About Papier-Mâché …

Geoffry Sprague's online portfolio of clay and paper mache sculpture. Geoff Sprague, figurative, art, contemporary, sculpture, paper mache
Geoffry Sprague's online portfolio of clay and paper mache sculpture. Geoff Sprague, figurative, art, contemporary, sculpture, paper mache

I make papier-mâché sculpture out of household printer paper and shredded junk mail, which adds a material intimacy to my work. My sculpting compound is made from paper pulped in a blender and mixed with flour, joint compound, white glue, sawdust, linseed oil, preservatives and buffers. I vary the formulations for differing purposes. The resulting mix has a low toxicity that will keep indefinitely in cold storage. When fresh the media works a bit like spit-wad putty, but hardens into a strong, durable, lightweight material that looks variously like stone or bone and can be cut, tooled, drilled, sanded, painted or stained like hardwood.

 

I form sculpture from this compound by pressing it into molds or by hand-building it into free forms or over armatures.

 

I also sculpt papier-mâché forms using the traditional method of pasting multiple layers of paper into molds or onto forms which may include sculptures made of plasticine. Once hardened, I remove the paper shape and assemble multiple shapes into the desired sculpture. Finally I detail it with paper-based sculpting compound and mixed media, and then paint it.

 

Each piece poses unique technical challenges.This problem solving can be one of the most enjoyable—and frustrating—parts of the process. Because of this, I give significant thought to construction considerations while sculpting. Because my work is painstakingly slow, it can take many months to bring a piece to completion. However, it is worth the effort when I see people enjoying my art made from junk mail!