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Hi,

I am working on a large scale sculpture about 5 feet tall and 31/2 feet wide. I will not be firing this piece ; will be air dried only. The life of the sculpture is expected to stay only for about 1.5 months 

I considered Laguna paper clay but availability and timing is an issue. I  have WED (Walt Disney modeling clay - wet) with me that I thought would use for this project initially.

Reading lots of posts about making your own paper clay and the advantage of green strength by using paper I am inspired to try making paper clay. 

I have  green blow in cellulose from Lowe’s that I want to use instead of bath tissue or newspaper.

My local ceramic distributor has OM-4 ball clay in powder format and can provide stoneware clay in dry powder format. I would like to get some advice on if one of these clays are better than the other. And any advice on how much cellulose / fiber should be added to the clay. I plan to rent a cement mixer to combine the clay and fiber. 

I plan to use the pillow case to filter / drain the water out. Is a plaster bat also required to get the clay workable consistency for handbuilding? 

Any additional inputs are welcome. 

Thank you in advance for reading my query and offering your help.

regards,

GR 

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I haven't worked with paper clay for a while but I can give my opinion of it.   The first batch I made was with some rag paper scraps that I had left over from college.   It worked fine but was a pain to make, the next batch I made I used a roll of toilet paper much easier.   A few years later I needed to make something with paper clay,   Laguna was making paper clay by then  so I tried it.   I liked working with it even better than the paper clay with toilet paper and it didn't spoil as fast as the ones I made.    I was only making a 5 gal bucket at a time because of the spoilage factor,  how much are you planning on making?      Denice

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I would  use the dry stoneware clay not the ball clay. There was a recent post on Ceramics Arts Daily about paper clay using cellulose fibre and the amounts here.  I would make up a bucket of it to get your ratio's right before mixing up a cement mixer full. The other thing you could do would be to use a drill with a mixer attachment  (like is used for cement mixing) mix up it 5 gallon buckets instead of the cement mixer. If you have the space for it what works for drying out the clay, after it has stiffened up a bit, is to put some large bath towels on an unpainted concrete floor, dump the clay onto that, and let it sit for the day then  flip it in half by lifting up the side of the towel, fold the clay onto itself then stomp on it, (with another towel on top), fold it over again and repeat. Drag the towel with the clay on it to a new spot of the floor. Since the concrete is absorbent it will help dry out the clay. Depending on your climate it should be workable after 2 or 3 days of doing this.  Once it's dried out enough that it doesn't stick to your hands then wedge it up on a piece of mdf clamped to a table top if you don't have a plaster wedging board.

Welcome to the forum.

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The only thing I'd add, and this is more for future readers of this thread than the OP, is that using cellulose attic insulation is only a good idea if you're not firing the stuff afterwards. 

Attic insulation is treated with fire retardant, and therefore adds extra nasty fumes to the burnoff. Extra attention needs to be paid to ventilation when bisquing paper clay.

 

 

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Thank you Min, Denise & Callie for your inputs.  I will bear in mind the tips as I work on the paper clay. Since I last communicated the size of the sculpture has been revised to 3.5’ height instead of 5’. 

Would it be ok to mix cellulose with wed clay ( wet) since I already have it with me. In the past I have made a similar piece with Amaco’s self hardening airdry clay. 

Is it necessary to add cellulose at all for this project? If so, Can I just wedge in some cellulose in small batches as I work ? 

On 8/5/2018 at 9:20 PM, yappystudent said:

What are you making? 

I am making a sculpture  of Lord Ganesha; attached is an image if it  

Thank you all of your support and inputs. 

49B8038F-3463-47ED-9D40-25424765C8F6.jpeg

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You definitely need to mix your fibre with some kind of slip and let it dry out. Wedging is a no-go.  Adding the pulp will add strength to the unfired piece, so I think it's a good idea from a structural point of view.  Denice is right: do a small experiment with the paper clay. It is possible to get detail with paper clay, but it does require a slight adjustment in your working methods. Additive methods tend to work better than carving. Carving can be done, but your metal tools will get dull and the fibre will leave marks as it gets pulled out, so there's more cleanup if you want a smoother look. 

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Hello everyone!

Update -  we have decided to use only Wed clay for this project since  we are on a deadline and not have time for experimenting. 

I would like to know what is the ideal wall thickness to have when  using on a styrofoam armature. Right now we have about 1”   Wall Unsure  if it should   be more like 2” or less ? 

Also, can I leave in the armature? It will not be fired and the sculpture needs to be around only for a short period of time ( about 1 month).  Will there be too many cracks to deal with if armature is left in?

