Monday 10 November 2014

Tutorial step by step - one way to make a paper mâché bowl.

The Golden Bowl - A Winter's Gift - from me to you. Please share with your crafty friends.

There are many ways to make papier mâché bowls - this is one of my ways - made with watercolour paper, gesso or chalk paint - then gilded and painted and polished.
We will be making the following bowl
First of all collect together the following items
Terracotta flower pots - Different sizes for bowls that are tiny to enormous. They are only intended to give support to the bowls whilst they are being constructed. The size of the pot will depend on how large you want your bowl to be. Terracotta is good as it gives weight and helps to keep the process stable. If no terracotta available use plastic and fill the base with gravel or similar to give weight. Initially, work on a small bowl to practice - small flowerpot/small balloon.
A few round balloons -
extra in case some burst or deflate and they most probably will do...
String + scissors + masking tape
Box of tissue

as this kind of paper absorbs lots of glue and is good for the first layers - though not essential.
Tissue Paper

Newspaper will also be fine
Rough watercolour paper 
2 bowls + sieve white glue (Elmers in U.S.A -P.V.A in U.K)
brush + blender

The colour of the balloon I am working on changes throughout these sequences as the balloons can and most likely will deflate over the course of making the bowls. It's a simple enough matter to remove it and blow up another inside your partly made bowl. Sometimes a little tricky but this is how we learn!
First step - is to secure your balloon.
Using soft tissue at this early stage makes an extra sticky base to add the next layer to - but is not an essential step. You can paint glue directly onto the balloons surface or onto the paper. There are no rules.
I often wet the paper - especially if I'm using newsprint or brown paper and then let it drip dry to the damp stage, not dried out.  This I find makes the paper almost like fabric - flexible and easier to manipulate, tear and paste.
Repeat by adding more layers of glue and paper and allow to dry. How many layers you add really depends on the size of the balloon you're working on. The bigger the balloon and therefore the bowl - the more layers. I add about 4-5 layers when using this method. The pulp adds most of the strength to the bowl when dry but you need a strong enough layered base to support the pulp.
Torn watercolour paper - small pieces to put in a blender to make the papier mâché pulp.
Add warm water to help soften the paper and then whizz it all up until there are no lumps and sieve it, gently pressing out about 80% of the water. I try to avoid squeezing as this tends to make lumps.
Add the glue. I'm using white glue. In the U.K we call it P.V.A glue - in the U.S.A it's generally called Elmers glue. I have other recipes on my blog using flour and water paste and wall paper paste. I do like using flour and water paste as it makes the work much more brittle. P.V.A glue brings in a little flexibility to the work which can be an advantage. The amount of glue you add depends on the amount and type of paper you're using. It's all experimentation.
Mix it up and leave on one side for the paper to absorb the glue for a few minutes.
Add pulp in small amounts - working from top to bottom - gently pressing and smoothing out. It helps to work with wet hands - have a small bowl of water by you to dip fingers in. If the pulp should start to slip down the sides of the bowl as you are working with it, simply stop and leave it to dry and then continue later, filling in the gaps.
I've used the inner cardboard disc of an old masking tape roll to make an indentation into the top of the soft pulp which I then filled with glue and pressed the disc into. This will make the foot of the bowl.

When it is dry - pop the balloon. Notice - yet another coloured balloon. Remove balloon by popping it.
Trim away excess to make your bowl the height you want it to be.
Gently tear away some more dried pulp to create a deckle edge. Optional.
Traditional gesso with rabbit skin glue with the
addition of whiting (ground chalk)
and water, is made in a double boiler as it's a gentle process, stirring constantly to a creamy consistency. Do not allow to boil. Gesso can be reconstituted by reheating in the double boiler. More water may be added. 

Painting on coats of warm traditional gesso. Leave to dry between coats. If you build up many coats of gesso you can burnish it to a smooth finish and/or scratch surface decoration into it. I have just painted the inner part of the bowl with gesso and will add silver leaf.
I want to create an aged patina to the silver so when the whole bowl is finished I will let it spent a couple of days in a cardboard box with a few hard boiled eggs. The result, although temporarily rather smelly is well worth it. I have a some

chickens and often have surplus eggs. This is our rather famous and intrepid hen called Emmie after Emmeline Pankhurst. You can find out more about her on the video.
You can if you prefer use acrylic gesso. 
Recipes for traditional gesso and homemade alternative gesso can be found by clicking the links. You can also use a chalk paint - I sometimes use Annie Sloan's Chalk Paints
I am always looking for inspiration. This is a photo of some discarded pieces of lead flashing in an old bucket but once edited in photoshop looks like this and gives me the idea for a starting point
for developing the outer surface of the bowl with fragments of gold, copper and silver leaf, acrylic inks, F.W  Pearlescentiridescent tinting medium and gesso.
I've painted the outer surface of the bowl with acrylic gesso and added silver and copper leaf.  I painted the inside of the bowl with some Acrylic Gold Size and quickly painted random areas of the outside of the bowl with it too, using an old brush. It only takes a few minutes to go tacky and then I added the silver leaf by gently pressing it against the tacky surface. I brushed away any excess with a soft, dry brush (saving any little flakes for future projects) and then repeated the process on the inner part of the bowl to ensure it was pretty well all covered with silver leaf. 
N.B. - Acrylic Gold Size
is not generally used on top of traditional gesso as it tends to form a skin which peels off. I've been using it this way for years and just work with it and if bits peel away, then I simply re-apply the size and some more silver leaf. This is because I will eventually be polishing it with beeswax or Renaissance wax polish
and it will be fine. If you are using acrylic gesso there will be no little anomalies. I rather like the serendipity of anomalies as they usually lead to new discoveries. Repeat the process, adding gold leaf.
Add very loose layers of thick white acrylic paint and leave to dry.
The next photos will show the addition of coloured acrylic paint and then a mixture of flakes of dyed metal leaf and a final polish or two.

Voilà -

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