Friday, 21 February 2014

About my paper technique

What is cartapesta?

Well, basically, it's italian for papier-mâché. But the technique I use for the masks was adapted, to give a better finish. When people ask how I make the masks it's always a bit complicated to explain that cartapesta is not exactly the most commonly known form of papier-mâché, which uses  pulp (paper dissolved in water to make a paste). It is actually made with strips, but still not exactly as you'll see on papier-mâché tutorials.

Most of the pulp and strip techniques you'll find online are quite messy. You have to use a lot of water, and a lot of glue, and lose a bowl forever by filling it with adhesive and macerated or striped paper. And have glue all over your hands through the whole process. That's a no no for me.

The technique I use I learned from the amazing mask maker Agostino Dessì. You can see pictures of the courses he gives on his facebook page.

So how is it done?

  • To start we need a negative of the form (a negative means it is a concave, you'll be seeing the inside of the form). It will look like this:

  • The strips are molded one by one inside the plaster. I use a squirt bottle to moisten them as much as I need before putting them down, so no big bowls full of water. After a few were adjusted to the plaster, I put on some glue with a paintbrush. It will start looking like this:

I was using used coffee filters for this one

  • After I completed the form I put on a coat of glue on all of it and let it dry

  • And voilá. When it's really hot I can take it out in about 5 to 6 hours, but usually I'll leave it overnight. After that it will receive a coat of glue on the outside, which was facing the plaster, and after a good dry my fingers will die trimming the edges and opening the eyes (the paper becomes so hard, you have no idea)

That's about it! Takes a long time of practice and experimentation, but it's a very nice technique that makes smooth, strong, and durable pieces.

Hope you enjoyed the post, and see you next time ;)

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Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Ground control to Major Tom

Alright, I'm kindda lost on writing blog posts again (got way too used to short facebook posts, it seems).
I decide to revive this blog, which I ended up abandoning for various reasons I don't even know when, so I could keep going with documenting the process, and have some place t put all that in.

This is something I actually posted on my facebook page in december and january, and shows the stages of the mask making after it comes out of the plaster mold.

So, the base preparation process: the first image is the progression of the base before painting, from when it leaves the mold to the final coating of acrylic plaster.

Building the base takes 3 to 4 hours (some less, some more. It depends on the details and difficulty of the form). When it's dry it is taken out and smoothed with a brush to get rid of any imperfections, and then it gets two coats of acrylic paste. After drying it gets thoroughly sanded, and finished with two coats of acrylic plaster. 

After this process, it is ready to be painted.

The painting process. It varies a lot. In the case of this specific mask I used a coat of white and then added the colour details, all in acrylics (you don't really want to paint mask with oils....well, at least I don't. It becomes a nightmare to hold them, and it will take forever to dry, since they have glue and will not absorb the oils)

After that there's the finishing touch. In this case I used a cracked finish on the white, and enhanced the cracks with black wax. After that it only needs a coat of varnish, and it's done.

On another topic, I'm going through a Bowie fase right now, saw an amazing exhibit on him and his career in São Paulo. Fell in love with this version of The Man Who Sold The World, too bad I couldn't find the actual video.

Thank you for reading, and see you in the next post!


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