Paint It Whatever Color

Papier-mâché is an interesting looking word if you spell it with the French accents. There’s something both gratifying and disgusting about the process of creating it, though. Although I am far from fastidious in my personal habits, I despise being actively, tackily sticky or dirty, particularly when it involves my hands and arms. But for certain things, like baking bread or making papier-mâché, I’m willing to make an exception.

Family photo, Montezuma Castle

Family photo, Montezuma Castle

The 9-year-old came home a couple weeks back with an assignment to build an ancient Indian dwelling based on the design of some group of people who lived in Arizona, and her first choice of dwelling was Montezuma Castle, the most striking ruins site we visited on our recent tour of Arizona. Immediately, my brain started kicking the idea around. How could this idea come to fruition?

Papier-mâché was the answer.

I can’t really count this piece as my art. I designed it, and I told the kid how to make it, and I made her do most of the work—say, about 90%—without my interference, although I did come to her rescue when something was beyond her ability, and I stepped in for some of the fine detail work: cutting windows out with a scalpel, the parts that entailed using India ink, and placing the buildings in the cave. I also mixed her paint colors. Otherwise, she was in charge of creating this thing.

This seems like a pretty successful project to my eyes!

Montezuma Castle, executed in paper and paste: probably the best ancient Indian dwelling in all of 4th grade.

 

I confess that she was having so much fun painting that I couldn’t stop myself from helping. Anyway, it was getting late and she’s so meticulous and I needed to clean up and make dinner. I especially love the little accents I did on the front when she pointed out the real cliff had a lot more texture. I love painting and am certain that I would not suck at it if given half a chance.

Later that night, after the kids went to their mom’s, The Man was fooling around with the leftover materials, specifically the other half of the balloon shape we used to create the cave.

The other half of the cave. Note its specific shape.

The other half of the cave. Note its specific shape.

“It fits perfectly on your head,” he declared after determining that it was too small for his gigantic noggin. Then he stuck it on my head. In fact, it did fit perfectly.

Now, if you’re like me, in the sense that you really like dragons, and art, and the Internet, and have a lot of friends, you have probably seen/been sent this time lapse video of papier-mâché dragon being built. While I am not as good as the professional guy in the video (yet), I am not bad either, and after the second time the video appeared on my Facebook feed, and after wearing this paper hat around for a while, I decided to create a dragon hat. Yesterday I started the horns; today I hope to finish them and affix them, and then turn my attention to the problem of building something to fit over my head when I haven’t got a mold of my face and I’m not willing to get flour paste in my hair.

Of course, now the girl wants a Maleficent headdress  executed in the same style.

Since I didn’t really show you any of my actual work today, here’s another picture from earlier in the year, which was a request from some good friends who were getting married and wanted an agave sign for outside the venue. Aside from the Trickster’s Hat stuff, it’s really the only painting I’ve done in a long time. I’d love to learn more about the craft.

Their colors were springtime green and bubblegum pink.

Their colors were springtime green and bubblegum pink. It was windy on the hill; here we see the “ring bear” affixing the sign to the easel to keep it from blowing away.

 

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