Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Body Double Part 4: Paper Mache Notes

I've put a few layers of paper mache on the corpse and started working on the spider too.  Learned a couple of valuable things in the process that I hadn't thought about before.  First off, paper mache is wet.  Yes, this is horribly obvious.  Also horribly obvious is what water does to newspaper.  On corpsy this wasn't really a problem.  He's pretty big and made of sturdy thick bits of paper so I didn't really notice what the mache was doing to the frame.  The spider though...yeah, that was a problem.  Those nice long, spindly legs soak up the liquid in the mache paste so fast that you start getting some interesting issues.  Like the legs bending on places that aren't joints, or the legs sagging in a direction you didn't expect.

I thought corpsy was going to be the one that took a lot of painstaking work.  Boy, was I wrong.  The first layer of mache on the spider was only done on 4 legs, all on one side.  As the legs soaked up water and they started to bend  had to do damage control and quickly.  Once that first layer of mache dries it should be OK to work with, but if it dried in the wrong position I would be stuck with whatever it looked like.  I looked around my garage and found some helpful bits.  I had some tile pieces from my kitchen floor and some paint stir sticks from when I painted the house a few years back.  The tile pieces are good sized, they aren't the little 3x3 tiles you see in bathrooms, they are closer to 12x12 and I have a number of 4x12 scraps left from fitting tile under cabinets.  I used the tile pieces to brace the spider feet to help the legs hold the position I needed.  Then I took some stir sticks and used them to prop up the legs that were trying to sag.  Sadly, once I got the braces in place there was no way to continue work on the spider.  The legs were so fragile that I couldn't work on them to secure them to the body even if they had wanted to cooperate.  Working on the other set of legs or the body was out too, it moved the thing around too much and would destroy all the bracing.

The other thing I learned, because I'm a moron and didn't think of it initially, is that flour can and will settle out of a mixture.  That's not really a problem if you make a single batch of paste.  On a double batch, though some extra stirring is necessary.  Otherwise you start out with something the texture of water and end with something as thick as fondue.  Also, you get stiff with a double batch.  All the leaning over really gets to the upper back if you're built disproportionately. Happily, a double batch is the most that I'll need.  It covers one side of corpsy and could do the whole spider if I hadn't had problems.

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