Paper Clay Recipe

As I have mentioned before, I first found the recipe on Ultimate Paper Mache, and saw it made by Chezlin. This is my method of doing it – in wonderful shades of yellow because our kitchen light makes everything that colour.

As a recap, the recipe is:

24 g of dry toilet paper, soaked to become 110 g

1/2 cup Elmers Glue

1/2 cup drywall compound

2 tablespoons of mineral oil

1/2 cup of cornstarch/cornflour

1/2 cup flour + extra to thicken and dust counter

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Donuts and coffee are not a part of this recipe, but are pretty good additions – just make sure to not get any clay on your food! (Oh look you can see the TV Mom’s watching a bit)

First, weigh out the toilet paper. It looks like a lot – I’d say about 1/3 to half of a roll? I suggest wrapping it around your hand as you uncoil it from the roll, so you can dump a roll onto it rather than loose sheets. Keeps it from falling off the scale.

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Once the dry amount is at 24ish grams, dump it into a bowl of water and squish down so everything is soaked. Tear apart with your fingers, and make sure everything is thoroughly wet. Then, start picking up clumps and squishing out water. I find I’ll get the majority of the TP out of the water and close to the 110 grams, then will drain out the rest into a strainer to get the little bits (as you can see below). Gather that, squeeze it a bit, and add it. Hopefully it’ll come to 110. If it’s more, squeeze out more water; if less, you may need to add water. I prefer to have it heavier because it’s easier to squeeze out water than it is to add since I usually have dumped it all down the drain woops.forms of tp.jpg

So as a comparison of weight difference….

drywet

Once it’s at 110 grams, toss it into your bucket or bowl. Now, you get to add the other wet materials!

wetshit

Mix that shit so it’s kinda vaguely together – it’ll be clumpy and gross looking. Then you start adding flour/cornstarch! I had poured a 1/2 cup of each into a bowl beforehand because I use the same cup for all of my measuring.

Stir it together. Initially, it’ll just be slightly drier form of clumpiness. Get it so the flour/starch mix is well intigrated, then add more flour until the mix starts pulling away from the sides and it wants to stick all together in a ball. Then, toss flour on your workspace and turn out the ball (take a moment to try and scrape any remaining bits from your bowl or bucket so you can get it all in there!)

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It looks a bit like pastry dough. Honestly, if you’ve ever done any baking, this is pretty similar to that! This is after a bit of mixing in the bits so it’s more of one ball. Keep kneading and adding flour whenever it starts sticking to you too much – use flour on your own hands to help prevent this. You may need to add flour to the counter as well if it starts sticking there. Just throw flour everywhere. I like to make sure even the cupboards are liberally dusted, because you just never know. (Also I’m messy)

Soon, you’ll have a pretty little ball!

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I do like my dough stickier, so at this point it sticks a bit and isn’t quite how other people do it. I toss it into my container and clean up at this point. At which point, those scrappy things and green scrubbies are your friend, assuming your workspace isn’t super easy to scratch.

medalsponge

He has been through some shit. I made him a little medal in Paint because he deserves it. (I tossed him out after this round, he was pretty done).

And there you have it! Paper clay! Now throw it at your friend, or make a penis out of it, or whatever you wanna do. Don’t eat it! Drywall compound and glue is not good for you.

All together now~!

Once I got home from my trip, I whipped up a batch of paper clay and attached the back fin. Not gonna lie, I have been itching to do that since leaving! I’m so excited to see it all together!

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There’s still a few little touch ups to do before painting – several on the bottom, and the occasional hole or rough patch on the rest of the body. This also includes finishing the back hole where the cord goes through, and removing the red tape I used to protect the cord and is visible once clay’d in.

I’m chomping at the bit to do the next part, but I am having to force myself to wait. You see, I want to do some paint swatches before I throw myself wholeheartedly into painting. My friend lent me some iridescent blue that is supposed to shimmer, and it’s best on light colours. I want to try it out on a few different colour schemes – black with the iri-blue, or maybe with white and another blue, before the iri-blue? You see, I haven’t decided what colours I wanted to make, only that I want that iridescent. I also want to see what it looks like, because I may decide against it after all.

Only a few problems, though:

  1. I lack many colours; I have only white, blue, purple, red, and two yellows. While I could mix things together, I really wish I had at least a black to try a base of pure black.
  2. I’m not sure if I want to sandpaper the body down before I paint. I hate sandpaper but maybe the look will be better.
  3. I have no idea where that iridescent blue even is. (Wow, who could imagine with that IMMACULATE CLEAN STUDIO losing something so small?!)

I plan to sit down with pieces I’ve made as try-outs to try out the colours. At the very least, I can get the base colours down and try sandpapering. It’ll be interesting mixing the paints (and then matching it and making enough for a full body ugh). Hopefully, that happens soon. Maybe Thursday (I wrote this that day before I touched any art stuff, and this will be scheduled for tomorrow.)

and the membrane connects to the… fin bone

I really don’t know fish anatomy, but sure.

