Monday, August 3, 2009

Paper Maché

A couple of summers ago, at the downtown Saturday farmer's market, I saw a booth that had gigantic windmill flowers. ~3' across, mounted on old bike rims... like gigantic floral pinwheels. I was smitten with them.

And I've continued to think about them over the intervening months/years. I knew I wanted to make some. (I have a short article on welding equipment in one of my many piles of papers at home, and have talked to people about how to do it.) But as in intermediate step, I got it in my head that I wanted to try a stationary one out of paper maché.

So during Staycation, I spent the better part of 2 days, building a wire and hardware cloth frame for a 4-petal thing that I intended to be a squash blossom. By virtue of the materials I had on hand, it came out much more like a lily, so we're going with it. grin. But after getting an initial coat on it, I realized that it needed another ring of petals to fill it in and give it a pleasing overall shape. So the project doubled on the spot.

This time I bought chicken wire & tried that. And boy have I been surprised. The two kinds of frames are very different to work with. (Who would have thought?!) Suddenly, I had a whole different set of problems. All entirely unforeseen of course. I mean, paper mache is for elementary school kids, right? {Hmm.}

This past weekend, I added more layers to strengthen the original set of petals. And battled getting a cover coat onto the contentious chicken wire bunch.

Late Saturday afternoon, I came in grumbling. "I suppose I'm so out of sorts," I said, "because this ended up being a real relationship." (Art. Creativity. Commitment. New skills that I have to practice.) I think I originally was just looking for something fun to paint with the acrylics left over from our wheelbarrow makeover... in that sense, it got way-way out of hand.

Worked on it from 10am to 3:30 Sunday; was starting to attract flies. Tickly little feet all over me; my hands too goopy to swat them. Ardently wished for a tail. By the time I finished, I had flour splotches everywhere... up to my elbows, on my legs, on my shorts and shoes. Ayeee. Have used an entire 5# bag of flour. And since they have to dry inside, poor G is tripping over them trying to get to the pantry shelves. I want to brag that G is being a very good sport about all this: helping mix goop and hand me paper strips, and bringing me a drinking straw for my water glass. (Hard to drink when your hands are dripping wheat slime.) She keeps saying how nicely they are coming along--even when I know full well that they look like something that escaped from a neighbor's trash bin on Thursday mornings.

As you can see from the dog's expression, while she and her rangy sister like the company outside, the overall project is thoroughly baffling them.

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