Part 3 – Stages 2&3, Project 1 – Moulding from a surface (blog post 1)

13 January 2017

Stages 2&3, Project 1 – Moulding from a surface – blog post 1


There are four methods which can be used to capture the texture of other materials. 

  1. To make an impression by pressing the textured item into a soft surface (e.g. pressing into modelling clay)
  2. To mould a pliable material by forming it around a hard textured surface whilst wet (e.g. fabric soaked in liquid starch or sugar solution which subsequently dries and hardens to retain it’s shape)
  3. By brushing thin layers of a moulding liquid onto a textured surface. When it subsequently sets it retains the shape and texture of the surface (e.g. latex, silicon)
  4. By pouring a casting liquid into a textured container. When the  liquid subsequently sets it retains the container shape and texture (e.g. plaster or concrete)
The course notes state to use at least four different casting materials to make around six objects. There is no reference to first making a mould, then casting from it, and the guidance seems to hint at using ready-made containers such as textured meat trays or skins of fruit and vegetables. For this project, I have tried to explore as many techniques as possible, and to get a breadth of experience with each method. 
The categories which I explored were:
1. Clay press
  • Air-drying clay
  • Polymer clay
  • Paperclay

2. Mouldable polymers (Softsculpt foam)

3. Papier mache
  • Carton Pierre
  • Layered papier mache
4. Formable fabric
  • Wetted leather
  • ModRoc
  • Starched fabric
  • Rice paper
5. Latex
6. Silicone rubber
7. Plaster of paris cast in a clay press mould.
This obviously gave me more than 6 samples! However, I felt that I needed to make a few with each material to understand how it would be have in different circumstances.
Evaluation of outcomes:
I wanted to compare different materials and their pros and cons, so I thought of the following questions to ask for each sample:
  1. How much does it cost?
  2. How easy is it to use?
  3. How well does it capture the surface texture/detail?
  4. Is it soft and flexible or hard and rigid?
  5. What options are their for colouring and subsequent working (i.e. drilling, stitching, surface distressing)

I wanted to use the project as an opportunity to learn about and compare the behaviour of materials. I started by investigating types of impression which could be made into different types of clay. Below are some general comments about my experience with each:
  • Air-drying clay – cheap (£4/kg from Amazon). Soft and easy to use. It captured texture well, and dried rigid. It is possible to subsequently apply surface treatments such as painting, varnish or possibly metallic leaf. Dries a pale grey colour.
  • Paper clay – expensive (£12.85/454g from Amazon). Softer and easier to mould than air-drying clay but much more expensive. Compared with Air-drying clay there is less tendency to crack, the finished piece is lighter weight and the surface finish is smoother. However, it does tend to warp and curl as it dries. Dries a pale beige colour. 
  • Polymer clay – expensive (£12/454g from NUA student shop). Firm and difficult to work. Did not capture the detail as well as air-drying clay. Rigid with a mottled appearance after firing. Can be drilled or surface distressed.
SAMPLE 1: Homemade pattern from crushed eggshells
I used the crushed egg shell pattern – sample on page 12 of my sketchbook (see below)
I pressed the clay against the surface, smoothing it out using my thumbs and a plastic rolling pin. I then carefully peeled the clay from the surface. No release agents were used during the moulding process.
Sample 1a) Air-drying clay:
I used DAS brand of air-drying clay in a white colour. Once moulded, the clay was left on a talcum-powder covered plastic board overnight to dry. 
The finished result captured the relief reasonably, however the edges were not as sharply defined as the eggshell pieces on the pattern. The fine brush marks from the acrylic paint were not visible in the mould, despite being visible in the rubbings on page 11 of the sketchbook. The result reminded me of pox-marked skin!
SAMPLE 2: Homemade pattern from cut up fruit netting
I used the cut up fruit netting pattern – sample on page 12 of my sketchbook (see below):
Sample 2a) Air-drying clay:

