paper maché

computer printout paper is excellent Most directions for Paper Maché which I have encountered call for old newspaper. I don't like to work with it. Although it absorbs water or paste very quickly, the ink runs and it smells making it dirty and unpleasant to work with. I think because of the shorter fibers it also produces a weaker object. I prefer to use old computer print-outs or other bond quality paper. It's worth asking around to find sources ie: individuals or offices which generate computer reports on a regular basis. You can also save your own junk mail, meeting minutes and agenda's, used drawing paper, note books etc. Shredded paper is great to use as well.
The method I use most of the time is described in detail in Dan Reeder's The Simple Screamer - my favorite book on the subject. I tear strips or pieces of paper and dip one in the paste and apply it. Usually the next layer of paper I apply will be a strip or piece I have torn that is dry. The dry paper absorbs some of the paste slime, but also adds a bit of strength and helps it hold it's shape. Gradually I build up the piece with alternating wet and dry layers. When the work dries it will shrink and sometimes wrinkle. you can build it up more at this point and use drier paper to avoid shrinkage.

You may want to cut and form an armature or basic shape out of cardboard. In this picture I have cut the bottom and side piece for a little fish-shaped box. I'm putting them together with strips of paper dipped in the paste and smoothed over the joins on the inside and outside.

using cardboard shapes to begin form
crumpled paper as a form

You can also build up a form using shredded or crumpled paper - this monster head in the making was formed by spreading layers of paste soaked paper and dry paper over the mound of crumpled paper. After the layer had dried, more elements could be added. Usually I cover one side of the shape with the wet material and then prop it up to dry. When it is dry I can flip it over and apply wet and dry layers of paper to make the shell on the other side.

You can also build up a shape like this face by laying down a layer of shredded or crumpled paper

use more shredded or crumpled paper to build up a shape
layer with more wet paper smooth layers of paste soaked and dry paper to make a shell over the crumpled or shredded form

As you work and the wet paste spreads through the paper fiber - you can shape the form like clay

as the paste soaks into the dry filler paper you can shape it
you can build a project as big as you like, working in stages and letting them dry before continuing.

You can build as large an object as you like, working in stages and letting them dry out as you go along. For finer detail you can use softer papers like tissue paper or kleenex tissue

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