Head Materals

This is the place for Technical Tips, Questions and Answers.

Postby geoff.london » 02 Aug 2007, 12:14

If you are going to use papier mache for punch heads then there are two types: the pulp method and the layer method. I use the layer method where paper strips are pasted either over a modelled head or into a mould. One tip I had from a Guild member (I forget who) was to use brown paper, the sort used to wrap parcels. This can make a very strong head. If you are soaking the paper to make it more flexible, don't forget to make the paste thicker to counteract the water. I have found Lap paste to be good and it should be thick, not runny. Fred Tickner sometimes made a papier mache mask which he fitted over a wooden core. The heads I made of Blair, George Speaight and Guy Higgins were made this way.
I made some Punch figures in fibreglass but now I have come to the conclusion that wood is preferable. However, for young people, papier mache is a very good start and I prefer this for vent figures. Don't underestimate paper! Goodluck.
Geoff.
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Postby Tom » 17 Aug 2007, 19:12

Thak You Everyone for helping me out. See you on sunday Chris!






Thankyou again



Tom :D :) :x :evil: :twisted: :wink: :roll: :D
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Postby Chris » 17 Aug 2007, 22:55

Looking forward to seeing you Tom, and Mum and Dad of course. You had better bring them along.

Geoff, it may have been me who told you about Kraft paper (brown paper) for tough papie mache. It was taught to me in my teens by a guy in Bradford, Ron Warriner who greatly inspired me. He was brilliant with papie mache, and he also taught me the basics or carving.

At one time I used to use Butterfly Brand gummed tape - which was brown paper. The gum was useless, but the strips were a good (lazy) way of blocking in.

My violinist, and Shirley Bassey are largely made of Kraft paper.


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Postby geoff.london » 18 Aug 2007, 12:48

I use suger paper for the papier mache (layered process) on the vent heads. Bags of suger used to be made in this. Its thicker and more absorbent than normal paper. Scrapbooks are sometimes made in this. The fibres are looser and when wet, press into the mould more easily. Papier mache certainly works. They used to make furniture from it and even armour. In the antique trade its called 'japanning' after the idea that the technique was developed in the far east. Your violinist and Burly Shassie are still going strong and of course papier mache can cut down on the weight of large marionettes.
I hope Tom and his parents enjoy the trip. Visiting the Harlequin is alwasys worthwhile. Geoff.
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Postby Chris » 18 Aug 2007, 17:32

Kind words. Thanks Geoff.
I may be wrong, but I think you are mistaken about Japanning. I've always understood japanning to be another name for Japanese lacquer work - a decorative technique using layer upon layer of paint with sanding between each coat producing a glass-like finish and a coating thick enough to be carved into.

Such a finish might be applied to wood or indeed to papie mache objects.
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Postby geoff.london » 18 Aug 2007, 17:48

I thought I was straying into a dangerous area there. I may be wrong. but I think it was a layer of paper, glued, then lacquered, then another layer and so on. This made for a waterproof and very strong model. But I am going on memory here Chris, and as we know, its fallible.....
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Postby Chris » 18 Aug 2007, 18:21

I've since checked and no paper was involved.
As Asian and Indian lacquer work became popular in England, France, the Netherlands, and Spain in the 17th century the Europeans developed imitations that were effectively a different technique of lacquering. The European technique, which is used on furniture and other objects, uses varnishes that have a resin base similar to shellac. The technique, which became known as japanning, involves applying several coats of varnish which are each heat-dried and polished.


Eric had a couple of boxes which were very thick red lacquer which had been intricately incise carved. But these were the real thing as opposed to japanning which I understand to be the European adaptation of the true Japanese lacquer.
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Postby geoff.london » 18 Aug 2007, 19:04

I defer to you Chris, you have all the tools at your disposal.
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Postby Chris » 19 Aug 2007, 17:43

After that talk of Japanning there kept coming a snippet of music which seemed relevant. It was there at the back of my mind, but I couldn't quite bring it into focus. It was most frustrating. Then this morning I remembered.

In the sixties we did a puppet review "Highly Strung" at The Harlequin. In it was a parody based on Strawberry Fayre. It was a tale of unrequited love and the final verse contained the couplet:
She drank a tin of varnish, life to diminish.
She sure had a Japanese Finish!
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Postby Richard Coombs » 20 Aug 2007, 23:22

In my teens and early twenties , my P&J heads were made from the other papier mache method : where you soak a mix of newspaper , and egg boxes ( and or fruit trays ) add paste and whiting ( sometimes I used powdered polyfiller ) to make a soggy pulp.