I used the DAS Brand of clay in the same way as sample 1a).
This surface was more accurately captured in my moulding compared with the egg-shell pattern. Lots of fine detail of the net, but once again, the fine detail of the acrylic paint brush marks was not replicated.
Sample 2b) Polymer clay:
The brand of clay which I chose to use was ‘Super Sculpey’. It is described as ceramic-like and with a semi-translucent finish. The only colour available to me was beige, although it can be purchased in other shades.
Before moulding it was necessary to work the clay in the fingers until kit became soft and malleable. This was both time consuming and uncomfortable (because the clay was so stiff). After moulding in the same way as for the air-drying clay, I laid out the sample on a metal tray and “fired” it in my domestic oven at 130degC for 15 minutes (in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions).
The texture of the fruit net was well replicated, although not as well as air-drying clay. Some acrylic paint brush marks were visible. However, there was a mottled effect caused by inclusions in the material which distracted from the relief pattern making it difficult to visually read. The finished moulding was rigid and tough. Despite the finish being supposedly translucent (manufacturer’s description), to me it appeared opaque. The colour was unchanged by firing.
SAMPLE 2c) Paperclay:
The paperclay gave a finish comparable to the air-drying clay, maybe slightly better definition. However, as the sample dried it did not stay flat, but warped and curled.
SAMPLE 3: Homemade paperclip print block
I used an existing print block made from opened out paper clips glued onto a cardboard base. To make my moulded surfaces, I used the same methods as for sample 2.
Sample 3a) Air-drying clay:

The air-drying clay produced a reasonable replica, although the clay did not peel away particularly easily from the pattern (I did not use a release agent)

Sample 3b) Polymer clay:

I took the polymer clay mould after the air-drying clay. I didn’t use a release agent and some areas got stuck slightly as I tried to peel it off from the pattern. This was because the paperclips were becoming unstuck from the card, so there was some undercutting of the clay.
The level of detail is similar to the are-drying clay. 
Sample 3c) Paperclay:
The paperclay also produced an excellent sample. It was smoother than the air-drying clay, however it did warp as it dried, as can be seen from the photo below:
SAMPLE 4: Avocado skin
I made a pattern by taking the skin of half an Avocado and turning it inside out. I did this so that the mould would appear as a dome and show off the texture nicely. I used the same methods as for samples 2. I didn’t need to use a release agent, although the skin was ‘single use’, because it had to be torn during removal.
Sample 4a) Air-drying clay:
The sample was delightful – a very detailed and beautiful texture, which was more interesting because it was a dome rather than flat.
I can imagine several of these pieces being joined in interesting ways, with contrasting joining materials.
Sample 4b) Polymer clay:
The sample was disappointing because it lacked detail. Consequently, it was nowhere near as dramatic as sample 4a).
Sample 4c) Paperclay:
A good replica, comparable with air-drying clay.
SAMPLE 5: Lace
First, I rolled a slab of clay flat. I then laid the piece of lace on a clear flat plastic lid, and placed the clay slab on top, pressing down. Turning the lid over carefully, I was able to see the fabric the other side and check that they clay was making contact with it in all places (see below):
Where necessary, I applied additional pressure selectively with my fingers, before gently peeling the clay off the lid and the fabric.
Sample 5a) Air-drying clay:
The moulding replicated every small detail of the lace fabric. Because the impressions are shallow, the effect is subtle and delicate.
Sample 5b) Polymer clay:
The level of detail is similar to air-drying clay, although the relief is more difficult to discern because of the colour and mottling of the clay.
Sample 5c) Paperclay:
A very detailed replica, although I’m not sure that the impression is as deep as the air-drying clay sample (possibly because I didn’t press as hard). Again, the sample warped as it dried.
SAMPLE 6: Homemade hot glue pattern
I made this pattern by ‘drawing’ with a hot glue gun onto a piece of used etching polycarbonate. When the glue dried it made a raised surface which I used as a pattern for moulding (see below)
The idea came from a book which I have on printing, which suggested the same method for making print stencils (Bautista, 2014:10). I used the same method of moulding as for sample 5.
Sample 6a) Air-drying clay:
The clay made a very faithful replica of the pattern. I love the loose painterly feel of the marks which the glue makes. It got me thinking about exciting possibilities for using a glue gun to ‘draw’ a pattern design which is a recognisable image rather than the abstract marks which I used for my sample.
Sample 6b) Polymer clay:
As, I have seen in other samples, the relief on the polymer clay image was more difficult to read than the air-drying clay.
SAMPLE 7: Fern leaves:
I found two different species of evergreen fern from the garden and pressed the leaves into flat slabs on clay (using the same method as sample 5). The photo below shows the moulding in progress:
Sample 7a) Air-drying clay:
The air-drying clay produced a very detailed, accurate replica of the leaves.
Sample 7b) Polymer clay:
Polymer clay was again disappointing. The detail did not transfer as well and the image was feint. Also, some of the hairs from the fern stem and some tiny pieces of leaf stuck to the clay, as I removed it. I removed the leaf fragments with the tip of a knife, but I could not extract the hairs and these remain embedded in the clay.
Because the polymer clay moulds were consistently of lower quality than air-drying clay and in consideration of it’s higher cost, I decided not to do any further mouldings using it.
Sample 7c) Paperclay:
A vey detailed impression, similar to air-drying clay.
SAMPLE 8: Bergenia leaf

