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Paper Mache Art :: Inspiring Creativity

by Folksy Support

Stanley papier mache bowl Feeling the squeeze? Wanting to be creative but have no cash? Well with this weeks craft as long as you can find some old paper and a couple of other low cost items you can make the most amazing creations! I can’t promise you will get as good as the outstanding makers featured here, but you can certainly have fun creating and involving your family; paper mache is a fabulously inclusive craft, if not a little messy!

Lets get started, our makers use very different techniques to get create their work, but the absolute basics are paper, water, wall paper paste, paint and some varnish to finish

Amelia Greenheart told me, ” I shred and soak old newspapers and waste office paper overnight in boiling water and then ‘cook’ the shreddings for about two hours to help break down the structure of the paper and finally mash the paper into a pulp…squeeze out excess water. I then mix wall-paper paste and PVA glue into the pulp with my hands until I have a dough-like material… now I form the basic shape from recycled cardboard…I cut slits into it to help sculpt the shape and I secure the basic shape with staples and strips of newspaper and cover both inside and outside with my paper dough, at this stage you can embed items. Once dry, I paint on my design and finally I apply a matt varnish to seal the product. “

Rose Lullaby Dolls uses a different method, “I make puppet dolls using masking tape as a sculpting material. I then cover the tape in layers of coloured tissue paper and PVA glue to achieve the skin tones I need. Each one of my dolls is entirely individually sculpted – there’s no ‘base’ in the middle of their heads as people often assume”.

Rose Lullaby DollsSo where do our makers get their inspiration from?

Rose Lullaby Dolls inspiration is obvious! “People, I have always been obsessed with human faces. I really enjoy working out the geometry of someones face – if you get it right you can create a likeness of someone with very simple shapes.”
Amelia Greenheart explains, “I was originally inspired by my friend Helena Weaver who made very delicate and unusual objects in paper pulp. I am very fond of Matisse and Paul Klee…mostly I like to produce items inspired by my surroundings at home in Harrogate and the awesome beauty of Yorkshire”.

So what are the highs and lows of paper mache?

Amelia Greenheart says the challenge is that they are, “..committed to using recycled, reclaimed and pre-loved materials. The challenge is to stay true this aim by recovering materials which people would otherwise throw away and to ask for and encourage people to share materials they no longer need” and the highlights for them are creating a commission personal to the client which carries their memories and is unique to them.

Rose Lullaby Dolls has different troughs, but the same personal touch make the highs, “The portrait dolls I make. Working from photos to create little mini versions of people is really challenging, but very satisfying, and they’re often bought for very special occasions, weddings, anniversaries, for special birthdays. It’s lovely to think of my work at those special occasions”.

Where did our makers learn their craft?Rainbow swirl paper mache star bowl

Both are self taught and have created their own method, but as Rose Lullaby Dolls explains, you pick up skills from everywhere, “I trained as a Set and Costume designer for theatre…but over the years I started to occasionally be asked to make puppets for shows I was working on… I took a day course in rod puppet making at Norwich Puppet Theatre. That was where I was first introduced to using masking tape instead of glue. My puppet dolls use lots of skills I’ve picked up from all over the place though – from my initial Blue Peter arts and crafts training through to studying dressmaking at college”.

Still fancy having a go? Where do our makers recommend you go?

Amelia Greenheart told me, “Many artists, makers and crafters offer workshops in papier mache. I would recommend volunteering at Henshaws Arts and Crafts Centre in Knaresborough, North Yorkshire  where there are excellent opportunities to learn some of these skills while enabling and supporting other people to produce their own art.” Google paper mache and your local area to find something similar near you.
They are also working on a step by step video to embed in their blog and of course there are U Tube videos!

Rose Lullaby Dolls paper mache Rose Lullaby Dolls says, ” I run workshops and birthday parties in puppet making for all ages. I would also have to recommend Norwich Puppet Theatre and Little Angel Puppet Theatre as great places to learn about puppet making and puppeteering”. (Rose Lullaby Dolls blog)

I hope you found these guys work as inspiring as I have. Also, I have very fond memories of childhood school trips to Norwich Puppet Theatre and cannot recommend a visit there enough!

All items pictured are availaible at www.folksy.com – please just click the images for more details.

More about our columnist – Amy is a stained glass artist from Exeter and has a succesful Folksy shop ‘Amy OrangeJuice’ selling suncatchers, mobiles and Christmas decorations with the left over pieces of glass from her larger comissioned pieces as well as reclaimed glass. (pictured are her pretty heart tree ornaments) Read Amy’s blog and visit her folksy shop to find out more, or buy a piece of work from this talented and award winning glass artist. You can find out more about her on her website, facebook or her blog.

Take a look at some of the other fascinating handcrafts that Amy has tackled in her Inspiring Creativity series. Thanks for reading, we look forward to hearing your comments.

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Amanda - Blossom Fair November 2, 2010 - 6:47 am

I love this! I was only thinking the other day how I want to try paper mache & this has definately inspired me to try it.

I love working with paper & do a lot of decoupage so this feels like the next step for me.

Thanks for a great article.
Amanda x

Sue November 2, 2010 - 6:49 pm

Great post, will definitely give this a go.

Layla Dolly November 2, 2010 - 9:27 pm

Interesting article, thanks xx

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