Papié Maché

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Papié Maché

Postby Chris » 25 Feb 2011, 22:43

Someone on the Guild website has asked about Papié Maché and I gave my own method. I thought this might also be of interest to some on here therefore:

There are very many methods of using papié maché, either layers method or pulp method. Using pulp you can either model directly, or press the pulp in a mould made from a clay original.

Anyway, assuming that you want to model directly using the pulp as a modelling clay which will eventually harden. Here is my method:

I start off my tearing newspapers into pieces about half the size of a playing card. I fill a bucket with these. I then pour on boiling water to cover and allow to soak until water is cool.

I then take a piece of broom handle about a foot long around which I am going to make some light weight armatures. I take a couple of handfuls of the sodden paper and squeeze it tightly around the end of the stick, moulding it to form a rough headshape, about the size of the finished head. add more paper to bulk out to size. Squeeze to get as much water out as possible and to compact the paper ball.

Carefully remove the stick from the neck hole and lay the paper head aside to dry out in a warm place. It needs many hours to get thoroughly dry. I make a number of these armatures at a time. They will last indefinitely.

Since these are only armatures they need not be super smooth and therefore the papié maché can be quite rough. Also no adhesive is required, there is enough starch in the paper to make the layers adhere.

The next stage is to make a fine modelling clay from papié maché to model the shell of the head and face over the lightweight armature.

Start with the same pulp we used originally, but now this must be stirred, and pummelled, and squeezed and rubbed between the hands until the mixture resembles grey porridge. Then all the water must be squeezed out - first by hand, then through muslin, until we are left with a damp pile of grey currant sized (or smaller) bits.

We now mix this with an adhesive paste - I use hot flour and water paste. I stir this in to the damp pulp until it is the consistency of very very sticky placticine. Do not get it too sloppy. I also work in a few drops of oil of cloves which allows me to keep the mixture a few days without going rancid. I now work into the sticky mess enough Whiting to absorb the stickiness until the mixture achieves the consistency of softened plasticine.

We don't want to add too much Whiting because it adds weight and reduces the strength of the mixture, but it does make for a lovely smooth finish.

We then cover one of the dried armatures with a layer of the fine modelling mixture, and sculpt our head. I use the back of a teaspoon as a modelling tool. The surface can be smoothed, as you progress, with water.

When complete the head is set aside to dry, with the stick inserted back in the neck hole so that the head can be supported upright.

When thoroughly dry the head can be given a single layer of white tissue paper pieces which does protect the head against chipping. Of course oil paints or acrylics also strengthen the surface. I have heads made in this way which have lasted well over 50 years and are still undamaged.
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby Miraiker » 26 Feb 2011, 17:37

Thanks for this posting Chris.
I am eager to try this out for some new Greek myth monsters for schools.
Papié maché means the weight is more manageable for children to use.
Please tell me about Whiting. I understand it to be a ground chalk mix but the assistant in my local art supplies shop looks blankly at me. Do you make it up yourself?
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby Chris » 26 Feb 2011, 21:53

Whiting is the stuff that makes whitewash white. Whitewash is a mixture of lime, whiting and size. It was a early form of wall paint prior to Distemper, and then the later Emulsion paints. You used to be able to get it from any corner ironmongers but now you probably have to go to a builders' supply firm or maybe an artists' colourman.

It is basically powered chalk.

You could probably substitute the much more expensive gesso powder from artist's supply houses.

Maybe try a Google search.
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby Chris » 26 Feb 2011, 22:04

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Re: Papié Maché

Postby Chris » 26 Feb 2011, 22:10

I've just remembered that Gesso Powder includes French Chalk, a slightly different thing but I am sure it would work. French chalk is used as a lubricant and may be more easily obtainable. By the way Les (Properpunch) asked the same question about whiting many moons ago. Perhaps he found a source?
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby Chris » 26 Feb 2011, 22:34

These heads were made by this method.

