Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Friday Art-Papier Mache'

Daughter W's art class last Friday was all about stained glass and symmetry, as her teacher takes them through history with art.

My two classes worked on papier-mache'. I have been looking for a papier-mache' project that was do-able in a group in a short period of time. These little heart boxes from fit the bill. We will finish them up next week.
Papier-mache' is French for "chewed paper". It is durable, inexpensive and readily avaliable. It has historically been used worldwide. Interesting historical uses include faux wood panels for coach doors, panels and structures, furniture, armour, shields, firearms manufacture and even as lightweight, disposable, auxillary fuel tanks for WW II airplanes. It is used today for decorative items, pinatas, baskets, trays, sculpture, masks, on movie and play sets and for parade floats. Dry mache' can be cut, sanded, and painted.

You will need:
paper, torn into strips
glue made from water and flour (mix flour with cold water until like thin cream)
clay to make a form
plastic wrap
waxed paper or plastic disposable plates-to work on

Each student had a plastic plate, clay, paper towel, copy paper and a square of plastic wrap. We put a large piece of paper under each student's supplies to contain flour paste drips. The students formed the clay into a fat heart. (Make sure it is thick enough that it can be cut in half horizontally to make a top and bottom. If students make a flat heart, the heart can remain unopened after covering with papier mache' and painted as a paper weight.) Wrap each clay heart in plastic wrap. Trim and tape if necessary to make it smooth.

If you use two different types of paper-one for each layer-it is easier to be sure that each heart is covered with two layers. We used paper towel and copy paper. Newspaper is commonly used for papier-mache', but unpatterned paper is easier to cover when painting. I mixed up larger batches of flour glue and used plastic lids to put glue into for each student to work from. Tear strips of paper before dipping pieces into glue and smoothing between fingers to remove most of the glue before wrapping clay form with glued strips. Wet rags on each table help with messy fingers.

After gluing and layering two layers of paper all over each heart, let dry, turning hearts occasionally for even drying. When fully dry after 24 hours or so, cut along edges with a knife to make a top and bottom. (Adult job.) Remove clay. Paint inside and outside.

For more detailed directions and how to mix the flour glue, there are many books and sites with instructions for papier-mache'. My favorite book on this subject is Papier-Mache' for Kids by Sheila McGraw.

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