The Bergenia (also known as “Elephant Ear Plant”) has waxy evergreen leaves which have bold veins and toothed edges. I used the same method as sample 5 to make an impression on rolled out strips of clay.
I chose this leaf because it was not too large and had characteristic “bite” marks at the edges. Being the winter there was not too much choice. I would have ideally liked a leave with more delicate veins to better assess the mould properties of the clay.
Sample 8a) Air-drying clay:
The mould is a reasonable replica, although I don’t find the leaf impression particularly dramatic or interesting.
SAMPLE 9: Homemade Lego and acrylic paint shims pattern
For a while now I have been pulling off saving those dried up layers of paint which form on paint tubes as excess paint dries around the opening. I have been fascinated by the shape of these ‘shims’ – similar, yet each slightly different.
I made my pattern by gluing shims and lego strips onto an unused polycarbonate etching plate (see below):
The paint shims were flexible and I wasn’t sure if they’d stay put during the moulding process, but in the event they were fine. I used a hot glue gun to secure them to the plate.
Sample 9a) Air-drying clay:
The impression made was bold and accurate. Both these components worked really well and I can imagine them being used as part of a larger piece.
SAMPLE 10: Homemade pattern of keys, coins and nail
I chose coins because I wanted to see if my moulding would be able to capture the detail of their surface markings. I chose keys and nails because they are bold and have a high relief. I chose a piece of wood to mould them on to see if the wood grain could be captured in the mouldings.
Initially, I tried to glue the metal objects using UHU. The glue did not hold, so I tried again using the hot glue gun. The result was secure was there was some messy overspill of glue onto the wood. Never mind; I went ahead with my moulding.
Sample 10a) Air-drying clay:
I found that the clay stuck to the pattern, so I sprinkled talcum powder as a release agent, as recommended by Brooks (Brooks, 2005:31). Unfortunately, the clay still stuck because of undercutting along the shank and bit of the keys. There was a further issue due to the way that I applied pressure with a rolling pin, causing the clay slab to ‘jump’ and produce ghost mouldings (this was the first press mould which I made and I subsequently modified my technique to ensure I applied a more even pressure).
In addition to the difficulties I have outlined above, I was also not able to replicate the detail from the face of the coins, nor the wood grain within my moulding.
SAMPLE 11: Homemade pattern using cocktail sticks and string
I attempted to make a pattern by using a hot glue gun to secure cocktail stick and A coil of string onto a piece of wood. The pattern making was not successful because I found it impossible to prevent the glue from overspilling and messing up the surface (see below):
None the less, I decided to go ahead and make a press mould, thinking that the glue trails might add interesting extra textures!
Sample 11a) Air-drying clay:
The resulting mould was a mess. Because the Cocktail sticks and string were not flush to the wood there was severe undercutting and the clay slab did not pull away cleanly.
Although I actually rather like the finished results, it does not reflect the initial surface and could more easily have been made by simply scratching with implements along the clay surface.
SAMPLE 12: Candle holder
The metal container which I used to as a pattern originally housed a glass jar and a scented candle. The design is bold, and I was able to roll a flat slab of clay before pressing it with my fingers against the surface. When I peeled the clay away, I laid the mould flat to dry.
Sample 12a) Air-drying clay:
The resulting mould is bold and very well defined. Although it has a fabric-like quality it is a more striking relief than the mould which I look from a piece of lace (sample 5). This is because my pattern was rigid, so I was able to press the clay almost through the holes. I am very pleased with this result and I shall look out for similar found objects which I might use.
I developed this idea through observational drawings in my sketchbook (see page 32)
SAMPLE 13: Homemade pattern using staples
I used a pattern which I had developed in my sketchbook (see page 13). I did not use a release agent. Being card, there was a tendency for it to absorb the moisture from the clay. 
Sample 13a) Air-drying clay:
I used talcum powder as a release agent because the first sample I had made (13b) had tendency to stick when I peeled away the clay. However, I have found that it’s not ideal using powder because the clay tends to move across the surface, as the impressions are taken. That’s what happened in this case, and “ghost” impressions are visible. 
Sample 13b) Paperclay: 
This sample was the first impression that I took for the pattern, without the use of a release agent. Although there was some slight adhesion of the clay to the staples, the resulting sample was an excellent impression of the pattern. However, there was a lot of surface warping because the sample was thin.
I was interested in the very subtle shadows and tonal variation in this sample, so I made an observational sketch (see page 27 of my sketchbook).
SAMPLE 14: Fabric selection
I took four different fabric types: a rolled up pipe cleaner, some corduroy, some decorative trim and fur fabric. I used Vaseline on the corduroy and fur fabric as a release agent. No release agents were used on the other materials. I then made a press mould using paperclay.
Sample 14a) Paperclay:
Apart from the trim and perhaps the pipe cleaner, the other materials gave a very subtle impressions which were rather disappointing.
There was no perceivable difference between the behaviour of the materials which had Vaseline applied as a release agent, and those which did not. However, due to fraying at the cut edge, there was some corduroy and fur fabric fibre left stuck in the clay after it was peeled away.
Although this was not the intended outcome, it reminded me of the work of Rebecca Fairley, who, as well as taking moulds of fabrics, sometimes also imbeds them into the casting material, or works them in a way which leaves visible fibres behind. As can be seen in the case of Rebecca’s work this can give an attractive outcome. I need to bear in mind when using “fluffy-fibres” fabrics that shedding will occur around the edges. The effect is not aesthetically pleasing in my sample, although it might be useful in another context.
SAMPLE 15: Textured knitting
I cut a piece of an old jumper which I had knitted, with the aim of taking a press-mould and seeing whether the cables could be replicated as a textured surface in the clay.
Sample 15a) Paperclay:
I decided I would smear half of the sample with Vaseline release agent and the other half I would not use a release agent, so that I could compare the results. There was no difference, either in the ease of peeling back the clay from the knitted fabric, nor the quality of the impression.
Some of the stitching are visible, but it isn’t as dramatic as I’d hoped. It is still a pleasing effect and I wonder if the pattern might be emphasised by applying colour selectively across the high points?

