Today we have a guest post from our friend Eileen Gallagher. We receive a lot of questions and comments about Paverpol here on the blog, and it’s one of the many things I’ve been wanting to try someday.
This looks like a lot of fun, and Eileen’s sculpture came out very nice. I love the layering of textures, and the bread in the basket …
Thanks for writing up this tutorial, Eileen!
Older Woman on Market Day, Made with Paverpol
©2016 Eileen Gallagher
Hi Everyone! Recently, I have tried a different product, it is a fabric stiffener called Paverpol. I have always loved the way fabric drapes and folds and wanted to try Paverpol along with a paper mache sculpture.
I purchased it off of Dick Blick’s online art supply store. It is a bit pricey so wait until you can get a discount. Paverpol does waterproof the fabrics and the sculpture. But, from my research I think one would have to add another substance called Paverplast to the Paverpol and apply in numerous layers to truly have it become waterproof.
Paverpol acts as a glue as well and sticks to itself when wet. Also, I have only done 2 Paverpol sculptures and with each one I have learned a lot. I do not claim to be a expert on Paverpol- they actually hold certified courses on how to become a Paverpol instructor. Perhaps one day…
Armature – same as for any paper mache sculpture… wire, paper, cardboard, masking tape, etc. You will need a base and a dowel is helpful to keep it sturdy.
Sculpture – Jonni’s smooth air dry clay, watery glue, strips of fabric in varying textures (stretchy cotton works best for the draping effect- old t-shirts are great)
Painting – Paverpol, paint brushes, plastic knife for stirring, kitchen skewer to adjust draping, bits of cotton thread, acrylic paints
***very helpful to have a smock, plastic to cover your work area, cheap plastic gloves and paper towels It is a very messy medium and it will stain clothing, rugs, etc.
Paverpol lends itself to figurative work since you are draping fabrics. So, I am doing a figure of an older woman on market day. She is about a foot tall, 13 ½ “ with the base.
Step 1 – make an armature out of wire, tin foil, base, dowel and masking tape. Do it just like you do an armature for a paper mache sculpture. This lady’s skirt will be covering her legs so I opted to exclude legs. I used a dowel glued into a small wood round cut from a branch. I will not go over how to do the armature as most of you already know what to do from visiting Jonni’s site. I made the basket and cane separately. The basket is made of cardboard (details to be added later) , the cane is wire covered with masking tape.
Step 2 – Add the paper mache clay as you would on any other paper mache sculpture. For this one, I did not want a detailed face, just a suggestion of a face, but you can add as much or as little detail as you want. I did the head, face, neck and hands with Jonni’s smooth air dry clay. It looks rather like a alien at this point, we will see. I added newspaper strips and paste to the cane and let dry. The basket was done with the Paverpol and thin strips of fabric wrapped around the basket to look like a weaved basket. Paverpol also has an adhesive in it so it will stick to anything but plastic.
I painted the cardboard armature, then dipped the thin strips or fabric into the Paverpol and wrapped them around the basket and the handle to achieve a weaved basket effect. This was different and fun to do.
Step 3 – After everything was dry, I sanded a bit on the face, hands, and cane. Then, I “gessoed” it to help seal those areas. Now it was time to start adding the strips of cloth dipped in Paverpol.
First you need to thoroughly stir the paverpol with a plastic knife. Using gloves (not imperative but it does make for easier cleanup), I dipped one precut piece of cloth into the Paverpol and made sure it was totally covered in the stuff. You don’t want it to be sloppy wet, just enough to have no white spots of fabric. The t-shirt fabric gets stretchy when wet which becomes helpful when you are draping and pulling it into the shape that you want.
I first covered the shoulders, arms, torso, hips and down the dowel to give it strength. This was not going to be seen when the piece was finished but added a layer to stiffen it-when dry it would become quite stiff and sturdy. Paverpol is fairly forgiving in the amount of time it takes to dry- if it is getting tacky and difficult to handle, just put some more Paverpol on the fabric and it gets less tacky. The gloves do tend to get tacky as the stuff dries, so have a few pairs of cheap dollar store disposable gloves on hand. You can use bare hands, when it dries on your hands, you can just peel it off but it is hard to get your hands totally clean.
When I finished the first layer of cloth, I used a cheap paint brush to paint the head, face, and hands with the Paverpol. Then left it overnight to dry.
***Note about Paverpol and your drainage pipes- it says right on the container that Paverpol should not be poured down the drain as it is designed to stick on anything but plastic. So, have a paper bowl with water to clean your brush and hands and throw the water and sediment out into the garden. If it is dried and peeled off, it will not hurt your pipes. Also, since it is an air dry substance, you need to cover the tub back up when not using it or it will harden in the tub.
Step 4 – next, I made some small loaves of bread, apples, oranges, a bottle of wine, etc to put in the basket. This was done with the air dry clay and left to dry. I then made a wig of sorts out of thin cotton thread that one might use for crochet projects.
Step 5 – let the fun begin! Now I added the clothes. Using various lengths of cloth, I fashioned the top and then the skirt. This should be planned out before you go dipping the cloth into the Paverpol. You will need to have your cloth ready so that you don’t have to pick up a pair of scissors while your hands are covered in Paverpol. First, use a paintbrush to wet the area with Paverpol. Wet the fabric and drape it so it is falling in the way that you want it to fall. Use a skewer to help push and pull it the way you want. Bits of plastic wrap can be used to keep the fabric in place if needed. After she was “dressed”, I added the hair and hat. The rest of the body was dry enough to handle by the time I had finished the hat.
Step 6 – do your finishing touches. I added a shawl made from some stockingette that is offered by the Paverpol co. This was just to have a different texture for the shawl. I then added the market day items to the basket by painting them and the inside of the basket with the Paverpol. The face and hands needed several coats of Paverpol to get a uniform color. I then put the basket on her arm and the cane in her hand using Paverpol as the glue. I painted the base as well. Lastly, I wanted this bronze lady to have a patina so I mixed acrylic paints to the desired color and drybrushed the piece with the paint to achieve the desired effect. Done!
Her face is still a bit alien like but the rest of the piece turned out just how I wanted it. I hope you try Paverpol sometime, if you have any questions, I can try and answer them. It was fun to experiment with this medium and it really does dry very hard and stiff. Oh- one last thing- it takes about 2 weeks for a Paverpol sculpture to really cure.