Some Advanced Papier Mache Ideas
Many beautiful shapes can be made in papier maché by a careful selection of the forms to be used as moulds.
Having tried a shallow saucer or bowl, select a deeper object. If nothing more suitable can be found, a vase can be utilised, provided the paper covering is not carried above the widest part.
In making a choice of object the only consideration which has to be attended to is whether the work can easily be removed from the mould. There are methods of making papier maché forms on apparently impossible shapes.
A form such as that can be covered right to the top of the vase, but to remove the work a clean cut must be made through the paper from the top down to the widest part, this provides for an opening to allow the wide portion of the mould to be pulled out. The cut must be done with a sharp knife, to give an even surface that can be coated with glue and put together again.
It is advisable to use tube glue, and in addition to gluing the edges, two or three pieces of thin paper should be pasted on each side of the crack. In this connexion, some means must be adopted for keeping the edges of the cut quite close until the glue is dry; this can be done with a bulldog clip or a clothes peg. If the top of the object has a considerable bend, it is better to make two or three cuts at regular intervals instead of the one cut mentioned above. Actually, so much work can be done without using a curved-in shape that it is very doubtful if it is worth while employing it, except in special circumstances.
Trays can be made by using cheap metal trays as moulds, selecting one with a simple slope or curve on the edge. On such objects the paper covering is placed on the inside, and if it is fairly large the thickness of the paper should be increased in.
The spill holder can be made on a tall vase, a glass tumbler, or on a wine bottle. Bottles are very useful things to employ, for the bottom sections are often very nicely proportioned. They are useful as moulds for cylinders, but sometimes there is considerable difficulty in removing the work from the mould.
The best way to remove the work is to get someone to hold the bottle, or whatever object it is, then place the palms of the hands round the work with a firm hold, and twist it about from left to right, at the same time trying to pull it off often as a last resort, a start can be made by placing a block of wood at the top edge of the work and giving it a smart tap or two with a hammer, then working along gradually. This may damage the edge and necessitate a lower cut when trimming it up; also there is a risk that the damage may go deeper — the hold of the paste between the layers may be loosened for some distance down.
Useful waste-paper baskets can be made on a bucket, working up the handle fastening. Enamel pails are the best as there is no prominent seam running down the side. Do not attempt to make the shape fit the rim at the bottom of the pail. First get a piece of wood equal in thickness to the depth inside the rim, cut the wood to fit the cavity, and wedge it in. The wood should be smooth on the underside, and rather more Vaseline than usual should be applied, especially if it is a soft wood, in order to allow for absorption.
It is quite an easy matter to make the bowl portion, but the lid calls for special methods. Obviously it is not possible to mould it upon a china lid having a knob handle, neither is it possible to work on the underside over a rim. The plain shape will have to be made first, on some suitable form such as a saucer. The knob can be made by shaping-the end of a small wooden rod either by turning or carving ; it is then sawn off and attached to the lid with a little glue and further secured by a small screw from underneath. The screw head should be countersunk and covered with a layer or two of paper. There is no need to cover the knot, as painting will give the same finish all over.
An alternative way of providing a handle is to use a large wooden bead. First plug up the hole in the head, then fill a small flat surface at one end of it, and fix as explained above. The rim can be made by using a piece of cane similar to that employed by basket makers for cane baskets. Use a small piece and rub a flat surface throughout the length. As cane is brittle when dry, give it a soaking in warm water for a minute or two ; then carefully bend it into the form of a ring, overlap the ends, and fit fairly loosely within the top of the bowl. Then cut off the surplus cane. The ring should be glued to the underside of the lid, using bulldog clips or clothes pegs to keep it in position until dry. Some pieces of paper can be pasted over the cane, when the clips are taken off, in order to fix it securely.
Rims may be made by building up a strip of papier mache on a cylinder of suitable size. One edge should be trimmed so that a ring of suitable depth can be cut off and fixed in the same way as the cane rim.
See also: Ultimate Papier Mache – Beginners Guide