Paper Mache

After my discussion with my tutor about how I felt the modroc wasn’t doing enough for me, I decided I should try the method I mentioned before, paper mache, to see if it’s anything like I want it to be. I’ve never actually used this method before so it’s completely new to me, but what’s good is I have a friend who has done it many times before and she offered to teach me tips for getting the texture and thickness I want.

For a start she helped me decide which material to use, paper or kitchen towel, as paper is thin but can become very hard, whilst tissue is thicker but doesn’t set as hard unless coated quite often. She also showed me the different pastes you can use, one being wallpaper paste, another being flour and water, and another being pva glue and water.

In many guides I found it mentioned ripping the material and dipping it into the paste and then applying it to the object, but I found this to be a bit difficult as I kept feeling that the paste was on too thick even when I stripped of some of the pva on the edge of the bowl it was contained in, so she showed me another method which agreed with me more. This method featured using a thick brush to coat the object first, and then applying the material afterwards, then coating the material again, in a sense coating both the object and the material.

To learn this I used a hand statue I had brought before to do another hand piece. I was able to make the fingers longer and sharper, and made the knuckles look shiny to resemble skin stretched over bone too much. Unfortunately I left the experiment in the studio, in the hopes of photographing it in a better environment than my home, and it disappeared.  Although I asked around no one saw it and it’s thought that my work got thrown away. However I know from doing this experiment that it would look interesting on the skeleton, and I plan to use paper mache to cover the ribs and possibly the rest, especially considering how the tissue felt after the pva touched it, it felt very strange and quite ghoulish. I think if I can make it that unpleasant to touch again then it would add another layer to the work, adding in the ability for the viewer to recoil if they touched it.


Studio Week 10

As I’ve been unable to attend Studio with my tutor recently due to illness, and the last I attended in Week 8 was run by a different tutor, I arranged to meet with her today. Due to the size of the skeleton I was unable to bring it into Studio to show her so had to settle with just showing photos. Because I was only able to get it last week I didn’t have much to show her in terms of actual work done, but because she hadn’t seen the exhibition pieces I done for week 8 I was able to get her input on that also.

She criticised the work in the same way the other tutor and group did, explaining that the presentation wasn’t very well thought out, and she proceeded to show me how I should have presented it, without the plinth attached to the hand for example, and explained how the skin colour and fake blood colour looked tacky and took the horror feel away from the piece and made it appear more of a jokative work.

The work of the skeleton I was able to show her was the beginning of the modroc I’d started on the legs, beginning the process of thickening them up slightly and hardening the actual plastic of the bones through the use of modroc, as I didn’t realise when I brought it how thin the plastic would feel. I mentioned the fact that I plan to try paper mache soon as I think the modroc might make the skeleton appear too much of a joke still, because of how white and cartoon like the smooth modroc felt and looked, and to this she suggested that modroc could still be a good idea if I stopped being too delicate with it. She explained that the smoothness of the modroc is accomplished because of how I apply it and aim for it be even, if I didn’t try to make it so even and well rounded it wouldn’t be smooth anymore.

She felt my skeleton wasn’t anything like I’d discussed before, and in her opinion she felt I should return to the masks and make a work centering on them as a final piece for the exhibition, but I felt I had to disagree because I really think that this skeleton could look really interesting and has some good potential. I feel like I’ve gone as far as I can with the masks for now, and I think she would have felt the same if I was able to get more of it done before I saw her. I understand from the little she saw that it doesn’t look like much but I’m feeling confident it could look really impressive, and I’ve had nothing but encouragement for it from other tutors and peers so far.

Beginning the Skeleton

To start off I plan to use the medium I’ve played with a lot in this term, modroc. I hope to coat all the bones with it, as they are quite thin which isn’t what I hoped, and then begin building upon the base, much like how my masks was made, starting with a basic face and building upon it. I’ve had to start this quite late compared to when I got the idea because of my fibromyalgia intensifying, and although I’ve tried to push through, it’s not going too well. I had hoped to have both legs completely finished by now, or at least half finished.


I’m not happy with how smooth it all looks, as I think it looks rather cartoonistic, but I have mentioned before that I think I may start a new method, Paper Mache to be specific.

Bogdan Rata

Bogdan Rata, born 22nd January 1984, currently lives and works in Timisoara, Romania and teaches at the West University of Timisoara, Faculty of Arts and Design, Sculpture Department.


