots, I like the foam idea. If I cant manage to cut the foam bits in time for class on Monday, I might just try slicing them with an exacto blade once their finished.
I made my glue tonight... but I think it might be too thick.  Can I thin it out with water?

Again, thanks for all the advice on this stuff!

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#13 2011-07-10 13:12:02

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

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Yes, you can thin the paste with water, not too much though.  Aim for thick cream consistency.

Hey guys - Catperson, Mavigogun etc.  How about we all go over and help Megan.  Now THAT would be fun!!
DavidO


I'm a PM addict

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#14 2011-07-10 16:49:43

cra-z art mama
Member
Registered: 2011-07-08
Posts: 16

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

hahahaha... yes please, if ya book flights to Boston I'll send a car to pick you up at Logan airport on Monday morning lol!

Thanks again, this forum and it's members have been a real lifesaver!! 
Now, I'm off to play with my glue and try to mock up an example for the kiddos.

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#15 2011-07-12 02:18:33

cra-z art mama
Member
Registered: 2011-07-08
Posts: 16

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Well... I survived! 

lol, we have some very shabbily covered balloons and even more only partially covered, but I made it through the day and only have a slight headache.  smile

I wanted to thank everyone for their suggestions and advice - I never would have made it through this day without it!  That's one Monday down, only 4 more to go... I think I've earned a glass of wine!

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#16 2011-07-12 02:22:08

cra-z art mama
Member
Registered: 2011-07-08
Posts: 16

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

oh yes... I made up three gallons of the flour paste but only used two.  Will it keep (in the fridge of course) long enough to be used again next Monday?

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#17 2011-07-12 16:44:20

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

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Definitely
DavidO


I'm a PM addict

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#18 2011-07-12 17:52:56

The pinata pimp
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Registered: 2011-07-07
Posts: 3

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Just a quick word of warning; If the balloons don't have at least two layers of paper over them they might not stay in one piece if it pops. Hope it was good wine and that you've a spare bottle in for next monday!

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#19 2011-07-15 07:37:22

cra-z art mama
Member
Registered: 2011-07-08
Posts: 16

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

ugh... about 50% of the balloons deflated!  I had to scrap the piggies in favor of mask making instead.  I put in a rush order this morning for some 2D cardboard mask cut-outs, onto which the kids are going to build up paper mache facial contours.

I've also been playing around with the egg cartons that I had the children collect and bring in this week.  If I soak them in water, they become very squishy and workable. I think they'll be able to use them for 'puffing out' cheekbones etc.

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#20 2011-07-23 01:28:31

The pinata pimp
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Registered: 2011-07-07
Posts: 3

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Hope its going well. I guess its a bit to late to mention that the balloons cut in half make good masks! I like to bring matise into it and use collage when dealing with little ones, means they can bring in old sweetie wrappers and learn about how what we see is actually made up of lots of different colours. Small strips might be neater but the big ones are faster. You can scrunch up the newspaper to build up shape too, just keep adding a flat layer on top to keep the shape and hold it in place. Its maliable till it dries, I just use my fingers but clay/modelling tools work well too - as does pushing objects into it to make a shape. Its not as strong as paper pulp but its faster and easier for little ones to manipulate.  Hope that makes sense. Been in similar situations so I feel for you. X

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#21 2011-07-23 18:58:13

cra-z art mama
Member
Registered: 2011-07-08
Posts: 16

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Well, last week was spent preparing for our summer fundraiser so, their art class time was occupied with costuming and finishing the sets.  I wasn't able to work with the kids on their long term paper mache projects but, we'll begin them again this Monday.  Thanks for the tips pinata pimp - much appreciated!

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#22 2011-07-25 11:10:59

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

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

It sounds as though you tied the balloons with string.  If so, that would account for the deflation.  They must be tied on themselves by stretching the rubber at the neck.
Another thing you can do - though I wouldn't advise it with young children, is to half fill a balloon with water.  This makes it firmer and easier to handle when it is suspended from a hook or line.  It also changes the shape slightly, suitable for hot air balloons etc.
DavidO


I'm a PM addict

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#23 2011-07-26 04:47:31

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

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Rubber balloons deflate no matter how you tie them, but tying the neck in a knot makes it last the longest.

I wonder if they would last longer if you sprayed them with shellac or something?  Just an idle thought.

David, a friend of mine filled a latex glove with plaster and set it palm-up in a bowl to give a relatively natural curve to it.  When set, she drilled a hole through the palm and inserted a large nail.  When cured, she painted it flesh-colored and mounted it on a plaque for a friend, as a reminder not to test a nail gun with his hand in front of it... again.

Sue

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#24 2011-07-26 10:01:07

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

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

Ugh!!!!


I'm a PM addict

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#25 2011-07-30 20:47:20

The pinata pimp
Member
Registered: 2011-07-07
Posts: 3

Re: What was I thinking?!?!

If you blow balloons up to their full extent and then deflate them a little they also last longer. New balloons are better, if they've been on the shop shelves or in storage for years they're often past their best.

Good luck!

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