Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dust to Dust

When I've sculpted hands or heads, such as the one for my Madog gravedigger prop, I've used a home-made paper clay from cellulose insulation. I like the ability to achieve a certain level of detail very inexpensively. The one drawback I found, however, is the paper pulp itself is somewhat lumpy so that a smooth texture is difficult to achieve.

What I tried to do to compensate for that, on Madog anyway, was to cover it with several thin coats of Monster Mud. That gave me a very nice base to paint on, but I'd like to avoid having to use that extra step if I could.

My thinking, therefore, was to grind if possible the cellulose into a fine powder using a food chopper, you know, like the Braun handhelds that have attachments with high-speed spinning blades and containers. I used three different models (don't ask why I have three food grinders), but while a fine dust was made, the bulk of the cellulose didn't break down all that much. It became a little finer I guess, but perhaps because it was so light that it spun at almost the same speed as the blades and didn't get cut up nearly as much as I wanted. So I'll have to try another means of getting a fine powder without the expense of going out and buy a specific product.

If anyone has suggestions on how I might grind the cellulose I'd be happy to hear.


  1. Paperclay is a really good product but kind of expensive. Have you tried grinding after you have added water to the cellulose? When making homemade paper, you grind the slurry in a blender to achieve a smooth consistency; you might try using a Cuisinart to do the same thing for your paper mache in small batches.

    1. Just wanted to update you on your suggestion and let you know this is now how I regularly process my cellulose insulation. I simply squeeze the water out of the slurry at the end and proceed to make a really awesome paper clay with the additional ingredients. Thanks for the tip!


  2. That I have not! My only question, though, would be on how to achieve the appropriate thickness of "clay" afterwards as obviously I wouldn't want it too thin. But I could experiment with varying amounts of water since, yes, it seems the cellulose needs some sort of binding agent in the blender/chopper/food processor (hmm, don't know if the wife would allow me to use the big food processor for this!).

    Thanks, I'll give it a try!

  3. Hi. Before I found Jonni's site I was soaking paper napkins in water, sqeezing the water out and letting them dry. Then I would put small amounts at a time in my coffee grinder. It made fairly decent clay, but it really looked best if I made something that was suppose to look like granite or stone. Thanks for sharing your information - it's very helpful!


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