Based on the amount of clay used the sculpture already seems to weigh a lot!! Any ideas to reduce the weight? 

Thank you in advance for your time and advice.

GR

 

Edited by Vista

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Your piece will have a lot of cracks but I am not sure how you will get it out.   The only thing I could think of was cutting some holes in the piece you could patch and pour some acetone or gasoline in it to melt the styrofoam.    After you get the styrofoam melted you can cut parts of the piece off and clear out the excess clay and then put it back on.  I used to do this when I did life size portrait of people.   I only worked from the waist up, yours is much taller.    The head has a lot of clay  in it you can split it in half clean it out and put it back together.  You could probably take some parts like the trunk and clean it out from the backside .   Remember this piece is like a fragile building  you don't want to remove to many pieces at one time or you will have a collapse.   You may want to leave the lower part of the piece with thicker walls for support.  I hope this helps.   Denice

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Thank you Denice for your sharing your insights -  the upper parts like hands are going  to be built separately and joined with shoulders. So far we have built clay upto shoulders. My husband just confirmed ; the lower seat part has 2” wall thickness (upto waist) and belly, chest and shoulders have 1” . 

We are debating if we should build head separately and join. Trunk, ears, hands  will be built separately and joined .

My concern with burning  off with acetone or gasoline is the gases emitted during the process. I have a toddler at home.  Alternatively we were thinking of cutting patches and removing the styrofoam with hot knife . Will it be ok to leave the armature in? What is the worst case scenario I am looking at if armature is left in? 

 

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It will crack (may already have done). In future, do as concrete pourers do and cut through the body in logical places so that the clay can separate with your control. If you cover the styrofoam form with a few layers of newsprint first, (crumple first to make malleable) the clay will be able to move while shrinking without sticking to the styrofoam. Support heavy appendages with paper-covered rods stuck into the foam. That should last through the festivities.  

I have had success casting smaller detailed forms with paper clay slip into plaster molds.

Edited by Rae Reich

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I've never used paper clay and wonder if it would be something to try on my latest project (horse) apout 2f tall.  I know it's going to be really challenging to try it in clay. If not maybe I'll just do a sculpture and forget the clay for it.

Any ideas about feasibility?

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It’s funny you should mention a horse. The first time I used paper clay involved an assignment to build animal sculptures. Yes, it’s feasable. Paper clay allows you to build lighter and stronger pieces that don’t crack nearly as readily while drying, and pieces attach readily. The paper fibres will lend a lot of strength to a piece, at least until it’s fired. The fired piece will be more porous.

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You glaze and fire paper clay to the specifications of the clay body that has paper fibres mixed into it. If you're making your own, you can have paper clay that fires to whatever temperature you like. If you're buying premade, just follow the manufacturer's directions. 

The paper fibres burn out at the same time that all the other organics do in the bisque. Because there's so much extra stuff to burn off, it's a very good idea to give the work some extra time and lots of ventilation to allow everything to clear out completely. 

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Hello everyone, 

Thank you for all your help with our project. Here’s a picture of the sculpture that was created. We ended up using  WED clay and using cellulose fiber paper clay  to fix the cracks. For the next project I am looking forward to working with  paper clay and paper mache technique exclusively .

 

The size of the sculpture is about 42” tall and was completely hand built and it’s called Ganesha

thank you ,

GR

 

8EE53ECB-6AEF-4E21-B984-AB30A902F7B0.jpeg

52D256F8-ECD8-4C8C-9940-F15BB206B80B.jpeg

Edited by Vista

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On 8/31/2018 at 4:47 PM, Rae Reich said:

It will crack (may already have done). In future, do as concrete pourers do and cut through the body in logical places so that the clay can separate with your control. If you cover the styrofoam form with a few layers of newsprint first, (crumple first to make malleable) the clay will be able to move while shrinking without sticking to the styrofoam. Support heavy appendages with paper-covered rods stuck into the foam. That should last through the festivities.  

I have had success casting smaller detailed forms with paper clay slip into plaster molds.

I will remember to try it out next time. Thank you

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On 9/5/2018 at 7:52 PM, Oldmuddy said:

I've never used paper clay and wonder if it would be something to try on my latest project (horse) apout 2f tall.  I know it's going to be really challenging to try it in clay. If not maybe I'll just do a sculpture and forget the clay for it.

Any ideas about feasibility?

Yes, I purchase paper clay from suppliers for large sculpture. It’s the best clay for it. mary Susan cate has an entire career from large paper clay sculpture

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