I recently completed the Paper mache class here on the Instructables website which introduced me to something that I haven't thought of before and that is the use of papers other than ordinary newsprint to achieve different effects with paper mache. I also found the "casting over" information in the class to be very compelling. In addition, the class also introduced me to a material I had not heard of before.....paper clay. What's more is that the class also provided provided a link to Jonni Good's paper mache recipes.
On further inspection of Jonni's website, I was intrigued by her mask making technique using blue shop towels and casting over WED clay. I absolutely love trying out new things and working with materials that I haven't used before so I knew I had to see what I could create with these ideas.
I needed to come up with an interesting and practical item to create using paper mache. Not only did I want it to be useful, I also wanted it to be a really fun item that I could enjoy for years to come. The idea that came to my mind was to create an artistic clock for my wall. While contemplating my approach to this project, I thought, "if Mikaela Holmes (The Paper Mache Class Instructor here on Instructables) can cast over a bowl and Jonni Good (Paper Mache Artist) can cast over clay, then I should be able to cast over EPS foam." I searched for more information about casting over EPS foam or even using the EPS foam as an armature, but I wasn't able to find anything online. Okay then, that makes my project even more interesting because it's like new territory for me and this is going to a be really interesting trail and error approach. What fun!
Step 1: Tools and Materials
- Mixing Bowl
- Measuring Cups
- Razor Blades
- Pencil with Eraser
- Dremel Tool with cutting wheels and bits
- Hot Knife or Scroll Saw
- Paint Brushes
- Electric Sander (Optional)
- Drill and drill bit
- Blue Shop Towels
- Plaster of Paris
- Elmer's Glue All
- White Vinegar
- Acrylic Gesso
- Clear Spray Varnish
- Masking Tape
- EPS Foam
- Styrofoam Balls
- Heavy Gauge Wire
- Wire Cutters
- Gel Glue
- Acrylic Paints
- Paper Clay
- Fine Grit Sandpaper
- Pendulum Clock Kit and battery
- Wooden Skewers
- Paper Embellishments (Optional)
Step 2: Draw the Design
I used scrap cardboard and a marker to freehand draw my designs. Next, I cut the drawing out and used it as a pattern. I traced the pattern out onto EPS Foam board.
Step 3: Cut the Form Out
For the cat piece, I used (3) layers of 1" EPS foam to build the form. I cut (3) duplicate pieces and then removed certain pieces from different layers to achieve the dimensional look I was going for. This placed the back leg all the way to the back and the front leg to the front, etc. Once everything was cut the way I wanted it, I hand sanded the outer edges of all three pieces. For the top piece, I used a razor blade to cut the edges off the top edge and then rounded it over by hand sanding with fine grit sand paper. I used small Styrofoam balls to form the eyes and hand cut and sculpted the cheeks from EPS foam. My new hot knife was used for the first time ever to cut the cat pieces but I think my old method of cutting my foam pieces out with my scroll saw will be the method I stick to in the future.
For the fish, I cut (2) layers of EPS foam out with my scroll saw. I decided on only two layers since the fish will mount to the pendulum at the middle of the edge of the cat piece. I used a Styrofoam ball to form the body and I added curled wired into the fins. I also curled wire for the cat's whiskers but I chose not to install them until the end.
To hold my pieces together for the paper mache work, I used masking tape and a few wooden skewers pushed through the foam pieces. The reason I chose skewers is because hot glue, spray glue, and super glue tend to melt the EPS.
Step 4: Preparing the Paper
I decided to use damp blue shop towels in order to achieve the smooth finish I was going for. As long as you keep them from rolling up, the edges blend in very well with each other. They are thicker than standard paper towels (giving added strength) and also posses some stretching capability that enables you to use larger pieces. The damp shop towels tend to conform well around curves with limited wrinkles as well. I read about this technique on Jonni Good's Blog article "Blue Paper Towels for Paper Mache" and I instantly knew I wanted to try using them for this project.