SAMPLE 16: Knitted string
I knitted a piece of garden string in garter stitch using 12mm needles. I smeared Vaseline onto the knitted square before taking press mould impressions with two types of air-drying clay. I purposely chose a loose, open, lacy stitch and a textured yarn (the string).
Sample 16a) Air-drying clay:
I made impression in a slab of clay, then built up “walls” around the edge with the idea of later using it as a mould for a plaster or silicone casting (N.B. In the photo below, the sample has already been used as a mould for silicon rubber, and there is some residual yellow staining)
I was very pleased with the impression which was really bold and, in the negative, resembles scales.
Sample 16b) Paperclay:
If anything the mould turned out even better in paperclay. I was pleasantly surprised that the knitting came away from the clay easily and that there were very few retained fibres. However, once again the sample became warped as it dried.
SAMPLE 17: Crushed can
An encounter with some rubbish whilst on a walk gave me the idea of using a crushed can as a pattern (also being an opportunity to use a found object). Instead of using this can embedded in the mud (which would have been difficult and time-consuming to clean), I used a fresh can from home. The muddy can was very visually appealing, however, in that the placement of the mud in the low points reminded me of “Surface d’empaquetage” (Christo, 1960) and Christo’s early wrapped cans and bottles (Beach packaging design, 2015).
Sample 17a) Air-drying clay:
First, I smeared a crushed can with Vaseline (my release agent) before pressing a slab of clay into the can to make my sample. I encountered some technical difficulties with undercutting, so there are parts of the mould which tended to pull away as I peeled it off the pattern. However the finished result is generally good, and the negative impression is very intriguing – considering it has been taken from a familiar everyday object, it looks very different from the original.
I enjoyed making an observational drawing of this sample in my sketchbook and thinking of was in which the image might be viewed/manipulated (see sketchbook page 31).

