I start each piece with a vague idea of what I want to make. I put certain shapes of paper down with the intent of creating a bump, ridge, or texture. As I go along, however, the piece takes me in directions that I hadn’t thought of initially. This was certainly the case with my very first attempt at using the recycled paper package inserts on a board substrate. The exception being that I had no idea what to do with this experimental medium. I was dissatisfied with the final green finish, second paint with embellishment image below, so I took it a bit further. I painted the whole thing with gesso and started over with the painting process. First, I started with a black wash, then dry-brushed with off-white that I mixed. I liked the white stripes that I used on “Number Six”, so I used it again here. I later added the cadmium orange center inside of a black circle, inside of the metal embellishment. This works for me, and I like the finished piece.
This piece started out with two windows cut into the extra thick corrugated cardboard that was mounted on the board substrate. Once I overlayed my handmade paper, the cutouts were a bit offset, so I decided to cut out one long rectangle. I had intended to add texture inside the rectangle, but I remembered this piece of thick paper that I had made while experimenting with papermaking. I cut it down into two pieces that would fit snuggly inside the rectangle, and there we are. I’m very happy with the finished piece.
Evolution of process
I initially started each new work by tearing and cutting pieces of paper to fit like a puzzle. I’d pin the pieces to the board substrate to keep up with where they should go. I’d work from one end, gluing each piece down, wetting and sculpting it into place. This was great for speeding up the entire process, but there was a greater possibility for pieces to slip around while I worked on an adjacent piece. This was aggravating and I kept having to go back to make corrections. There had to be a better way.
I started gluing the paper down first and letting it dry completely before sculpting. I glue and clamp the paper to one side, or a portion of the surface, then let it dry overnight. I unclamp it the next day and let it dry further for about half the day. To get one piece completely covered takes several days, to a week, or weeks depending on the size and complexity of the build. This was just taking too long to get to the sculpting phase, so I started covering several pieces all at once. It still took as long, but I would have several pieces that I could work on much faster. I’m currently working on 13 pieces all at once. I add new pieces to the process as I get them mostly to completion and ready to sculpt. This while also working on finishing the sculpt and painting other pieces.
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Thank you for thinking of me
I’d like to thank Mark Buchanan, Michael Flowers and Bert Siarot, Timothy Holt, Patrick LaChance, Mark Picklesimer, Randy Purcell, and Curt Shephard and Mirchole from Freecycle Nashville for gifting me the paper package inserts for my work. I am so grateful for your support.