My too-large herd of baby chicks actually taught me something I could use for my paper mache projects. OK, they didn’t “teach” me, exactly, but I did learn it because of them.
You might recall that I previously mentioned, in the post about my paper mache baby chick, that I received more birds from the hatchery than I ordered. That has caused some frustration and a few dilemmas here at my house in the last two weeks. So far, my efforts to find local homes for the extra birds have not been successful, so all ten birds were quickly outgrowing a brooder made for three.
Since my tiny new chicken house would be way too drafty for baby birds, and because I’ve managed to talk myself into keeping a few of the extras, (my neighbor suggested it, surprisingly), I decided to block off an area in the garage for the chicks. (Now I have a cute A-frame building that is too small for the number of birds I’m keeping — maybe a rabbit would like to live there? The slippery slope towards batty old-ladyhood has begun. At least I haven’t taken in all the town’s stray cats – yet…)
OK, on with the actual paper mache part of this story:
I went to the local farm store to buy some chicken wire. I needed a roll four feet wide, and all they had available in that size was vinyl coated, so that’s what I bought. I worked with the wire almost all day yesterday, trying very hard to get the project finished so the chicks could be moved into their bigger quarters and, incidentally, out of my kitchen. When the project was all done I noticed something unexpected — I wasn’t bleeding.
I know lots of people like to use chicken wire to make armatures for their paper mache sculptures, but I’ve never liked using it because I inevitably end up poked full of holes. I’ve just come to expect that any project involving chicken wire will also involve a box of Band-AidsÂ®.
I have no idea why the vinyl-coated wire didn’t lacerate my arms and hands the way the naked wire does. There are just as many cut ends and sharp little wires as there would be with regular wire — but no blood.
So — now that I know that the vinyl-coated wire is less aggressive, I can actually think about using it for a sculpture. That would mean taking another trip to the farm store, of course, but I seem to be visiting them a lot lately. I’m thinking that a saddle-billed stork would be nice in the new garden – they’re 5-feet tall, so it will be a challenge to balance it. Maybe the legs could simply be made longer and without PM on the lower section, and then they could be pushed into the ground. The body, neck, head and beak could be made with the chicken wire and covered with masking tape, then paper mache clay. Then the piece would be waterproofed with marine (spar) varnish, to protect it from the elements.
— The paper mache clay tortoise is still doing well outside, by the way. The experiment in waterproofing paper mache with marine varnish seems to be working. I don’t move him when I turn on the sprinkler, and he stays outside when it rains. So far, there’s no sign of mold.