SAMPLE 18: Scored polystyrene meat tray

For this sample, I thought back to my earlier work in surface distortion for part 1, project 4, exercise 2. I used a scalpel to scratch and gouge at the base of a polystyrene meat tray to creat a textures surface for moulding.


Sample 18a) Air-drying clay:

I pressed some air-drying clay into the base of the dish to take an imprint. No release agents were used. The clay was removed from the tray when dry, however, because of the fragile nature of the scored polystyrene, some of it was pulled away with the clay, so it would probably only be possible to use this once as a mould.
The effect is a very faithfully reproduced textured surface which looks almost like a loosely woven fabric or weaving. I love the different densities of marks and how the different height ridges create shadows of different tones.
Mouldable polymers:
I had some sheets of softsculpt (a thermoplastic foam) already in my inventory, so it made sense to try this material. The fact that it can be punctured or sewn into after moulding was also appealing. The foam comes in two thicknesses; the thicker version being more suitable for small embossed plaques and patches and the thin version being better for sculptural forms (Hedley, 2004:87-97).
In both cases, I heated the oven to 140deg C before placing pieces of foam on a baking tray to heat up (60 seconds for thin foam, 90 seconds for thick foam). I quickly took the foam out of the oven and moulded it using my pattern/s.
  • Cost: Expensive, £3.95 for 4 x A5 sheets, two of each thickness
  • Ease of use: Not difficult, but it only remains plastic for a few seconds after heating, so it is difficult to mould large areas, and/or to make a surface with relief areas of different heights.
  • Reproduction of surface texture/detail: Better with some surfaces than others. Generally did not capture as fine detail as clay or plaster.
  • Handle: Soft and bendable, similar to polystyrene foam or Funky foam. It returns to it’s pre-heated condition approximately 10 seconds after removing from the heat source.
  • Potential for colouring and working: Can be stitched by machine or hand. Colouring is possible with acrylic-based paints, spray paints and fabric paints (Headley, 2004:92).
SAMPLE 18: metal beer-bottle caps
I placed several bottle tops flat side down on a wooden board. I took the heated foam and placed it on top before quickly placing another wooden board onto the foam and applying pressure for 10 seconds. Upon removing the boards and bottle caps, the impression was set into the foam (see below)
The impressions are really deep and uniform. I like the crinkled edges and the negative spaces which are created between the circles.
SAMPLE 19: A mixture of different textured items

