Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Dog Head

For this project we only had two weeks to work. I decided to try something new and experiment with paper mache clay. It is cheap, fast drying, and pretty intuitive to work with so I thought it would be a great 2 week project.

Still going with the kind of diet and junk food theme I have been doing this year in a couple classes I decided to grab an idea I had in my sketchbook for a wall mounted dog head. I had a couple reasons for choosing a dogs head. A dog can be trained to salivate on command (think Pavlov) using food. Every dog I have ever had has been rather food obsessed. I feel like we as humans can also be trained to want and enjoy certain foods through marketing, fats, sugars, and salts food companies are able to use our senses and instincts against us to choose food products to consume that may have no real benefit to our bodies. Like the dog people can be trained to impulsively go for the brightly packaged junk rather than what they really need.

I decided to mount a paper mache dog head to the wall like they do with taxidermy. This dog would have a wet looking open mouth with some sort of junk food inside or near it.

I started by cutting out a flat cardboard pattern of the profile of the dogs head.  I then crumpled up newsprint paper as "stuffing" for the armature that would be the dogs head. I used masking tape to hold down the newsprint bundles and kept adding chunk by chunk until I had the rough shape of a dogs head.  The newsprint and tape were not the easiest thing to work with as the newsprint wanted to unravel and the tape was not very sticky. I chose masking tape because of its texture. I needed a paper like texture in order to get the paper mache clay to stick. After a couple hours, many sheets of newsprint,  and two large rolls of tape I had a usable armature.

At home I mixed my paper mache clay. The clay is made using toilet paper soaked in water and then broken up into tiny pieces mixed with joint compound, glue all, flour, and boiled linseed oil. It has a thick dough like consistency. It also is a bit textured from the fibers of the paper. I burned up my hand mixer on the first batch and had to buy a new one to continue.

The first layer of clay I added to the armature did not stick very well. The tape was still a little to slick for it and the clay tended to glob up into chunks rather than spread smoothly. I laid it down as best as I could and let it dry over the next couple days.

The second and third layers were much smoother and easier to apply. The first layer was the right texture to allow the following layers to stick to it nicely. The clay was still a bit goopy and textured but I think that that is just the nature of it. Using a wet butter knife and my finders I was able to smooth out and apply layers until I had the general shape I was going for. I was able to add small details like a nose and an eyebrow ridge. It wasn't very possible to do intricate little details but the clay held larger shapes fine.


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