This I moddelled in two stages ..doing 'cores' of neck and rough head-shapes over a rolled cardboard tube ( later removed for the finger hole in the neck) ...this was baked in my poor Mums oven ..although to be fair it didnt smell bad unless they burned.

Then the detalis of the face were moddled over the top of the core ...and it was all baked again.

After that I did three or four layers of newspaper and walpaper paste laminating mache over the top for extra strength.


There was a puppet making book in our local Library that had black and white plates showing this method ( it might have been Waldo Lanchester? ) ..the images showed the soggy 'cores' being pricked with a big needle , or length of wire , to help them dry right through quickly and evenly.

Up until last year I was using a Devil and a Policeman made this way ..now I have retired them , and am using new wooden ones.

The only survivor in my show currently is the Bishop ..whos head is 23 years old.

But I have already carved a wooden Bishop Head , and new 'praying hands' ...assembling him will be a Winter project ...probably Winter 2008 ...as it is the intricate costume that will be the time consuming part of Bishop 2 , and I have other plans already for this years workshop time :-))

But yes ..( back to topic Richard !) ...Paper Mache can be a great way to make heads fairly quickly...and heads that do last.
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Postby Richard Coombs » 31 Aug 2007, 12:34

And now ..a few weeks on from that last post I think I shall take my own advice.

There is a portrait head I would like to get made for the PJF bash on 30th September.

I dont really have time to make it ..but that always seems to be the way , hey ho!

It will have limited usage after that day , so in a way does not warrant spending the time carving in wood ( besides my carving skills altho fine for P & J figures , is not sophiticated enough for acurate portraiture )

Moddelling in clay and doing a vinamould mould , then a fibreglass head is my other usual route to achieve this sort of head ...but again I dont really have that sort of time .....

SO :

I am going to resort to the paper pulp modelling then the laminated paper over the top.

In a way it will be a nice revisiting of past methods , as I havnt done this for a good 23 years ( when I made my Bishop )

I cant start for a week or so , as I have rather a lot of acounts and bookwork to get through ...but it will prove a nice treat for the week after, and I am rather looking forward to it.

I will post a picture of the finished puppet after the PJF event ... this puppet is a secret that nobody knows about ... he he .... ( I do have another novelty figure to unveil the same day too , but that one has already been seen by a couple of profs on the quiet )

Best Wishes Richard
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Postby billywand » 31 Aug 2007, 20:56

Hi Richard,


Looking foreward to seeing you again in September, and seeing your new surprises.

Also, you very succinctly put a stop to the assasmant/standards thread well done.

When I said it was all a load of balls, I meant the argument, not the PJF just wanted to clear that up,so as not to upset anyone who may have mis-interpreted my post
Kind regards
Billy Wand

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Postby Nick Jackson » 31 Aug 2007, 22:05

billywand wrote:you very succinctly put a stop to the assasmant/standards thread well done.

Well, not quite.
All that happened was that the debate was narrowed to non-swazzlers not being able to become full members of the PJF. The question I raised – and would still love answered, except the thread is now locked – is why it can so be difficult for some of us swazzlers to get full membership. But I've been silenced on this one before.
And while this is not the place, I'd still love to know something of the criteria required to pass – at least then one could have something to work towards.
The constitution simply says:
3.3. Full Member - An Associate Member may apply for Full Member status if he or she performs a suitably skilled and entertaining performance using the traditional swazzle to a standard approved by the Committee.

Sadly, what those standards are appear not to be laid down.
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Postby Richard Coombs » 31 Aug 2007, 22:28

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ( heavy sigh )

Ive been spending some of the day browsing through both the PJF and the The College websites , as well as having a look in some corners of this site I havnt visited in a while. ( just one of those lazy days by the computor , as Ive been a bit exhausted by the last few whirlwind weeks, pleasant though they have been.)

And I came across this in the published Constitution of the College.
I think it is my favourite part of its raison-detre :

Article 6. In deference to Mr. Punch's joviality membership of the College shall not be open to anyone deemed in the eyes of its existing members to be "a miserable old git".

Just thought I would share......
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Postby billywand » 31 Aug 2007, 22:40

Sorry, Sorry, Sorry, Sorry,

I shouldn't have started
Kind regards
Billy Wand

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