For this sample I used the thick foam and a variety of items placed on a board (see below), using the same method as sample 18.
The sample was really disappointing (see below)
This was because it was impossible to apply adequate pressure across all the items at the same time, due to them being different heights/thicknesses. As a consequence, most of the textures and contours were not adequately replicated. 
Luckily, because Softsculpt is thermoplastic, it recovered when put it back in the oven to heat and I was able to use it for another sample!
SAMPLE 20: Forming around a basket
I heated a thin piece of Softsculpt form before forming it around my work basket (see below):
It had to use my hand to apply pressure around the curved surface, which would have been impossible had the piece of Softsculpt been any larger. In the event, however, I produced an interesting double-sided sample.
It was easy to use an office hole punch to make a hole in the sample through which to attach the label.
SAMPLE 21: Candle holder
Using the same candle holder as sample 12 for my pattern, I pressed a heated piece of thin Softsculpt to make an impression (see below):
The replication of detail was adequate, however not as good as the air-drying clay. I experienced similar issues as I had with sample 20; it being difficult to apply and maintain even pressure whilst the foam was heated and still plastic.
SAMPLE 22: Bottle-opener
I only had one bottle opener (see below), so I had to work quickly to make multiple impressions whilst the foam was still plastic.
The photograph below is the finished sample, which displays three impression, each progressively shallower/less marked, as the foam began to cool.
this demonstrates the limitation of the material. To re-heat it wold have removed all three impressions and returned the foam to it’s original unmoulded state, so the only way to produce relatable multiple impressions is to have multiple patterns.
SAMPLE 23: Homemade paperclip print block
This was the same print block that I had used in samples 3a)-c) and sample 19. I used a thick piece of Softsculpt in black (the foam comes in black or white, being otherwise identical). I used the same methods as sample 18, pressing the pattern and foam between two wooden boards.
The sample is very impressive, with deep, well defined imprints, even picking up some subtle background texture of residual paint and glue (see below):


(Carton Pierre)

Having reviewed the types of papier-mâché and their recipes, I decided that it would be interesting to try and mould using Carton Pierre, which is supposed to be good for capturing fine detail in texture. The recipe was from the US (Hall, 2011), and I wasn’t quite sure what they mean’t by “joint sealer”. When I looked it up it appeared to be a type of mastic, however, I wasn’t sure whether it was the flexible (polymer) type of sealer, or just a powdered filler. Other sites mentioned whiting or plaster, so I decided that the general purpose powdered DIY filler which I had would probably work. I didn’t work to the exact recipe or quantities in Hall’s video, but I mixed until I got a consistency which looked right. 
The ingredients/method used were as follows:
  • 1 toilet roll, shredded and soaked in water for about half an hour.
I then took batches of the shredded paper and lacerated them in a blender, before squeezing out the water with my fingers. I then put the pulp in a bucket and added the following:
  • About half a large yoghurt container (500g size) of PVA glue
  • About half a large yoghurt container of flour
  • About 2 tablespoons of linseed oil
  • About half a large yoghurt container of of made-up general purpose DIY powdered filler
I mixed all these ingredients with my fingers to make a formable pulp. I used “Papermaking techniques book” (Plowman, 2001), for ideas, included press moulding (Plowman, 2001: 58-61) and casting (Plowman, 2001:66-75).
  • Cost: Cheap, and all the ingredients are readily available household items.
  • Ease of use: Not difficult, however fiddly, time consuming and messy. It takes several days to dry completely.
  • Reproduction of surface texture/detail: Surprisingly good, but my Carton Pierre did have a bumpy and cracked surface texture of it’s own. This could probably be reduced/eliminated by changing the ratios and adding a greater content of DIY filler.
  • Handle: Rock hard and tough.
  • Potential for colouring and working: Can be drilled. Varnishing is recommended to ensure that it is sealed against the uptake of moisture from the environment. It may also be painted.
SAMPLE 24 Sweet packaging

Sample 24a) Chocolate packaging:

I rubbed the inside of the packaging (see below) with Vaseline as a release agent before pressing the pulp down firmly with my fingers and leaving it to dry.
I made just one mould to see whether the paper pulp would hold together with such a small item. It did, and the texture makes the sample resemble a sweet made from dedicated coconut.
In a larger piece several of these could be made and arranged to form a repeating pattern, perhaps being contrasted against a textured fabric background, such as fur fabric or artificial turf. This idea was prompted by the piece “Loosing touch with reality” by Susan Benarcik (Benarcik, 2015). In this piece, I liked her use of contrast between smooth plaster casts of hands and rough texture of the wheatgrass. For my samples I “buried” them in artificial grass, instead of letting them hover above as Benarcik does (see below, samples 24a) and 25)
Sample 24b) Turkish delight packaging:

Using the same method as sample 24a) but with a small textured sweet tray (see below):
The mould was great, capturing all the detail. However, the shape, size, texture and the smell of linseed oil reminds me of those pre-formed birdseed “cakes”.

