Posted by: MiniMonets | August 17, 2018

Paper Mache!

After creating in clay and wire for several projects, I like to introduce the art of Paper Mache to my students. Paper Mache is a process of layering pieces of paper or fabric that has been soaked in watery glue (or any other liquid adhesive) and then layered onto a firm surface. Once dried, the paper or fabric becomes much stronger from the glue. Paper Mache actually originated in China despite its French name. The Chinese used Paper Mache to create stronger helmets for battle.

Last year, we made Mayan Headresses in Paper Mache, but this year, I wanted to have the students Paper Mache a horned creature. I chose a unicorn to show as the example, but the students were free to create any animal, real or imaginary. We started by wrapping a piece of aluminum foil around a paper cup. From there, the students could twist the foil into a unicorn, narwhal, elephant tusks, giraffe horns, or even the hook from Captain Hook. The next step is to dip their fingertips of newspaper into watered-down glue. Next, the sculptors took a piece of newspaper and wiped the glue from their fingers to dampen the strip of newspaper. Then they had to lay the newspaper piece by piece until all the aluminum foil was covered. Ideally, there should be at least 3 layers of the newspaper. Some artists really enjoyed getting their fingers messy in the glue, while others would not make it past 3 pieces in the glue. This is the one project every year that I will work on for the artists so that they can have a finished sculpture.

Once the Paper Mache has dried, it has a durability more like cardboard than newspaper. Some sculptors could remove the cup base since it would no longer need it. I gave the students metallic gold and copper paint, the primary (red, yellow, blue) colors, plus white, and black to paint their animals. Since some creatures were imaginary, I wanted the artists to paint what they saw in their imaginations. While they painted, I read two poems by Shel Silverstein. The first poem and song, “The Unicorn,” is about how the playful unicorns did not make it onto the Ark and that is why there are no more unicorns. The second poem “Help” is about a Unicorn who has gotten his horn stuck in a tree. The narrator offers to free the unicorn, but when the Unicorn asks too many questions, the narrator decides to leave him there. I have shared both of these poems at the end of this letter.

The objective of this lesson is to use Paper Mache to create a realistic or imaginary animal.


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