About two weeks ago I came to work, sat down and thought – I want to try something totally different from what I usually do. I had already made gift for few friends and decided that whoa! I now want to try something from all the pinterest pins I have been collecting.
It is interesting, by the way, that a lot of those interesting ideas that I’ve found going around there, I have found almost each and every one of them from the scout and pioneer books I collect. Yup, I collect them. All the ideas are there!
So, inspired by hope of trying something my great grandparents might have done in their youth, I chose papier-mâché! I chose not to make the typical version of glue-n-stick. It still seemed easy and the materials didn’t ask world tour to collect, so off I went!
The recipe asked for 1 part of paper powder (or mashed paper), 10th of it chalk and 10th of it of potato starch and 10th of that PVA glue. Now how hard is to mix together a dough and cover a balloon with it?
To start with, I got the chalk from the shop next door. I love the natural building material shop next door! Any of those chemicals you need for go-green projects? Right there! For someone, who has had to search borax from gardening shop and camphor from music shop, it’s like dream come true. My green witchy life just got much easier.
Second thing was to get some old glue-free newspapers and shred them up, which was nice thing to do after hell-bound night at work. I didn’t know how much I’ll need, so I figured I’ll do measuring later. I poured it all over with boiling water, covered it with pellicle (that’s the word for plastic foil?) and wrapped it in towels and set it down on the warm bathroom floor.
After next nightshift, that would be 18 hours later, I started the boiling process. My giddy arsh! I know newspaper is trash, but I had no idea it is SUCH trash! The paper didn’t boil soft! After half an hour per pot in full boil and it didn’t boil soft! All the instructions said it should look like smashed soup, yet mine was manna porridge with big junks. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the ink came fully off and stuck on anything you touched the paper with. The whole mess was worse than when I tried making the ink itself. Because it was hot ink, then you can guess how easy it was to clean.
Actually, after I discovered cold water, dishwasher mixed with hand washing soap and sponge with light grading effect, it all came away rather easily. The pot shined, too.
Ok, that part over, I squeezed the water out from the water. Because squeezing lava hot water had unwanted consequences, I mixed it again with cold water and then did the squeezing. This gave me junk-like mix. The pioneer book then told me to roll it all up in small pearls so it can be retried and rebound to powder, but after three hours of pure bliss of cleaning all that mess, I honestly didn’t want to hear about it. I did get the junks as small as I could make them.
Instead, I mixed it as the book suggested, with chalk, starch and glue. After five minutes of kneading I finally did get the dough-like mixture. Sort of.
When I tried to place it on the prepared balloon (taped to water filled glass to anchor it to place), it didn’t stick. COOOL!!!!! What was I suppose to do with bowl filled with that mass if it didn’t stick!
Easy! Oil in a glass bowl and cover that one instead! With all the frustration that already had gathered in my system – that turned out to be the most calming thing I did that day. Besides sleeping afterwards. Three hours of pure bliss kneading that mash on that bowl piece by piece. What I did like about that mix was the way I could take hours later piece of it and instead of adding extra glue, I could simply knead it through again and continue. Now that was cool! The sad part was, there were many cracks in the piece. But by that time I had put too much work into it to give up on it, so I took the PVA and simply painted the entire bowl from outside using my fingers as brushes. Didn’t want to lose any of my precious brushes. With PVA you can at least wash the glue off your hands with hot water later.
Then I left it to dry with harsh promises to cut off anyone’s hands who dare to touch it. Which, of course, humored my family to great deal.
After four days I finally dared to take it off the glass bowl. But hey, fool is the man, who believes the hardships are over before they really begin! It would not budge. So how do you get paper mash off the glass without breaking either of them?
Hot water, of course. My biggest fear was I would melt the entire thing, but I discovered that if it was done with care and in short sessions at time, it works quite well. The process is simple – pour the hot water in the glass bowl and nudge the paper carefully off. Took some time, but I got it off. Getting the glue left on the glass off was easy.
As the last effort, I covered the entire inside of the bowl with PVA and let it dry again for several days with promises of harsh penalties.
Paper mache bowl with quills eggs
After all this effort, I can only say one thing. The entire process, even without rolling the balls into pearls and drying- powdering them, is painfully time consuming and the cleaning is not worth the object it creates. The other papier-mâché methods are easier and friendlier for modern kitchen. Or any kitchen in matter of fact.
Though I believe it does have merit if used paper powder, I don’t think the process needed to make the powder at home is worth the trouble. Perhaps if I had different equipment it would be different story (they say old blenders do miracle on the matter and if I get one, I’ll give it a new try). I do think it is good project for school children. But, as a grownup, if I’d need a light bowl for some reason, there are far easier basket weaving methods. Perhaps if I need something for witchy stuff… It is sturdy enough to hold dry things and quite heavy things.
Next thing – green house chemistry! The vinegar infused with orange zest has been on the shelf for two weeks and waits to be filtered and this means the half liter bottle is free and I can mix the first experiment of home made laundry detergent. I’m not making big patches at a time. I first want to see how it works. If it works, then it will definetly be part of my future household staples.