Thursday, February 10, 2011

Day 52

Here begins a behind the scenes look at the making of a papier mache poppet sculpture. This is what I did to get started:
Photo 01: I have a left over holiday gift box. Any light cardboard will do. Cookie and cereal boxes are the right weight. Wide tape (masking tape is good too) scissors and a roll of bailing wire that can be found at any hardware store.

Photo 02: I open the box and trim it to make neat squares, saving the edges for later.

Photo 03:I roll the first rectangle into roughly a cone, which works well for Poppets. Secured with tape.

Photo 04: I've used the edges to shape the characteristic sharp crease of the poppet's robe and used other strips of edge to reinforce the bottom. I've folded the edges to make it sit flat.

Photo 05: This face is cast in resin from a mold of an original sculpted face. I could also choose to make a new face from clay, or create one from paper mache later.

Photo 06: I'll need to secure the face to the body, so I use a length of bailing wire bent so that the curve fits into the hollow back of the face.

Photo 07: I secure the wire by mixing 2 part casting resin without any sort of filler (e.g. marble chips)

Photo 08: When the resin cures, it becomes opaque.

Photo 09: I use the wire to secure the face to the body shape. The inch or so of wire will serve as a neck armature that I can bend once I decide the figure's expression. I've also attached wire for the arms.
This is a step where a few decisions have to be made. For instance, if the figure will be holding something (like a balloon) this is where the armature for that must be completed.
I'm not planning anything long or large here, but I leave a few extra inches at the ends of the arms so that I have the option later.
This part was learned by trial and error, mostly error, with cussing.
Photo 10: I plan for this particular figure to have branches for 'hair.' It will be a Spring piece and I want five major branches. I know this because of past experience. I also know that if I make five major branches, I can twist and add other smaller branches from these if I want to. Or not, if I don't.

Photo 11: Back to pouring resin. I've left enough depth from the first pour to secure the armature for branches, so I repeat the 1 to 1 casting resin mix.

Photo 12: Here you can see the resin becoming opaque as it cures. It gives off fumes, so I pour this in the garage studio under hooded vent.

Photo 13: almost completely cured. The curing takes about 5 minutes. In summer, it can be as fast as 30 seconds. The mess-ups in hot weather can be spectacular and cartoon-y---drips cured literally in mid-pour. Also with cussing.

Photo 14: This is where I left off. Now I have an armature ready to start building from.
More later. Hope you enjoyed this part. Questions and comments very welcomed!


Poe said...

Thank you so much for posting this. One thing I fail miserably at is the fact that armatures scare me. I need to practice more with them. I also have never used resin. I have plenty of resin, just hav'nt been brave enough to use it.
I appreciate your step by step, can't wait to see the finish piece.
Awhile back you showed how to make wings. Brilliant! I use my heat gun instead of matches, otherwise I'd end up burning myself and probably my cat or dog. ;-P
Thanks again!

spacedlaw said...

This reminds me of making dolls with my mother.

Shari said...

Hi Lisa - thanks for the giggle I got when you mentioned the perils of summertime resin pouring! I find this really fascinating, because the creative process is rewarding, but sometimes such a pain in the @$$. I'm curious (not an intentional bad pun, sorry!) what does humidity do to resin work? I mean, I know it would slow down the curing process, but can it actually foul up the eventual product (much like, say, under-baking sculpey)?

Also, without a hood vent, would you let these cure outside in good weather, provided there was netting to prevent wind-blown debris? Or would that also be too stinky and hazardous?

Thanks again for your post - interesting and informative. Have a lovely weekend! We finally made it up to zero today, so it could get beautifully misty here tomorrow.

lisa said...

Poe: glad you enjoyed the wings. A heat gun sounds like a wise choice.

spacedlaw: that sounds like a great memory.

Shari: yes, indeed. The mess-ups can be quite memorable.
You could definitely pour the resin outside. Humidity is a factor though. There's really no odor to speak of, but any exothermic chemical reaction calls for ventilation. You have to make absolutely sure that your mold is dry---including the release medium--intruducing water could cause foaming and bubbling. I found out (the hard way) that even the marble chips---the larger ones--can hold a bit of water. Colder temps will cure slowr, but eventually, the resin will cure. Make sure the two parts are equal and well mixed. good luck and don't hesitate to ask if you have more questions.