NOT Your Mama's Paper Mache!

The Magic of Paper Mache   by A. Kelly Richard

About Me

I am a professional sculptor with a passion for fine arts and fine crafts.  Classically trained as a sculptor, I have worked for over 40 years in many mediums from clay to bronze.  I have combined this knowledge with my years of experience owning and operating two fine craft galleries in the Washington/Baltimore metropolitan area.  Today I explore the qualities, flexibility and the magic of Paper Mache.

I originally started out creating endangered species and unique animals that caught my fancy.  Recently I moved to the low country of South Carolina where I am surrounded by a myriad of birds and creatures.  Now I am focused on animals that I see as I walk in my neighborhood such as Great Blue Herons, alligators and box turtles.   All my work is figurative.

The Process
I begin by doing detailed drawings of my subject.  Correct proportions are very important in creating believable figures.  I work from real life whenever possible but also rely on photographs when necessary.  My drawings are transferred to a foam core pattern or wire armature.  Newsprint is packed around the armature to create body mass.  At this time, I determine how lean or stocky the figure will be.  The turn of the head or position of a limb defines the personality of the figure and gives it life and energy.  Anyone can produce a stiff rigid figure.  I instill life and infuse emotion into all of my works of art.

The newspaper structure forms the base for the air-dried clay.  The clay is applied in thin layers to the outside of the form.  For me this is the artistic part of the process. I enjoy creating texture on my pieces. Countless hours and extensive attention to detail go into creating each work of art.  Each sculpture is made up of many layers of clay.  Each layer requires 24 to 48 hours of drying time before another layer can be applied.  I always create the eyes for my figures, never relying on commercially made glass or plastic eyes. 

The dried piece of sculpture is sealed with a primer.  Each sculpture is hand painted with acrylic paint and sealed once again with a matte or satin finish.  From concept to finished product it takes 4 to 8 weeks to complete a Paper Mache sculpture.