So, somewhere along the line I was pretty much set on doing tissue paper for membrane. I had tried silver, but the one side didn’t glue on; the glue mixture instead beaded up and didn’t do shit all to anything.

SO. White tissue paper it was.Which, thankfully, I have tons from an event I had decorated for. 

The glue mix I used was vaguely 50/50 Elmer’s Glue and water. I stored it in a pill bottle I had running around, which worked pretty well for keeping it closed when not used and dipping into. I used a brush to apply it to the now-dried clay fins. 

The first time I worked it, I tried for one layer and found myself ripping through it. I would do ‘chunks’ of tissue paper ripped off and glued over the front side of the fin, crossing several ‘fingers’ at a time. Admittedly, I found myself disliking the process. I got so used to the willy-nilly that working with clay encouraged, and I hadn’t switched my brain to be focusing on the details. I was just trying to rush through, not enjoy the process. 

The second session, I started into it with a mind to enjoy the focus of small details. I had spent the week between sessions to consider why I disliked the process and result, and came to a few conclusions: my focus was wrong and I thought I should try stringing a long strip of tissue paper between the two nearest fingers, rather than chunks acorss multiple fingers. So, that is what I hopped into it doing, also going over the membrane twice with tissue paper to make it thicker. More importantly, I focused on enjoying the process of slowly placing the strips and glue on.

I much liked the result! 

I went in later to fix up that rip – this was the back fin, which I used the second process of stringing tissue paper back and forth. 

After placing on the membrane, I found myself with a conundrum. In one fin, I had the tissue paper over top – I had very carefully smeared paper clay over the fingers to hide the tissue. The other fin had the paper on the back, and there was a little gap between the finger and membrane.

I sent this picture in a group chat I had with several art friends and asked for feedback on which they liked better. The concensus was for the one on the left, which made my life easier. No need to make a whole new fin, just smooth paper clay along the fins and connect the fins to membrane proper. 

I really enjoyed working with the tissue paper, but with the delicacy it has – even now, after it’s dried and a bit harder, I worry for any possible rips and tears. It’s a good technique I’ll keep in mind in case of future projects that’d be useful.

(Also ‘membrane’ makes me think of this song: Frontier Psychiatrist by the Avalanches )

Fin-icky details

Hahaha I hate myself a little for that pun.

Today we talkin’ about fins, pals, and other fin-ishing details.

But not actually finishing because I still gotta do some other shit to my girl. I just wanted another pun.

So, on the actual body of the fish, I was doing touch-ups. Finding holes where the clay didn’t perfectly seam. Tidying up uneven spots with a bit more clay. Giving a handjob to her light rod to make it a bit bigger. Adding dimension to teeth. These little things that I had no idea I would later be writing a blog post about and thus took zero close up pictures.

I did, however, take pictures of my fins! That was a very interesting process, trying to figure out what the hell I was doing. First, wire fins:

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Oh my god, I hated this fin. I hated how annoyingly hard it was to make them – the paper tissue would not glue to the wire, and actually bending the wire into the shape I wanted proved difficult and very hard to make a second one. Plus, compared to an actual angler fish fin, did not have enough sticks (bones?).

So, that was tossed to the side. I instead decided to make ones where I used a drawn template and placed clay within this template to create the bones. This was the jackpot!

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This would eventually become one of the fins on my fish now. When it first was dried, I found that it wasn’t too hard to pull away from the parchment paper. I had flipped it over to allow the bottom to dry thoroughly, and laughed when I realized it had also pulled up the marker, and it was such an interesting effect. I also found that there was ‘crusties’, which I simply used one of my sculpting tools to run along the edges and scrape off.

This same technique, but with the parchment flipped over to create a reversed one, made a second one. I made the bones thicker this time because I had accidentally broken one of the bones of my original one and had to put paper clay on and let it dry again before I could work on it.

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Shit

Soon I had my two fins, and what beautiful fins they were…

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The next step to come would be getting the membrane on, so to actually look like fins. Before starting, I was super worried about this step. On Monday’s post, I will explain more. See ya then!

The Clayening of Angler Fish

Around this time, I had figured out my method of making paper clay, and how I liked to put it on. So, what better time to start my fishy?

angler fish session 1

I started on her eye and the side. I loved the bulging look, and just how weird they are. After all, fish eyes are really weird and why not go the extra mile? Generally angler fish eyes are a bit more set in, as the bulging is probably a bad idea, but eh.

