How time flies…when life takes over!

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Yip, back from a rather long break. Life just sometimes happens and you end up wondering what the hell happened. Black hole of time…time is just sucked up into some mysterious vortex of confusion. So work happened, lots of it and so many birthdays in winter (in not so sunny SA) so weekends started disappearing at an alarming rate!

BUT…I am still into my art! Not all is lost. Started pottery lessons, well not exactly pottery although I had to make some pots to learn some essential techniques but the aim is to learn how to sculpture which as you may have gathered from my weird paper mache I am rather into. I will post my pics of the fired and glazed bits and pieces (coil pot and slab pot and soap dish) when its all done and dusted.

Back to paper mache…the agony without the ecstasy. Had to paint my “pieces” and thats where it went horribly wrong…painted the “pieces” several times and finally gave up and well, the result is as pictured below…I am not happy buy felt it was time to move on…need to find a style of painting my paper mache that I actually like. I shall persist.

I was also was given, recently, by my dear offspring, lots of bags of gritty clay which is so suspect that my pottery teacher will not fire it in her kiln. So I am now chatting to some African people I work with about simple techniques of firing clay in the fire. Most of the ladies I work with come from the Eastern Cape and they grew up making their own pots with the clay they found in their area..so I reckon they have to be the experts on this subject. They are going help me find someone who knows someone that can teach me all about firing gritty clay in the coals…should be fun – will keep you posted!

So also posted a picture of the first little gritty clay sculpture I did. Yesterday I started my first official sculpture at my pottery lesson (with proper non gritty clay) and so I am now happily creating in this space. Again, having to grasp techniques of working with the clay so my arty piece will not blow up in the kiln…I will be extremely unpopular if it does as when this happens you can ruin all the pots that are being fired.

So, although its been a long while I am still busy making (and hopefully baking without explosions) my mark in the world of art! Roll over Michelangelo, LOL!

Not sunny South Africa

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No, the sun does not always shine in Africa…Cape Town is chilly and wet, not exactly brilliant weather for drying my paper mache. Its taking days and days…and the only way to handle this is to keep making more so eventually you have many pieces in different stages of drying…a tip for those as impatient as I am!

And finally the penny dropped…

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Can you believe that it took me so long to figure out an easy way to squeeze all the water out of my paper pulp?  So there I was, pushing the water logged pulp through my kitchen sieve, which takes TIME, when I has a one of those rare light bulb moments…and so here is the EASY way of squeezing the water out of your pulp:

Find a old big piece of netting type material, place over a container and throw in your pulp. Gather up the top and squeeze…oh so so simple!

Rice paper mache !

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It works!! This is totally amazing…have I discovered something new? Probably not but this may be as new to you to as it was to me!

Someone mentioned that you can make glue from RICE…so I thought this would be ideal for more making my paper mache clay. If I used rice glue instead of flour perhaps this would make an even better clay! Somehow feels more traditional as I am sure the Chinese / Japanese never grew wheat, only rice…which means they had to have used this to make their paper mache?

You make rice glue by boiling up a sticky rice like sushi rice (or basmati) until it looks less like rice and more like porridge…you need to add more water than you would normally do. I just nuked the rice for just over half an hour, making sure I had plenty water in the bowl. Then into the blender (once cold) adding more water and blending into a thick “cream”…almost good enough to eat! Actually you can eat it… if you get hungry enough.

Then I made the paper mush as I have done before – boiling the paper and blending it into a pulpy mess with lots of water. After squeezing out most of the water from the mushy paper pulp I poured in some of the rice glue. (One cup of rice makes LOTS of glue; I stored the left over glue in the fridge, which according to wiki you can…for how long I do not know.)

The result was really cool and I think the best paper mache clay I have made so far…it feels divine and is a lot more smooth in texture than the other batches made with flour. What is really really cool is that this is totally ORGANIC paper mache…LOL! no chemicals at all (okay, added a teaspoon of bleach into the mixture to help it last longer…but I dont have to do that!)

I am going to test storing this clay in the fridge and see what happens…I must also try freezing batches…who knows, this may actually work.

I have tested the clay out on a few things and will see if this dries as well as the flour clay… I really hope so!

Another busy weekend

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New batch ended in distaster! Did not drain the paper too well and ended up adding far too much flour…the result was a sticky gooey mass of something… definitely not paper mache! So quickly pulped some more paper (and learnt that you do not have to soak and boil paper for hours) and added it to some of the goo…and the day was saved!

Started sanding today and guess what, it really works! Must be fine sandpaper and the result, with patience, is pretty cool.

Finally took out the paint and paintbrushes and started painting some of the dried items. I use acrylics and for anything white, plain old cheap water based wall paint… stronger and much much cheaper than acrylics…also helps seals the dried paper mache.

Also started varnishing an used clear spray paint, nothing special, just the normal cans of spray paints that you find in most shops. This is so much easier and quicker than using all the craft sealers…but those work well too.

So another busy weekend over.

Another fresh batch!

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Thanks to Vineyard Hotel & Spa who supplies me with my shredded paper, another batch is on its way.
Still sticking to paper and flour only recipe BUT adding in a bit of bleach to see if it preserves it for longer.
My other items are drying rock hard so happy with the final result of this simple mixture.
Just remember to add loads of water when blending so you dont break your machine…paper is a lot tougher than you think!

And a balloon takes life…

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And the clay works…amazing what paper and flour can do!
Now trying a bit of fun sculture…lets see how this ends.