SAMPLE 25: Heat formed blister packaging
This packaging was from a toy figure and gun which I gave my son form Christmas. It made an excellent ready-made mould. As before, I smeared the inside with Vaseline before pressing the pulp into the mould with my fingers. I left the moulding to dry completely over several days before removing it from the blister packaging.
The finished samples are shown below:

Sample 25a) Gun:
Despite being quite thin and narrow, than sample came out well.
Sample 25b) Robot:
Also a good mould.
SAMPLE 26: Polystyrene meat tray
The meat tray had an interesting diamond relief pattern (see below). I used the same method as for sample 25, pressing the pulp into the mould.
I was a bit hasty removing the sample from the tray, and because it was not fully dry, one of the edges crumbled. The sample is very tactile, and I like the fact that not all of the diamonds are perfect. There are lively shadows.
SAMPLE 27: Press mould of child’s toy
First I pressed some of the Carton Pierre into a flat slab with my fingers. I then used a plastic toy spanner to make an impression in the surface. I removed the toy when the moulding had justed to set.
Traditional papier-mâché:

I tore strips of paper and wetted them with a mixture of 2 parts PVA glue to 1 part water. Prior to moulding, I applied a layer of vaseline to my mould, as a release agent. I then built up layers of paper to mould my surface (about 3 in total, working at right angles too the previous layer for strength). The samples were left to dry thoroughly before removing the mould. It’s worth noting that there are other ‘glue’ recipes, however I chose PVA rather than wallpaper paste or flour because I wanted a tough, translucent finish.
  • Cost: Cheap. PVA glue is cheap and type of paper can be used (although thin paper works best)
  • Ease of use: Not difficult, but fiddly, time consuming and messy. It takes several days to dry completely.
  • Reproduction of surface texture/detail: Good, however where the paper joins and wrinkles there will be some surface texture. A completely smooth surface is difficult to achieve. 
  • Handle: Hardened tough and shell-like.
  • Potential for colouring and working: Although coloured paper can be used, I have found that the dye often runs when it gets wet. My preferred solution would be to apply acrylic paint or varnish when dry. Ink stains may also be possible. It is easy to puncture, cut and fold a papier-mâché shell, if desired.
SAMPLE 28: Balloon mould
I used a ballon and a mixture of plain newsprint and white tissue paper to make the shell. I like the fact that there were both opaque and translucent areas –  see below:
When lit in natural daylight the ball also looked attractive (see below):
It was generally quite tough, although it could be cut or torn and it was possible to push and deform areas with the hands, if desired. Another aspect of this sample which I like is the attractive surface texture (close-up below):
It reminds me very much of a skull. I decided to sacrifice this sample for some further tests, so it no longer exists in it’s entirety. I have developed this idea further in my sketchbook (see pages 33-41).
SAMPLE 29: Moulded bubble-wrap
I used a curved piece of bubble wrap as my textured surface and I applied tissue paper only, using the method described above. The finished mould was crisp and delicate, translucent and with a shiny surface. Being made of tissue it was lightweight and bendable.
****** The experiments are continued in the next blog post (blog post 2) *****

Bautista, T. (2014) Printmaking unleashed. Blue Ash, Ohio. North Light Books. 
Beach packaging design (2015) Christo’s early wrapped cans and bottles. At: (Accessed 1 February 2017)
Benarcik, S. (2015) Susan Benarcik: Loosing touch with reality. At: (Accessed 4 March 2017)
Brooks, N. (2005) Moulding and casting. Marlborough. The Crowood Press Ltd.
Christo (1960) Surface d’empaquetage [user generated content] Creat. Arte tivu. At: (Accessed 1 February 2017)
Hall, J. (2011) Papier-mâché and paper clay. At: (Accessed 9 January 2017)
Hedley, G. (2004) Surfaces for stitch: plastics, films and fabrics. London. Batsford.
Plowman, J. (2001) Papermaking techniques book: over 50 techniques for making and embellishing handmade paper. London. Quarto publishing.

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