Paper-mâché Sculptures, 1982 through 1986
I created ten paper-mâché sculptures in the mid-1980s. I began with a copper wire armature on a wood base, and bent this into an approximate shape of the figure. The wire is usually double or triple lengths twisted to make the main wire stiffer. I used (tan) industrial tri-folded paper towels. I rolled them up tightly, and attached them to the armature with regular masking tape (not the blue painter’s tape). I fleshed out the figure to the desired final shape with these, and covered the whole thing with a layer of masking tape.
I used a regular cellular-based wallpaper paste mixed very thickly and stored in a jar with a screw-on lid. I took the folded up towels and tore them into narrow strips along the grain of the towel. Tearing along the grain produced strips about one inch wide. I used a clean, Styrofoam tray and laid a coat of paste on it. Then I laid strips of dry towels on the paste, and applied another coat of paste on top of the towels. I picked these up and started to apply to the form in overlapping layers.
Heads were roughed in with tightly compressed dry towels and tape, and the overall features were fashioned by pressing in on the towels with a dull stick or other tool. The head was covered with finer strips of the wet towels. Facial details were formed with twisted and shaped pieces of wet towels and tweezers. Fingers were formed with small, twisted and dried pieces of towel. These were wound with thin strips of wet towels, and covered with very small pieces of towel torn and applied with tweezers. When the fingers were thoroughly dried, I bent them into their final shape, and covered the resulting cracks at the joints with more very small pieces of wet towels.
Clothing was made from three to six layers of wet towels, layered in alternating directions. They were crumpled up, then opened and laid flat. This made the layered paper more flexible, and formed natural-looking creases when applied. A pattern for the pieces of clothing (shirt sleeve, pant leg, etc.) was laid over the towels and cut out. I crumpled it again, reopened it, and applied it to the body or limb.
This was bent into shape, and all of the folds you would expect formed naturally when the limb was bent. The seams were hidden with successive and smaller pieces of torn toweling. Other details were formed from wire, card stock or other materials, and covered with several of layers of wet pieces of towels.
The Pirate was donated to the Channel 2 auction, and all of the other sculptures are in private collections.
First Place, Raytheon Annual Art Show, 1982
First Place, Sculpture, 1984
Andover Art in the Park, Andover, MA
First Place, Sculpture, 1986
Andover Art in the Park