We have a very interesting guest post today. Karen Musson is going to show us how she uses paper mache clay over spray foam. She’s using this method to restore the legs and arms on antique dolls, but I can imagine hundreds of different sculptures that could be made using her techniques. She also uses a product from Home Depot to make her doll’s arms so smooth. Read more below to see exactly how she does it:
Restoring Antique Dolls with Paper Mache Clay
I enjoy taking old things and making them like new again. One antique I have fun with is the composition doll. These dolls are made of saw dust and glue compressed in a mold resulting in a durable doll that out lived the love of a child. Composition dolls can be found in antique shops and bidding sites. These dolls have survived the years but show their age. Exposed to the elements, the composition deteriorates and fingers, toes and sometimes entire limbs fall apart.
Here is how I am going to do it………
Some hints before you start:
• The spray foam is nasty stuff. WEAR GLOVES.
• Have a can of Acetone near by. It is the only thing that will clean up spray foam. (Fingernail polish remover does not work)
• If you do not use the entire can of foam for your project, you must clean the nozzle and the tip on the can. Use pipe cleaners/chenille stems dipped in Acetone to clean them.
• I recently discovered if you spray the foam into a disposable container like a shoe box, the foam will dry with fewer holes. Fill the box half full and secure the lid.
• I like the Paper Mache Clay (recipe here) to be really creamy. I put the toilet paper in a blender with enough water to spin the mixture. Let it run for 5 mins.+. Strain the mixture and wring out the water until you have 110 oz. Put it a bowl and add the glue and dry wall compound. Using mixer beaters, blend together until creamy. Add the remaining ingredients. Store in a plastic bag and refrigerate over night.
• Sculpting the foam is very messy. It flies everywhere. Have a vacuum on stand-by. You’ll need it.
1. Make a paper pattern. (Click the images to see them in a larger size).
2. Spray some foam insulation on to some newspaper and let it dry. The amount should be equal to the length and width of each limb. Let it set for 24 hours – it takes that long for it to set up completely. It may look dry on the outside but it is still liquid on the inside. (TIP: half fill a cardboard box with foam and seal the box. Let dry. Cut away the box. The foam will have fewer air holes.)
3. Using the paper pattern and a large serrated kitchen knife, cut out the general shape of the limb. Just a note…this process is very messy. The foam is electrostatic and the shavings fly everywhere. Have a vacuum standing by.
4. The best knife to use for shaping the limbs is a tomato knife. It is a narrow knife with very small teeth. Carve the foam until you are satisfied with the shape. It will be rough with uneven edges.
5. Take a sanding block and sand the shape until it is nice and smooth. There will be holes. If they’re large, you can stuff some of the foam shavings in the holes.
6. Using a butter knife or other smooth tool, apply a very thin layer of Paper Mache Clay. Let it dry completely. (do not put your sculpture near a heat source to dry. The foam will expand and destroy all your work)
7. When everything is dry, add a second thin layer of Paper Mache Clay. Sculpt in the fingernails and toe nails at this time. Let dry
8. I like my sculpture to be as smooth as possible. I found this amazing product at Home Depot (the only store that carries it). It’s called Pro Finisher Wood Filler, water base, white oak. It’s the consistency of dry wall paste. Spread a coat on the entire sculpture and let it dry. Sand the sculpture smooth. You can use sand paper, a sanding block or a wet cloth. It fills in the imperfection and does not add much weight. I love this product.
9. Paint with acrylic paint. Brush blush on the knees, elbows, back of the hands and top of the feet.
Follow the same directions except push 20 gauge wire into each finger.
Note: I cut the fingers with scissors.
She’s all together again. Now all I have to do is dress her.
Feel free to ask question!