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Re: Papié Maché

Postby johnstoate » 27 Feb 2011, 02:31

I find that china clay does the same job as whiting (Which is also one of the names used for white lead, which used to be used as a colourant in paint and a thickener in putty :roll: ) This is used in a variety of industrial processes, and I find that most firms that use it will sell you a small quantity for legitimate purposes if you ask nicely!! ( Try carpet manufacturers or chemical companies) It's also a good 'stiffener' for latex.
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby Chris » 27 Feb 2011, 22:25

Why John would think China Clay a substitute for whiting I have no idea. And I'd love to know his source for saying whiting was a name for white lead. Anyway please ignore his suggestion that you use this.
White lead is the chemical compound (PbCO3)2·Pb(OH)2.[1] It was formerly used as an ingredient for lead paint and a cosmetic called Venetian Ceruse, because its opaque quality made it a good pigment. However, it tended to cause lead poisoning, and its use has been banned in most countries.

Believe me, I have a great deal of experience with papié maché which John has not and I am quite sure that neither china clay (kaolin) nor white lead have anything to contribute to my method of papié maché use.
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby James » 28 Feb 2011, 00:05

Lead poisoning? Careful Chris, I think John is trying to bump you off! ;)
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby Chris » 28 Feb 2011, 11:38

Either that or induce constipation - china clay is a classic antidote to diarrhoea.
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby johnstoate » 28 Feb 2011, 20:28

Ascerbic as ever eh, Chris? - And I certainly DID NOT suggest the use of white lead, Quite the reverse in fact. As for the china clay- It will do a similar job, was all I said. It is of a similar chemical composition, and used as a filler in a large number of industrial processes. It is also an excellent stiffener for latex, although I note that you didn't comment on that..... Insufficient experience perhaps?
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby lesclarke » 28 Feb 2011, 20:52

Personally, I don't think John is trying to 'bump you off' Chris.
More likely he is trying to 'wear you down.'
As if I haven't got enough to do today, with all I've got to do today.
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby Chris » 28 Feb 2011, 23:39

To John:
No it will not do a similar job. By what right should you think you can helpfully suggest substitutes for my recipe when you've never even tried the original.
Of course I didn't comment on your claim that it was a filler for latex, why should I? What has that to do with anything? I have no interest in using latex. But it does seem that whatever material we are discussing it is in your mind a filler for latex. When we discussed plastic wood wasn't sawdust a filler for latex?

What irks me somewhat is that I take a lot of time in describing in detail a personal method I have used and developed over 50 years and you have to shove your oar in. I don't know if you've ever actually made a puppet John, but I've spent a lifetime at it. Allow me to know best about my own methods.

But of course if you want to detail your own particular methods of papié maché work using china clay then that's another matter altogether. By all means describe away. I'm sure many will be interested. Perhaps you can illustrate it with some of your work?

To Les:
You could be right. However though I'm not a Celtic supporter I do espouse their motto "Nil Desperandum Illegitimi Carborundum"
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby Chris » 01 Mar 2011, 00:20

By the way in view of the apparent meaning of Ascerbic being:
To acknowledge or embrace the need to do something to great excess, all the time, thereby spreading exuberant joy to the masses
according to the Urban Dictionary

I can only thank John for the compliment. It would be churlish to correct him yet again by suggesting that he actually meant acerbic.
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Re: Papié Maché

Postby johnstoate » 01 Mar 2011, 15:49

:D I will leave the interpretation of my meaning to our readers Chris :wink: - In response to your other comments, This is the 'workshop' section, and any regular reader should be aware that I always at least attempt to make honest and usefull comments only on here, there is the 'chat' section for the usual bear-baiting and mischief-making. In this instance my intention was merely to suggest an alternative material that I have used myself since Miraiker seemed to be having difficulty sourcing whiting- You know perfectly well that I make puppets, (And before you start, Yes, I have, in the past repaired a couple :oops: ) and to give a warning with regard to the possibility of confusing whiting with white lead. I will grant that on re-reading my post it is not perhaps, as clear as I would have liked, but I don't have the capability to insert posts retrospectively. As for pictorials of My methods, I do have some, most recently done with regard to latex moulding, but still can't use pictures on this machine, I might just try and borrow one to sort things in this regard. Co-incidentally, I grew up around whitewash, we used gallons of it on the farm, and never used any pigment to make it white, The lime does that job, we did use Yellow ochre and 'bag blue' but the basic recipe was always putty lime, water, animal glue, (As a binder) and 'Isal' disinfectant. (Although for heavy wear areas like milking stalls we would add a little Portland cement) My intention was certainly not to in any way critisise your excellent method of construction. Now can that be an end?? -ps; Happy St. David's Day,You being in Wales!
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