Perspectives of a Writer and Musician

Issues related to writing, publishing and playing jazz music: One man's muse.
by Al Stevens

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Location: Florida, United States

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Paper mache

I'm working on two replica projects. I had the original figures in my workshop last year and made rtv molds of the heads for owner insurance. The owners want copies, so I am casting shells.

The rotocaster approach won't work because neither mold is rotocaster-friendly. They are in two halves each, designed to be cast as front and back halves independently.

I would like to avoid the toxic chemicals associated with urethane and fiberglass. And I am alergic to MagicSculp and Epoxy Sculpt. So I decided to use paper mache.

I have some experience casting in paper mache. I built Renfield that way several years ago.

Rather than go through the tedious and messy paper strip and glue routine, I tried some of those products from the craft store that are supposed to be good substitutes. Forget it. The most promising such product was Paperclay. It must be good for something, but it is unsuitable for casting shells from molds. The medium shrinks as it sets up and pulls away from the mold and from itself. Also it is very expensive.

So, I reverted to the old tried and true method. Newspaper strips and a 50-50 mix of Elmer's white glue and water. Cheap, strong, lightweight. But time-consuming and messy.

A paper mache cast needs several layers. To make it easier to keep track of where I have applied strips in subsequent layers, I always alternated between black and white newsprint and the Sunday comics.

Guess what? Our prestigious local newspaper, Florida Today, does not have a Sunday comics section. A sign of the economy? Or the declining tastes of the current generation? Whatever. I used car advertisement pages instead which are plentiful and colorful.

But guess what? The news sections have lots of color pictures, too. Eye candy for that generation that needs instant gratification and can't be bothered to actually read words, I suppose. I had to use the financial section to get strips of paper that I could distinguish from the car ads.

My parents and grandparents used to grouse about the younger generation, my generation. They were wrong.

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