Large-Scale Paper Mache Projects

... Large-scale paper mache figures such as this giant Stephen Colbert, appear in protests, galleries and parades.

Paper mache is an artistic medium made from a combination of paper and paste or glue. When many people think of paper mache, they probably think of small-scale projects such as dolls, puppets, masks and figurines. However, paper mache is also useful for large-scale projects such as gallery-worthy sculptures.

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Types

Large-scale paper mache projects can take many forms. Some larger projects are created for personal projects, such as designer Robert Cockerham's life-sized Satan figure. Other large-scale projects have had public displays. For example, in 2006, Seattle sculptor Kim Graham created a 12-foot tall troll inspired by Norwegian folklore and the "Lord of the Rings" as a public sculpture. In 2008, artist Louie Rochon created a three-foot tall sculpture based on the Viewmaster toy for a presentation at a Colorado visitor's center.In 2009, artist Ricky Pattassini chose paper mache for a giant mask he created for a celebration of 19th century Canadian entrepreneur and politician David Oppenheimer.

Design

Extensive planning often goes into large-scale paper mache sculptures. For example, Kim Graham built a scale model of her troll before beginning the full-sized version. Robert Cockerham worked out the design for Satan's skeleton by sketching his idea over a photograph of himself. Louie Vochon worked from pictures of the Viewmaster toy and created detailed sketches of his idea before he went to work.

Support Structures

Larger projects generally need sturdier "skeletons" than their smaller counterparts. For example, when Louie Rochon created his Viewmaster sculpture, he built its skeleton from plywood, wire and foam board. Ricky Pattassini built much of his David Oppenheimer mask out of LDPE packaging foam. When Robert Cockerham created his Satan figure, he gave it a skeleton made from wood, chicken-wire and wire coat hangers.

Materials

Artist Kim Graham enjoys working with paper mache because it is inexpensive, uses recycled materials and doesn't require special safety equipment or extra ventilation. When Robert Cockerham created his Satan figure, he used newspaper strips and paste made from flour and water. Louie Rochon built his Viewmaster sculpture with strips of cotton cloth torn from old sheets, rather than paper, because he felt it would give the sculpture extra strength. He also lined the inside of the sculpture with a plaster-like material called Scultamold.

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