I developed this technique after recognizing the potential in the textures of molded paper package inserts. My creative lightbulb lit up and I got straight to work.
Paper preparation- I start by carefully cutting the inserts up into usable pieces and soaking them in water. I use a rubber mallet to flatten out the pieces in between two absorbent towels. This binds two or more pieces together as one sheet. I use the remaining trimmings also. I pull apart little bits of wetted paper with tweezers to build up areas and fill in gaps.
Substrate preparation- I prefer to use sturdy wooden boxes and artist panels. Any sort of wooden box works well as long as it is well made. Hinged boxes are perfect because the top and bottom provide two panels. I disassemble them, fill in any gaps left from removing the hardware, sand, and prime before each sculpt. I also build my own artist’s panels using recycled canvas frames and wood, or whatever quality recycled wood that I can find.
Sculpting- I use tweezers in a tapping motion to knit the paper fibers together when I want a smoother seam between pieces of paper. The entire process from the primer coat to gluing, sculpting, painting, and sealing require the proper drying time to ensure the stability of the finished product. Each piece can take several weeks depending on the size, substrate, texture, and paint techniques.
Finishes– I use muted color washes that I mix from acrylic paints. I use acrylic varnish to seal the finished surface.