Quick release (when you need to make a lot of pieces in a short amount of time)
You will need:
- A big pot full of newspaper
- Water (as much as you can allowing for the newspaper)
- Sawdust (about the same amount as your pulp newspaper)
- 2 cups of white glue
- Hydro-Stone (half the amount of your pulp)
- 2 tablespoons of raw or boiled linseed oil
- Wallpaper paste
- 1 tablespoon bleach
Same procedure as above except for the Hydro-Stone... you must mix it in only when you are ready to pour your mix in the mould. This stuff hardens faster that plaster of paris! It's 10 times stronger and 5 times lighter. It will not make your piece dry and ready to be painted faster, but it will help to strenghten the piece you are working on and help "pop" out the piece from the mould in the minutes that follow the pouring in. This trick is mostly used when we have 20 heads of puppets to build in a series for a crowd scene or any other urgency of the sort.
Egg carton magic (the simplest recipe)
You will need:
- Egg cartons (shredded by hand preferably)
Shred the egg cartons and mix with water. Leave it sitting on the table overnight and whisk it up in the morning to make a pretty strong pulp. The carton is saturated with a binding agent (close to wax actually) so you don't need glue or anything else to make it stick - but you can always add chalk, glue and some wallpaper paste to make a stronger mix.
All these recipes (except for the Hydro-Stone one) can be put in sealed bags or containers in the refrigerator for later use. Check them from time to time - I never go past one week. Do not put these in the freezer. Deep cold renders the mix fragile and clods of water sometimes form in the mix so when the piece is dry the moisture is trapped and mushrooms sprout from it! Believe me, there's nothing worse than the smell of rotting paper!
I always use bleach in my mix, even if most of the wallpaper paste I use has agents in it to help prevent moulding as you can never be too sure.
Linseed oil helps to strenghten and you can always add more after the piece is dry. You will know when there is enough linseed oil on it when the paper stops drinking it up. Sometimes it takes up to 10 coats.
In my experience, ground chalk is the best filler there is for two major reasons: The first being that it's cheap and vermin proof, the second is that it binds very well with other agents.