Wednesday, April 1, 2015

2nd Grade Paper Mache Animals (continued)

Once completed with the armature (the "bones" of our animal sculpture), students can begin the paper mache part. This can be incredibly messy, but most students thoroughly enjoy this step. Another discussion we have during construction of the armature is stability. We really want our animal to be able to stand on its own, so we need to work through any problems, such as the example below where the head is too heavy and the animal falls forward. Most everyone is ready for the glue step now.

Unbalanced armature falling forward.
To begin each class period, I review the following steps with students;
  • Tear up newspapers into approx 1" to 4" wide strips, tearing with the grain of the newspaper to make it easy. 
  • Apply the paste, or goo as we like to call it, to the newspaper. There are two different processes: Most dip the strips in the goo, then use fingers to "scissor-off" the excess paste. It’s important to get the drips off or there will be way too much paste and take forever to dry. The 2nd option is to dip their FINGERS in the goo, then rub it generously on their palms. They touch a newspaper strip to pick it up, and rub it between their palms until it is translucent or saturated (both good vocab words).  
  • Place the strip on the project and give it a massage. They love this. I have them massage the whole animal. This process makes sure you don't have huge oozing masses of goo that take weeks to dry, but insures that enough goo is in the paper to make it dry firmly and strongly. I use "art paste" that comes in a little box and makes 4 quarts. Unlike wheat-based products, no one should be allergic, it doesn't itch if it dries on your skin, and it can be stored indefinitely without going bad. Maybe it's not the strongest product available, but it certainly makes doing paper mache with kids very easy! Each table section is assigned one ice-cream bucket of paste. 
  • At the end of class, students must toss wet newspapers in the garbage and not save in the newspaper tote for fear of making a sticky mess for the next class
This is the paste I use. I mix in a blender to get out any lumps.

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