To prepare the paper, I hand tore the factory edges off and discarded those sections. Next, I wet the paper towels, squeezed out the excess water, and then tore them into workable strips. Most of my pieces were quite large in size due to the layout of the form but I did tear a few smaller pieces for harder to get to areas.
Step 5: Preparing the Paste
According to the Instructables Paper Mache class, glue as a binding agent creates a stronger structure that is less likely to rot in comparison to a flour based paste. With this in mind, I elected to use a glue based paste and I ultimately selected Jonni Good's Glue and Plaster of Paris Paste (found on her paper mache recipes page) to use for this project. This is a fast setting paste so I mixed this in small batches and only after I had prepared my paper and work space to start the mache process.
Step 6: Casting Experimentation
When I decided to create my form from EPS foam, I had in mind that it could possibly serve as a reusable casting mold. I wasn't exactly sure it would work so this is the point where my project became experimental. I decided to coat the foam form with Vaseline to serve as a release agent. Next, I applied two layers of paper and paste and allowed the project to dry under a fan for 24 hours. Once dry, I discovered that it was fairly easy to remove the paper mache from the foam mold. I cut the back edge best I could with a pair of scissors and carefully evaluated the project. In conclusion of my evaluation, I decided that this particular project was not a good candidate for a casting method for two reasons. First, the piece is rather large and I felt that it would be very difficult to make the back edge completely flush for mounting against the wall (even with the addition of a reinforcing strip around the edge). Secondly, I wondered how I could mount the clock mechanism and hanging bracket into the hollow shell. While I will most definitely visit this casting over foam technique for future projects (say Christmas Ornaments), I elected to scrap this casting for the clock project and instead, encapsulate my form.
I started over and applied just one layer of blue shop towel and paste to my form front and back. This time, I used larger pieces of paper and the process went rather quickly. I allowed this one to dry under a fan for 24 hours before moving to the next step.
Step 7: Paper Clay Details
Now that my project was dry, it was time to try out the paper clay. I elected to use the Creative Paperclay pre-made clay because my project only needed a tiny amount of clay and also because the Instructables Paper Mache class informed me that it was smoother compared to the Celluclay or homemade options.
I sculpted eyelids and built a better nose onto my cat. Next, I added lips and eyes to the fish. Then, I allowed the Paperclay to dry overnight. When it was completely dry, I was able to sand it smooth.
Step 8: Gesso and Sanding
Now that my project was completely dry, I brushed on several layers of Acrylic Gesso allowing each coat to dry before sanding in between coats. It made the project turn out really smooth and nice. I also covered my metal wires on my fish with Gesso which adhered quite nicely to the metal as well. While I had the Gesso out, I decided to go ahead and Gesso the wires I had formed for the cat's whiskers as well. I stuck the wires into a piece of Styrofoam to serve as a drying rack and coated them with with a nice coat.
Step 9: Cutting the Clock Slots
I used a cut off wheel and a carving bit on my Dremel tool to cut out the area where the clock goes into the back side. Next, I drilled some holes from the bottom edge of the clock where the pendulum will swing up to the area I had just cut out for the clock mechanism. After I had the holes drilled through, I was able to use a knife to cut the slot so the pendulum can swing.
Step 10: Painting and Sealing
The surface was now ready to be painted. I marked my design with pencil and used Acrylic paint to paint the piece. I ended up applying two coats of paint. The acrylic paint dried quickly and I was then able to add the wire whiskers to the cat. I applied a bit of gel glue to get them to set and painted the whiskers with acrylic paint as well. Once dry, I was able to spray with two coats of glossy varnish to seal it all in and protect the piece.
Step 11: Finishing
The last thing left to do was to install the clock, pendulum, clock hands, wall hanger mount, whiskers, and numbers. I used a bent wire to form the hanger and added paper numbers to the clock face area.
Step 12: Tick Tock - It's a Kitty Clock
Thank you so very much for viewing my Paper Mache Pendulum Wall Clock Instructable.