Papier Mache Finishing Techniques
Unpainted papier mache surface:
A paper mush made of printed or unprinted news print can be very effective just pressed onto the outer surface of a finished piece, allowed to dry, then sanded for a marbled, spalded look. Hand rub with a linseed oil or other wood finish product.
- Play Me - Life sized guitar body sculpture. Armature of cut-out recycled cardboard, unprinted newsprint papier mush coating, dried and sanded smooth. Hand rubbed with 6 coats of linseed oil to a marbled or spalded wood finish.
Sand or Soil/Clay Finish
Using weldbond or other clear/white exterior glue, layer on glue then sand/soil and/or clay, layer of glue etc. until you have about 3 layers. Let dry thoroughly and apply a protective matte finish. You can actually do designs with this technique.
- Butterfly Platter - Aprox 36 inches across, all of paper slabs, cut into four repeat pattern pieces, draped over a mould and papier mached with small strips together. The finish is approx 4 layers of sand painting, using crushed red sandstone and crushed soft turquoise, as well as naturally occuring white sand.
Metallic Faux Paint
Using acrylic metallic paints, apply several layers and shades. You can tint your metallics with coloured acrylic for better effect, giving it a patina finish. First layer is usually a flat black over all, or at least in the crevices! Last coat is a dry brush of the lightest metallic to give a glow. Try some antique patina looks with teal greens and blues, or oxide for rust, gun metal black for pewter, with a silver finish. I often use an automotive chrome paint for the final coat of a pewter or silver faux finish. Then coat with a satin or gloss clear top coat.
- Flamenco - At only 14 inches tall, my bronze foundry thought it was a cast bronze when I took it in for a mould estimate! It is printed newsprint papier mache with an aluminum foil armature. I shaped, dried, carved and shaped some more for the detail. The finish is acrylic metallics tinted with coloured metallics to highlight the colour for a natural patina look. Red to copper and bronze metallic for the male and hansa yellow to the gold in the womans dress.
I just use quality acrylic paints for this, painting a natural look or a fanciful design. Then finish coat as for metallic faux paint.
This can be done while a piece is still in its leather state, particularly when embedding handles or bases right into a bowl or shelf etc. When a piece is dry you can use papier mache twigs and clay to surround and build embedded pieces in to the sculpture/vessel. When embedding structurally I use slabs that are pre-built and then torn into strips to secure the piece to the sculpture/vessel.
- DreamWeavers - Structural wall hung shelf unit with embedded candle holders and a rock crystal. Sand painted finish of ground sandstone and metallic bronze faux paint. It is backed with felt and hangs like a painting. Make sure you attach a well secured thick slab or wood base for screwing into on the back. This shelf unit also has an embedded painting as its central focus. The painting was done on 300 # watercolor paper and a wall fixative type adhesive used to attach it. A frame of thin scrunched up slabs was used to build the raised frame which was made of layers of recycled cardboard glued to the original slab shelf unit after it dried.
Just remember that a dried piece of papier mache is actually a wood fibre product and can be treated similarly. Try wood stains, natural stains, burn it, carve it, chip it, drill it, cut it. Working in papier mache is almost endless!
You can also sculpt a solid piece, let it dry, build a mould and then press your paper pulp or slab into the mould for repetitive pieces.
And the one finish I have yet to learn (on this years list of things to do) Metal Fusion. I have seen, and am told that you can create your finished papier sculpture and then spray on a thin layer of (metal fusion) bronze, pewter etc. to create a finished metal sculpture. You then treat it like a real bronze/pewter piece with patina finish. You have way more control over your process than sending it off to the foundry and waiting months for completion and the added expense!
One last thought. The outdoor projects I have heard about used an automotive/industrial gloss spray on finish for the highest waterproofing sealcoat. It is my belief that no papier mache pieces should be subjected to constant imersion or standing in water, just because water has its way of finding the tiniest cracks. Also the silicon rubber masonry sealant added to all the adhesives helps a great deal, but mostly to the point of water resistance (run-off) and not water proofing.
- Corn Maiden - Life-sized chicken wire armature, corn kernel and husk mosaic, with crushed sandstone finish. She actually lifts off the box base, cement weighted for easy transport.
That's all folks.
If you have any questions for me please and I will answer as soon as I am able.
You can see more of my pieces at www.wendyharford.com/gallery