Sunday, August 30, 2009

Q&A: Clay Issues

Questions regarding my projects and papier mache regularly fill my mailbox. In an effort to answer these questions and share information some of these questions will be regularly featured on this blog.

Erik wrote:

“I have followed your instuctions on your website. However, the clay recipe is a bit tricky. It is now 6 days later and my clay is still not dry. Can you help me any? Maybe restate the recipe?”

Clay recipe:

My clay is made by putting approximately six cups of paste into a large bowl, next add approximately one cup of drywall joint compound to the paste. Mix the paste and joint compound together thoroughly with a hand mixer. Now start mixing cellulose fiber insulation into the paste/compound solution, keep adding insulation until the mixture is a firm and workable consistency.

There are several issues that determine the drying time of paper clays..

Th The first consideration is the thickness of the clay that is drying. When I use the above papier mache clay recipe I typically never apply the clay thicker than a ½ inches. Once dry I will add more clay and allow to dry and so on. Work with small amounts.

The second factor is airflow. Placing props in an area where there is no air movement is not a good idea. When drying papier mache clay I always use multiple fans, the moving air removes the moisture allowing a ½ inch thickness of clay to completely dry in about 48 hours.

The third consideration is humidity. Props left to dry in highly humid environments will not dry, in fact if you have used a flour based paste they could even potentially start to mold. Dry props in a non-humid environment with ample air flow. Dehumidifiers are a good bet when working in humid environments.

The combination of these three tips should prevent any drying issues; small thicknesses, airflow and low humidity. If you have further questions send me an email.

Hope this helps.

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