In my last post I included several photos that showed sculptures made with a paper mache clay skin over an armature created by a computer design program called Pepakura. I mentioned in the post that I would love to know more. Simon, the creator of the sculptures, was kind enough to write a very detailed explanation of how he uses paper mache clay with his models, and I was so impressed with his comments that I asked him if I could use them in a new post. He was kind enough to agree, so the following description is by our guest blogger, Simon Doyon.
Since he included a sentence written in French in one of his recent comments, I’m going to guess that Simon lives in France – I’m sure he’ll let us know if I guessed wrong… 🙂
I know many of us, especially those of a certain age like myself, have never even considered the idea of using a computer to help us create the armature for a paper mache sculpture, and much of this tutorial will be over our heads. However there are lots of folks out there who already know how use this design program to create 3D objects. Now, thanks to Simon, they’ll soon know how to make a hard, paint-able shell over their paper sculptures, and turn them into permanent works of art. (For the rest of us, there’s a lot of tutorials on YouTube that explain how to make the models with the Pepakura program).
And now – here’s Simon…
Hi Jonni, hi everyone!
I’m glad that you are interested in my computer assisted technique mixed with pm clay. I will assume here that you have a basic understanding of computer modeling.
First, you must have a 3D model that you want create in real life. I suggest that this model is under, let’s say, 400 polygons. You can modelized yourself or take a model already made. I prefer modeling myself because I can create it with the Pepakura part in mind.
Second, you need to unfold the model in a software called Pepakura Designer. Basically what this software allow you to unfold or decomposed your 3D model in 2D pieces with reference number.
Third, you have to print, cut and score your 2D pieces in sheet material, in this case cardboard. The more precision you can get on this part (and on the following part) the greater the final model will be.
Fourth, you have to put all the piece together in order to build the real life model. This can be hard and long process (2-5 hours depending pn the complexity of the cpu model).
Fifth. You must prepare the completed model to receive the Pm clay. Since there’s a lot of water in the clay, you have to waterproof the paper. I found out that you can do that even before you cut your pieces, just laminate the sheet of cardboard with clear box tape. But you can apply the clear box tape after building the model, just be careful to follow all the model’s details and grooves.
Finally, once the model is waterproofed, you can apply the pm clay with a wet knife. Since the cardboard model is a hollow shell, you will perhaps have to temporary fill the interior void with some kind of material to allow you to put some pressure on the shell without bumping/scraping/breaking it. I suggest expandable foam (apply it close to the shell, do not attempt to fill all the void with that, it’s kind of expensive). Let it dry for a couple of days and when the exterior is dry, you can remove all the paper and foam inside since the pm clay do not permanently stick to the box tape. With all the interior stuff removed, the sculpture will completely dry within a few more days.
It took me several months to discover and mastering this technique and it’s workflow. Yet there’s more to experiment. The pm clay recipe was the final touch on this and allow me to give strength and smooth on my sculpture with reasonably cost. Hope it will help you and give you some ideas. Just ask if you have any question.
I’m done (!).
Thanks, Simon! I can’t wait to see what sort of comments and questions we get for this post. By the way, we’ve received a lot of questions about making masks and helmets, and I usually refer them to an old post I wrote about making a ceremonial African mask over a cardboard armature. Simon’s idea of using plastic tape over the cardboard to keep the damp clay from getting the cardboard wet, (which could cause the piece to warp while drying), is an excellent idea to use even if you don’t make your model using a computer aided design program.