Today we have a guest post from Carolyn of St. Croix. She shows us some small sculptures she makes with an adapted version of my air dry clay recipe, and discusses some problems that are unique to paper mache artists who work in humid climates. She also shows us how she makes her delightful paper mache fish, using balloons. Thanks for the post, Carolyn!
By the way, the beautiful photo at the top of the blog is of Frederiksted, St. Croix, US Virgin Islands. Amazing …
©2016 Carolyn of St. Croix
My first professional experience with papier mâché came in college where I learned the art of making molds and applying shredded paper paste to create forms. Before that, I was used to making balloon “armatures” and using them as pinatas, etc. Nonetheless, I became enthralled with the many aspects of fiber usage and never thought I would turn this knowledge into a profitable hobby/venture today.
Here in the Caribbean, the sun seems to shine brighter and even hotter than before when I was young. It is the perfect setting for all kind of solar energy pursuits and of course the less costliest and most efficient way of drying or preserving my papier mâché artworks. I am also an art teacher in a public school and offer afterschool and summer camp sessions where I teach alot about making recyclable items using different types of paper pasting methods.
We do a lot of environment and gardening activities so the making of paper pots or garden art fits in well with our Garden School theme (the name of our non profit organization school).
I have been actively making our locally infamous Caribbean cultural icon , a Moko Jumbie ornament, since 1989. Immediately after Hurricane Hugo hit the islands that year, our electricity was out for a long time. During times like that there is a lot of time to live and act more « down to earth » and my creative juices flowed like a river. I utilized my skills to create my first free hanging ornaments using crotchet and hand sewing techniquies. I felt the « spirit » so to speak of Moko Jumbie throughout the land….Good over Evil….making my artwork help me to remain focused and calm while rebuilding our home.
Later on I sculpted clay and created cast plaster molds that I still use today to apply the wonderful Smooth-On recipes and more that I learned about and practiced from the UltimatePaperMache website.
Jonni Good has created the perfect platform for users of this art medium and helped me immensely over the years with solving questions, getting useful tips and so much more. I was grateful and enthused to write this article to show what I have done and involve other paper artists to respond and share with me some tips I can use to enhance my artwork further.
For example, her air-dry clay recipe that contains flour and cornstarch came out great for creating my Mokos in molds.
The disaster came after the shoppe I consigned them to called me one day to inform me that ‘something’ was eating my pieces. Ugh !!
I went on Jonni’s blog and found others who had somewhat similar experiences and helped me come up with a solution to the dilemma. Outside of some reader suggested additives that I could have used, Jonni suggested a different mixture and measurement of glue and joint compound mixed with shredded paper which works out perfectly for my needs.
My new project is to create ‘twirling’ tropical fish.
I use balloons as my base and apply the standard paste prepared newspaper strips, but I would like to achieve a smooth ceramic-like finish to it before letting it completely dry in the sun. I found that two layers of newspaper is sufficient to keep the shape and that if I let those two dry out and try to add a next layer the following day, the form collapses and ruins the roundness of the piece ! So I am going to experiment with a gooier, slip-like mixture that can adequately smooth the rough edges before it dries completely without collapsing or bursting the balloon. I just need a good (bug free – lol) recipe to do this .