Papercrete, paperclay: experiments continue

I’m experimenting once again with papercrete/paper clay recipes. The last round I made, with just soaked, drill-blended cardboard and dry clay, seemed a bit sloppy and much too coarse in texture. Things I plan to try:

1) Grinding. Soak and drill-blend the chunked carton cardboard, then use the Cuisinart to attempt a puree. Think longingly of buying a commercial blender, such as this badass 1.5 gallon meat grinding one from Fleetwood. As a side venture, try my inherited hand-operated meat grinder on the slurry.


2) Blending with Binder. Once the paper-fiber slurry is ground as fine as I’ll be able to get it, try using the Kitchenaid mixer to blend in the binder. I plan to try using the powdered clay again, this time with the wood glue I have on hand.

3) Application. I’ll make some and just try it out, as I did before; but I’ll also try making an armature of something or other, and see how the slop does as a “skin,” per the technique of artist Jonni Good, below.

4) Finishing: I’d like to try rasping, filing and sanding some of the finished product. I would love to be able to contrast porcelain-smooth with pitted, mashed, and spread.

Questions in my mind: is the addition of a small amount of liquid detergent necessary? Will the paperclay mold? Is the addition of linseed oil necessary, once the paperclay has dried? Is the linseed oil necessary in the creation of its working qualities–smooth, frosting-like, as Ms. Good reports?

* * * * *

Ms. Good’s paperclay recipe:

  • Cheap toilet paper
  • 1 cup Joint compound from the hardware store (get premixed “regular,” not “fast set” or “light”.)
  • 3/4 cup Elmer’s Glue-all (PVA glue)
  • 1/2 cup White Flour
  • 2 tablespoons Linseed Oil or Mineral Oil (vegetable oil can be used, too, if you want)

As I’m interested in using material from the recycling depot–free, and plucked from the waste stream–I’m going to try using soaked and ground-up cardboard, the kind used to make egg cartons. I know that a fine texture is possible from cardboard, as Domingos Totora’s photographs show a pre-clay material that looks quite nice.

In Ms. Good’s recipe above, the flour, glue and joint compound all serve the same purpose, though with different textural effects: they act as a binder. Why have three binders? I’ll have to experiment with adding and omitting some of them, in different recipes, and see if it becomes clear to me.

Ms. Gold builds an armature and then uses the paperclay as a tough skin, rather than as structural material. This makes sense to me, given how the paperclay I made felt to work.

* * * * *

Addendum: a clear tutorial and examples of the delicious textures paperclay appears to love, by Erika Tatacs of Canada.



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