Trying To Keep Life. 2012.

An artist I feel should have been mentioned, or found earlier, is Bogdan Rata. His work features subjects like deflated of beheaded bodies, or dismembered limbs entwined together. He uses new materials as polystyrene, industrial paint, plaster and synthetic resin.

Based in a “forgotten future”, his work reproduces “replicas of reality” reminiscent of the virtual world in the film Blade Runner.  Rata multiplies human parts (fingers, ears, and so on) and combines them into new life forms. The newborn creatures seem to result from strange experiments with the human body in an esthetics lab.


Plastic Surgery. 2010.

Rata’s works forge a contextual change of the anatomic detail through its obsessive multiplication. The materials used, and the resulting industrial look, question the assault on individual personality in a climate of commercial branding uniformity. The concept of “hand-foot” and the “unsuccessful blessing” symbol strengthens the idea behind the work, delicately propelling it into the realm of grotesque. The torso also evokes a twist of reality, the socially provocative themes of sexual identity and the hermaphrodite.


Skeleton Proposal

So far this term I’ve had no major ideas on what I could do for the final exhibition next term, and I’ve been working on casts and masks hoping to have something finally come to me. Recently I finally had an idea come to me which I think could work very well if done right. I plan to acquire a skeleton, roughly the size of an average person, and I hope to decorate it in different ways, by layering it with modroc to make certain parts larger and leaving bone bare in other parts. I also plan to stick objects through it, like long shards of clear plastic, as seen on the hand I presented for the exhibition, nails and possibly more. I’m not planning to go back to casting anything for the skeleton, and I am also considering looking into other methods of coating the bones, one which comes to mind is paper mache.

For presentation ideas I hope to be able to hang it from the ceiling with clear fishing line, and have its feet touching the floor so the viewer is confronted with it on eye level, or to have it sat in a chair in the centre of a room. In my opinion I think having it hung will work much better than having it sat on a chair, as I wanted the viewer to feel confronted, much like a scene from a horror movie when the victim is trying to escape and turns around at the last second to see the killer right behind them. In  that case the victim is confronted with their fear of being killed, the obvious outcome, and in this case I want the viewer to think of those scenes and become uncomfortable.

I have already found an artist, Fardou Louise Keuning, who has made a work slightly resembling my ideas, but she does them in more of a jokative way and for much different reasons.

Rehana Zaman

Rehana Zaman’s work centres around moving image and performance. Her work considers the complex interplay of multiple social dynamics that constitute subjects along particular socio-political formations. A key work of hers which I found interesting was the piece called ‘Tell Me The Story Of All These Things’ which is also one of her most recent works. I find it powerful how she included her own sister in the work as a way to explore the ideas of clothing, education and food. This allows a personal relationship for the artist which isnt necessarily obvious until you’re told she is her sister. She created her own involvement as she forms this conversation which kickstarts the rest of her short film.

Watching this film you gain an intimate relationship with the woman and learn details about her you wouldnt expect, which anchors the piece itself. Zaman highlights how she layers the figures in the video as a way to explore the body. She explains that the conversation wasn’t planned, but instead more natural and wanted to explore a personal shared experience. The film capturing the process of her making a curry ties in cultural traditions and family. The importance of space is highlighted as she uses the kitchen while she cooks, a domestic environment which can relate to all. It is this location which can be considered to the most popular to spark conversations, which in turn makes the video feel natural.

Skeleton Brainstorming

To help further possible ideas for my skeleton idea I decided to brainstorm a few thoughts I’ve had recently to try and pick out the best;

Methods to use;

  1. Modroc
  2. Paper Mache
  3. Casting to recreate certain bones in different ways

Objects to embed;

  1. Nails
  2. Clear plastic or glass
  3. Barbed wire
  4. Metal Shards?

Additional decor?

  1. Possibly real organs (animal) if health and safety allow, eg. a pig or beef heart, obtainable from butchers?
  2. Fake blood (NOT PAINT)
  3. Possibly latex? For fake skin?

Artists who come to mind?

  1. Kiki Smith’s Hard Soft Bodies 1992
  2. Marc Quinn (Already researched but the grotesque look of frozen blood face could help me further the idea of using animal heart)
  3. Fardou Louise Keuning