Remember the walrus I used as an experiment to see if you can use the paper mache clay in a mold? It took me a while to get this guy finished. (Arabian Oryx still isn’t done…) That’s the problem with my little experiments – once I know for sure the idea works, I get bored with the whole thing and I’m off to another project.
The clay mixture I used was slightly modified from the “regular” paper mache clay. However, the only difference is the substitution of glycerin for the linseed oil. I found that you can get a fairly decent impression with fewer voids with the glycerin than I got with my first tries using linseed oil. I gave Walrus a final coat of gesso, but I made sure it didn’t smooth out the slightly rough texture of the clay, which gives him a nice “organic” feel.
The tusks were added using a U-shaped piece of galvanized wire covered with aluminum foil and masking tape. They were firmly attached to the inside of the piece with more paper mache clay, and when they were well-attached I added the final coat of clay to the tusks. They were made nice and smooth with several coats of gesso. I didn’t paint the tusks, although I might go back and stain them with ivory-colored paint to make them look a bit more natural.
After seeing some of the wonderful paper mache masks that people are making, I can see some real commercial potential for using molds with the paper mache clay. You still have a hand-made, hand-painted product, but some of the time-consuming design work only needs to be done once. I think someone with a bit more entrepreneurial enthusiasm than I have could do well on Etsy or at next year’s art shows with this idea. If you try it, be sure to let us know how your own molded paper mache pieces turn out.