I remember being super nervous as I smoothed out the paper clay, and realising that I had no idea if the second session would mesh, once the first was dry. I knew it would shrink; would this create ‘seams’ when trying to blend dry and wet?

angler fish session 2

The answer to “WOULD IT BLEND” was a “YES”. Not that the dry layer would moisten up again and blend that way, but you could smooth the new wet stuff over and blend it in that way. When dry, they wouldn’t pull away. So, after several batches, I finally got it mostly done, inserted her light, and sealed up her bottom.

Fun fact, tape is not strong enough to fight the pull of shrinking clay as it dries. I apparently did not take a picture of this, so I’ll try and explain it.

Over the hole that I had used to insert the light, which was about 3 inches by 3 inches, I put on red tape to give my clay a ‘bridge’ to dry on. However, the clay I had only covered like… half of the bottom? So I let it dry and when I returned to it a few days later, I found that the clay had shrunk and curled up (you’ll see this affect with my fins as well). The tape was pulled off, and I broke off several chunks of paper clay so I could make it even again.

Fun fact, breaking the clay with my bare hands was surprisingly difficult! This shit is strong as fuck, yo!

Once done the bottom, I cemented in the light bulb with very careful paper clay placement. In order for it to dry upright, I had to tie a string around the light and attach it lower down.

 

angler fish light installation

Up until now, I had been using entire batches of my clay at a time. Usually, that was how I signalled the end of a session – I was all out of clay. Near the end, I had actually made a double batch to allow myself a longer session.

After this, everything changed. By everything I mean I was in a different phase where I used less clay and focused on details. More on that, coming this Friday!

The Creation of Angler Fish

“Why did you decide to make an angler fish lamp?” you, the hypothetical reader, may ask. Also, my brother. I think I scared him when I showed the things I have done. (coughgenitaliacough)

Well. The short answer is, ‘iunno, seemed fun’. The long answer is, at work a lamp broke. Instead of throwing away the bit that makes a lamp a lamp (iunno what you call it – the wire with the bulb socket?), I took it with manager’s permission.

I spent a day thinking about it, and then went, hey aren’t there fishes with these lights on their head? A bit of googling brought up some images, and I was like, yup. This is what I will do.

So, with some old signage (also from work – it’s a trend I have, of taking garbage from my employments to make things), I made the angler fish.

angler fish skeleton

She’s beautiful. :’)

With her body created, I started layering on paper mache. This was last summer, by the way, so I got to let her dry outside! I miss sun… Also, the picture looks a whole lot better than when it was in the basement.

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(could’ve cropped it, but I wanted to show my pup. She liked it when I was outside all the time.)

I was very happy with how she was taking form, even though there was spots I had no clue how I was going to tackle when I got there (how does one fin?). Thankfully, I was smart enough to leave her with a hole in the bottom so I could put in her light – this wouldn’t happen until much later, when the majority of her body is clay’d up.

Next time, I’ll show you the claying process, which has been the longest part so far.

My Man

While I have worked with wire in art school, I have never used it solely to create an armature or skeleton for a sculpture – the wire has usually been the sculpture itself. So, this was somehing new I wanted to try.

So, I started. And because I wanted to be in my blankets, I did it in my bed. My only real inspiration was “I wanna do a human thing.” I think I chose the kneeling/waving position just because it was something different and extra challenging, particular because of balancing.

As a fun fact, I have anywhere from 4 to 8 blankets on my bed at all times
It’s really nice to do art in bed

That was quickly done; I then added my tinfoil to create the meat of it. I wore gloves because cuts are not fun and I get them enough thank-you-very-much. I used masking tape on top to give it a better surface for my clay.

Skeletons look odd without the meat so who knows if it's proportionate
Gotta hold his hand so he doesn’t fall over

Now to the fun part! I started applying paper clay. I thought, oh I could apply to the whole structure, and be done quicker. Except I realized, not really. I couldn’t find a good hold on the body without pushing my fingers into still-wet clay, or weirdly holding the one leg left. Then, when I decided I was done trying to juggle this shit, I realized he didn’t exactly lay anywhere safely. 
Eventually, I figured out a way to have him balanced between an old paint container and an ice cream bucket, which would later become his typical drying rack (picture taken from 3rd session because I forgot to take pictures before).

Somehow he doesn’t fall off

It took a bit of work to get him to balance when standing (kneeling, I suppose) on his own; with the first session, he was left very heavy to one side. The second session saw me managing to get him to balance. He can now stand successfully on his own, provided he’s placed just right and is never touched ever. This will be fixed, though I’m still working out particulars…

With the third session, I focused on giving his limbs the proper sizing and form. The first two sessions saw them being flat and muscle-less, more thin tubes than anything. So I gave his thigh and arm more shape, adding bulk to the upper parts and tapering down. As you can see, part of my sculpting included a focus on that ass. 

I think I need to even them out though?
DAT ASS DOH

I would like to finish this entry of the project in stating how proud I am of that butt. It is magnificent.