Monday, May 31, 2010

Made in Maine: Paper Mache by Jackie Wildes

  I was familiar with making chalkware rabbits and St. Nicholases, but not paper mache.  So I got in touch with a paper mache artist for some pictures and tricks of the trade.
  Jackie Wildes lives in Maine and works full-time.  She started making chalkware about 6 years ago but has been enthusiastically painting and making things since she was a young girl. Selling her paper mache on ebay is part-time and a passion.  Jackie like to work with new reproduction molds that are clear and easier to work with.  I've done that too and believe me it's much easier when you can see air bubbles before you unmold your piece.  It's less expensive to get started too.  Antique molds are very dear and becoming dearer by the day as more people discover them and want to collect.
  "Here are a few tips- Spray a thin coat of cooking spray in both sides of the mold and lightly wipe them with a paper towel. Mix the paper mache (craft stores sell bags of the dry paper mache or a paper mache compound called Sculptamold which I like because it does not shrink) with water using enough water to get a meatloaf mix consistancy. Fill both halves of the mold and try to press out most of the air bubbles. Using an old credit card plane the surfaces so both sides are flat and put both sides together so they line up and next clip the sides together using strong stationary clips. It will set and become firmer in about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the size of the mold and and the humidity. Once it is set carefully pull the molds off the piece. Using a flat edge clay tool scrape off any of the paper mache that may have oozed out of the seams and fill in any holes that will appear using a small batch of paper mache and the clay tool. Once the piece is molded let it air dry .

Painting is the fun part of the process. I use acrylic paint and depending on the piece I use a sealer or use decoupage glue with a dusting of glitter. If I want to get a real vintage look I apply a coat of stain and wipe it off to age the piece."

   Jackie's tips really make me want to try casting paper mache. And if you try it yourself you will appreciate the work involved, from mixing, to casting the figure, to painting, glittering and choosing just the right accessories for the piece.  I especially like her pieces like the snowman where a little winter vignette was created.
  You can find Jackie on ebay under the ebay seller id jacksonrackson in case you'd rather forego the work involved and buy one of these pretty pieces.

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