Sculpting with paper mache, using paper mache clay in place of other sculpting materials.
I’ve had this project in mind for the last year or so but I went back and forth on what to use to make it.
I like sculpting with polymer clay but it needs to be baked and for this project that wasn’t possible. I considered using das, air dry clay and while that would work I don’t like using it, the smell and texture gets to me. In the end I settled on paper mache clay, because I like using it, its inexpensive and I had everything I needed. That’s a win, win, win right?
Paper Mache clay
I have used ultimate paper mache’s paper mache clay several times in the past and it always works great. It dries hard but its still sand-able, and the surface texture is porous enough to paint easily.
How to use paper mache clay
- Source your ingredients recipe here
- Wet toilet paper and mix in other ingredients, blend until smooth. Store your mixure covered in the fridge when its not in use.
- If you are using an armature start with using strips of paper with your paper mache clay to create a base.
- Build up your sculpture slowly with layers, the thicker a layer is the longer it’ll take to dry.
- Let dry completely.
- Add finally layers to smooth it out * optional.
- Sand or carefully carve away where necessary.
- Paint with acrylic paints.
- Seal with acrylic sealer.
With any paper mache, layers are important. With paper mache clay if your layer gets too thick it’ll have a hard time holding itself together while it dries. Not to mention it’ll take forever to dry if its too thick. In the past I have gone back and forth between clay and strips on the same project. This created the shapes and deep textures I wanted with the clay and evening it out with the strips. This is the same process I used for this paper mache bat mask I made for my toddler. Check that out HERE.
For the project I am making in the pictures, I did it all in one layer although I kept the tongue separate to help it dry out. The inside of the mouth still took a full 48 hours to dry. Even then; the inside was still a tad damp when I started painting the rest. I used paper mache clay and some strips of toilet paper just to get the texture I wanted. Having that cohesive strip of toilet paper meant I could move it around a bit to create the skin around the scars.
Recreating Nancy’s Phone
- paper mache clay
- toilet paper
- tin foil
- acrylic paint
- acrylic sealer
- spray paint
- wooden panel
This project had a couple special considerations. I was worried the plastic of the phone wouldn’t be a great surface for the paper mache but hoped because of the shape it wouldn’t matter. I ended up being right thankfully! It didn’t stick to the phone when dried but because its in all the nooks and crannies and shaped over the whole base it doesn’t move at all.
The phone I had for it was originally a super yellowed white. The original in the movie is a light blue so I used a spray paint/ primer combo and spray painted it. I had to take it all apart first to make sure I wasn’t getting paint where I didn’t want it. Since I had taken it all apart anyway I removed the circuit board and speakers to make it lighter. After all the sculpting and painting was done I sprayed some spray paint into my pallet and used a brush to touch it up.
For the tongue I made a folded tinfoil armature. I started with layers of toilet paper with the paper mache clay to give it something to adhere to. After a full two days the paper mache was mostly ready to paint. I painted the outside of the mouth first and left the inside to keep drying.
This piece is highly textured so one of the major challenges was making sure I got paint in every little space. Any white speckles or corners left unpainted stand out. The painting was done in layers, from dark to light and lots of blending to make the scars/wounds look right. To get the right colour on the tongue I tested it repeatedly against my sons tongue (he is always willing to help).
To finish off this project I wanted to have a way to display it but also be able to pick up the handset. I took a wooden art panel and painted and sealed it then placed two screws. One screw for the back of the receiver and one for the phone. I used a Dremel to shave out a hole in the back of the phone just big enough for the head of the screw. Naturally I completely ruined my Dremel bit doing this but it worked.
The finished product is just what I wanted it to be. It hangs securely on the wall but the handset can be picked up. This was made for my brother and has since been shipped off. Before it was sent away, however, we made a couple of choice reels with it.