Author Topic: paper mache  (Read 5880 times)

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paper mache
« on: Sep 10, 2008, 08:34 am »
I haven't used paper mache since kindergarden, and then I think I just ate the paste, but I'm producing Peter Pan this Fall and I though it might be an inexpensive, yet messy way to build the Lost Boys underground home.  I built a prototype "rock" out of 2X4, plywood, chicken wire, and paper mache.  It looked pretty good in the end.  Molding cloth looks cool but expensive.  Can any of you offer other ideas?

Thanks in advance.



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Re: paper mache
« Reply #1 on: Sep 10, 2008, 11:11 am »
You may want to experiment with inexpensive muslin or burlap. Put the material over your wire and use a watered down glue to adhere it. You can then paint over the material. A cloth cover will give you a little more durability as opposed to paper and glue.


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Re: paper mache
« Reply #2 on: Sep 11, 2008, 04:31 am »
I'd check out some blue foam (link below).  The link is for 1/2", but you should be able to get 1" or 2" pretty easily.

You're able to glue multiple sheets of it together pretty easily to achieve your desired thickness.  Best way, in my experience, is to throw some liquid nails between each sheet then stage weights on top to keep pressure. 

Once the adhesive is set you're free to cut it into any shape necessary.  It's much cleaner and neater than paper mache, will hold up much better, is exponentially more malleable, and is much easier painted, decorated or textured to what your specific application calls for.

One possible way to create many bricks!
« Last Edit: Sep 11, 2008, 07:16 pm by kmc307 »
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Re: paper mache
« Reply #3 on: Sep 11, 2008, 06:08 pm »
Agree with kmc. When I did Peter Pan years ago, they actually used blue foam for the lost boys hideout. It looked great and is so easy to shape.


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Re: paper mache
« Reply #4 on: Sep 11, 2008, 08:31 pm »
I prefer to use unbleached calico [muslin in your currency] rather than any type of foam.
In fact I avoid using any form of Styrofoam, to the point of chucking out in the rubbish bin/skip. Being a Petrochemical product, it is  a fire hazard & it will perpetuate it's own flame.
I know it is widely used for building insulation & a lot of other things.
However think about it &/or do a a quick fire test, using a lighter on a small piece, as it is up to you & your own risk assessment;-
Tio Tio Chookas
{May you always play to a full house}
'Hear the light & see the sound'


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Re: paper mache
« Reply #5 on: Oct 16, 2008, 10:47 am »
sgustafson, have you begun this production yet?  If so which option did you go with for the lost boys hideout? 

Also, JMC, I read your post and I'm not sure the nightclub fire you mention is particularly relevant to this thread.  I studied this event exclusively in class as it happened while I was in college.  The foam that caught fire in the station night club was actually acoustic foam, not blue foam.  The source of ignition was pyrotechnics.  The placement and use of the pyro was incredibly negligent, which is what lead to the fire.  Also, I didn't remember blue foam burning so readily (have actually done a flame test on it some years ago).  I did a little bit of research and here's what I've found.  Keep in mind these ratings are by US organizations and to US standards, I'm not sure how it would stack up to your specific location (If you're actually outside the US).

Here is the Material Safety Data Sheet for "Blue Foam" that is used by many theatres.  Reading all of the information below, it's fairly clear that blue foam will not actually perpetuate its own flame.  That is not to say, however, that it won't burn if there is a steady source of flame.  Though the foam has a flame-retardent additive, of course it's still going to burn under certain conditions, just as wood, muslin, or any soft goods in a theatre would burn.

Under the regulatory information in Section 15 where all hazards, including fire, are required to be listed the msds reads:
SARA HAZARD CATEGORY: This product has been reviewed according to the
EPA "Hazard Categories" promulgated under Sections 311 and 312 of the
Superfund Amendment and Reauthorization Act of 1986 (SARA Title III) and
is considered, under applicable definitions, to meet the following
Not to have met any hazard category

The definition of "fire hazard" for the purpose of msds disclosure reads "A chemical that is likely to burn or support fire". 

Also, the NFPA ratings are below.  Have taken the numbers from the msds and the explanation of each number from NFPA's website.

NFPA (National Fire Protection Agency) ratings
Flamability: 1.  "Must be preheated before ignition can occur" (The only lower rating is 0, which reads "Materials will not burn".  So basiaclly anything we use in theatre will score at least a 1  ;) )
Health: 0.  "Exposure under fire conditions would offer no hazard beyond that of ordinary combustible materials."

I don't mean to take on any type of "I told you so" attitude, just want to make sure our members are receiving accurate information. 

As a side note to anyone reading this, generally I think it is a good idea to read the MSDS anytime you're working with a new or unfamiliar substance (especially any kind of chemical product).  It includes valuable information about how to handle the product, and any precautions you should take.
« Last Edit: Oct 16, 2008, 10:50 am by kmc307 »
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