Today we have a guest post by Mark Smith that comes just in time! Several people in the last few weeks have asked about making thin flowers and leaves out of paper mache clay. Now Mark Smith showa us a technique that will make that possible, and he makes it look easy!
Read through Mark’s article below, (be sure to watch the video, too), and then click on his name and check out the sculptures on his website.
If you try this technique, be sure to come back to this page (or the Daily Sculptors Page) and show it off.
How to Make Thin Sheets of Paper Mache Clay
©2017 Mark Smith
A little over two years ago, my wife found your site and suggested I look at it for use in a three-dimensional art class I was about to host weekly at the Central Outreach and Advocacy Center here in Atlanta, Ga. The Center is in downtown not too far from where I’ve lived for about 33 years.
Once the head of a college art department but most of my career a tradeshow exhibit builder and designer, a couple years ago I volunteered to conduct an art class for the homeless. I was asked to offer it because I’m a sculptor by training and would offer a different medium for the people who come to the center seeking job hunting training and help with their documentation for employment. Offering art classses was originated years ago by volunteers to give these folks something to do while they awaited their appointments.
Your clay recipe has been one of the mainstays of my Thursday class since day one. Over time though, I realized that I needed to accelerate the process as much as possible to provide a more immediate sense of accomplishment. We came up with using 2″ pvc pipe with fittings that allowed someone to roll out about a 3/16″ thick slab quickly with little experience. The problem there was that the clay would be pressed on the placemats we used and would become distorted as we tried by various methods to pick them off the mat.
What I want to give you, though, is a video of a discovery I just made connecting two widespread dots in my life.
Last year I learned how to make my own tortillas. I got the largest press I could find, had a lot of fun developing the feel and made the best tortillas ever as well. Just yesterday, it dawned on me that the method used in tortilla making was the exact process that could give us quick, super thin sheets of clay that weren’t stuck down to anything!
Thanks so much for your work. Your videos are among the best on the web. I’ve shown them in my class.
I tell people that I’m not really teaching (ie.lessons), just hosting and helping. Which is cool because I get more surprises that way!
I hope people find this useful. If you would like a printable plan for the cutting board press, click here.
Tip for Keeping Your Paper Mache Clay Fresh
Oh, one thing for those who prepare the recipe for teaching like I do. I’ve found that bleached flour (which I don’t normally use in our cooking) seems to reduce the tendency to mold and extends the life in the refrigerator for mixed clay. Also, I mix up and store a number of single unrefrigerated batches of the recipe without the flour and corn starch. Since I regularly need fresh clay for my classes, I can then only add the flour and corn starch right before a class with a lot less setup, mess and time.
Sculptures Made Using Thin Sheets of Paper Mache Clay
I also sent pics of some demos I made for how versatile and strong the clay sheets are. I’ve tried to accelerate all the clay prep methods so people can get right to making something in my class. We only have three hours and many guests are there only one time so I want to allow some kind of feeling of accomplishment and learning in only one sitting.
Be sure to take a look at Mark’s sculptures here: http://www.mlsmith.com/