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Paper Mash Sculpture

6 cups shredded newspaper

Large pot

Boiling water

Cheesecloth or porous fabric

Rip the newspaper into very small pieces - 1-inch squares. Put the shredded paper into a large pot and pour boiling water over it to cover. Stir the paper around with a large wooden spoon to make sure that all the paper is completely saturated with the water. Let this mixture steep for 24 hours.

Scoop out the paper mush and place a few handsful of it onto cheesecloth. Squeeze, press, and wring as much water as possible out of it. You can also squeeze the water out by placing a small amount of the mush in the palm of your hand and squeezing, but the cloth method is more efficient. Use Flour and Water Paste to mix in with the shredded paper by slowly adding the water to the flour, stirring constantly.

Measure out 1 cup of the mash and place it in a sturdy plastic bag with 1/3 cup of the flour paste. Knead and squeeze the materials in the bag until they are thoroughly mixed. If there is room in the bag, add another cup of mush and 1/3 cup paste. Repeat the process with extra plastic bags until all the paper mash is combined with paste. Knead until smooth. Keep the mixture stored in the bag in the refrigerator for up to one month.

To use:

Make a form out of chicken wire, bent wire, coat hangers, hollow paper tubes, and masking tape. When you have constructed the skeleton of your figure, carefully layer the paper mush on top of the form, little by little, building up features, rounding out limbs, making lumps and mounds. Let dry completely and then paint.

You can also make a Mexican Party Pi ata by forming your basic shape around a blown-up balloon, leaving an opening in the top large enough to drop in the candies and favors. When the treasures are inside, seal it up with more paper mush and paint or decorate with crepe paper.

Other ideas: Background scenery for puppet stages, model railroad scenery.

Hints: For a finer working medium, use a special mixture of paper mush made from tissue or toilet paper and paste. To create an unusual finishing touch, you may press leaves and feathers in overlapping patterns to the mixture while it is still wet.

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