Experiments with Paperclay

A few years ago I experimented with different types of paperclay (air dry and fired clay) on canvas, drywall – almost anything I could get my hands on. I have used paperclay (firing in a kiln) to repair scupture and relief with success. I felt it was a subject that needed revisiting as paperclay is being used today for large sculptural works for thinness translucency and strength. I need to distinguish the 2 main types of paperclay – air dry ( no firing required) and fired paperclay in a kiln. I have used both. Non firing paperclay is excellent for sculpting models for a mold, whereas I use fired paperclay to repair greenware and bisque sculpture and releif.

Here is some examples of Air dry paperclay on Canvas and drywall:

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The recipe for Air dry paperclay is as follows:

Paperclay: In a bowl combine
3/4 c. flour
1/2 c. cornstarch
1/2 c. salt
warm water  – mix with hands and knead until consistency of clay.
Paperclay recipe #2
1 pkg creative paperclay
2-3 tbsp wallpaper paste
2-3 tbsp water

cut paperclay into chunks  add water and paste. Mix and knead with hands until consistency of toothpaste let dry overnight. seal in ziploc bags

Paperclay Recipe for kiln firing methods:

You can use a variety of different papers and clays to get the effect you want such as stoneware or porcelains. It is by experiment and your favourite clays. The recommended paper to use is newsprint but any paper (with the exception of gloss papers) will do.  Thus ancient paper mixture allows the clay body to open up, lighten the weight and add strength. The recipe for this process is simple and easy – start by shredding the paper ( in a shredder works best and is faster than by hand) Soak overnight at least 24 hours. Next with a blender or drill with a mixing bit attachment mix the soaked paper until a thick paste consistency.  Add your clay in powdered form — 60 parts powdered clay to 40 parts paperclay.

For repairs on bisque or greenware:  Add  1part magic water, 2parts clay  mix until a slip consistency. next add 1 part toilet paper or tissue paper and mix until a smooth paste. glue the broken pieces together or with a small paintbrush paint the cracks with the mixture. let dry and sand with fine sandpaper **carefully***.

Magic Water : used by sculptors and potters to adhere wet clay together after scoring the pieces.
3 tbsp sodium silicate
1-5 tsp soda ash
1 gallon water

Spooze: (use: as above)
1/3 slip
1/3 Karo syrup
1/3 vinegar

Paperclay technique allows ceramists to create large thin forms to achieve translucency or luminous sculpture such as in porcelain. Reference: & for more information See The Art & Craft of Ceramics Techniques, Projects, Inspiration by Maria Dolors Ros i Frigoloa

A video with a great recipe :

Air dry paperclay:

1 roll of toilet paper
3/4 cup of white glue (Elmer’s glue-All)
1 cup of joint compound
1/2 cup white flour
2 tablespoons linseed oil

Sculpture lesson: Cracks

As a sculptor in clay it is very disappointing to fire art and have it come out of the kiln either broken or cracked. More often than not handbuilt clay art work has cracks – it is the nature of the beast. In order to ‘save’ your work there are important techniques that anyone working in clay can apply to any artwork and have a better chance at success.

Here are the steps :

1.  When sculpting the piece ensure the soft clay is joined correctly. Here is a video by ceramic arts daily to demonstrate proper handbuilding techniques http://ceramicartsdaily.org/pottery-making-techniques/handbuilding-techniques/handbuilding-video-a-surefire-way-to-build-strong-handbuilt-sculptures/?floater=99

2. Make certain your piece is dried completely prior to firing the piece. Know your clay and the appropriate firing temperatures before attempting to fire your work. Firing too high or too low will not give you the results that you want. I once worked for weeks on a figure that I blew up in the kiln because I had changed my clay and fired it too high. A regret and lesson to double check the instructions on the box. Dry your piece slowly —no need to rush. Work on other projects if you are itching to get it in the kiln – distract yourself if necessary.

3. After your work is dried completely fire in the kiln at a low temperature. I fire my art to a cone 018. I fire on the lowest setting for 2 hours than bring it up slowly over a 6-8hour period. Once it has been fired I leave it closed and let it cool down completely and overnight before I open the kiln.

4. Remove the work from the kiln and check for apparent cracks or broken pieces. Submerge the bisque fired clay into a bucket of water and check for small or hairline cracks. Cracks are often not even noticed at first but will become evident once the bisque is wet.

5. Mix together with a handheld blender/mixer vinegar and toilet paper until the consistency of baby pablum, add dried powder clay (same as the clay used for the project) and mix and blend together with the vinegar pulp mixture until a smooth paste. Fill cracks and repair broken pieces with the mixture. do not worry too much about bumps as they can be sanded later after the piece has dried, lightly and carefully sand with a q-tip. Before continuing make certain the piece is completely dry PRIOR to firing again. At this stage you can either sand,smooth, glaze the piece  and fire to full temperature.

Recipe :
Vinegar, toilet paper, clay ( from your source – dried and pulverized until powdered or no more than 1/4 ” pieces. The acid  in the vinegar will break down the toilet paper and clay particles.

6. Or you may also dry completely and refire to cone 018 – until you are certain there is no more cracking or repairs needed. After it is removed from the kiln resubmerge in water and sand off any bumps from the paperclay. The final phase is to finish with a Glaze application and fire to temperature.

If you have any questions let me know I would be happy to discuss or workout any technical issues you may have Or queries on techniques. I am working on getting photos of this process and will post shortly.


Recent Art Activity

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Here are some pictures of recent work:

  1. An acrylic painting ‘Carried Away’ 11″ x 14″ on board
    ‘Carried Away’ Remember the day we laughed in our embrace? We lived with every moment and loved with our whole hearts. We sang from our souls , we played everyday
    You carried me away…
  2. A 3d figurative sculpture with relief titled ‘king of arts’ – a story of a boy puppeteer ‘the king’  a painter and poet(writer) the queen -a dancer and a joker- musician. A handbuilt sculpture incorporating all the arts: performance (music and dance), literary, visual.
  3. Vase – 22″ handbuilt with figurative relief sculpture in porcelain
  4. Vase-20″ handbuilt with figurative releif  for the Havanese Fanciers of Canada dog show held end of oct 2010 

My poem ‘Flora’s Daughter’ written for a painting of my daughter Bethany for the Art in Bloom exhibition at the Victoria Art Gallery and Museum has been selected as a finalist in the poetry competition held by the Poetry Institute of Canada. The poem will be published in a book titled ‘Island Mists’ an anthology of verse (National Library of Canada, Ottawa ISBN 978-1-926774-02-2).

My artwork has also been selected by the jury of the Sidney Fine Art show to be exhibited with the other amazing artists in BC October 15 – 17th at the Mary Winspear Center.

I work in painting, sculpture and drawing and I firmly believe artists should be versatile in a variety of artforms. 3d and 2d are synergistic in the training of an artist and both mediums are important to our growth and progress as an artist. Currently I am working on sculptured vases, a sketchbook project (handbound with acrylic painted hardcover), a figurative oil painting and a china painted handsculpted teapot with cups and saucers. pics to follow once I get some new batteries for my camera.

Here is a site I just found
My next challenge will be to submit to either Oil painters of America, ARC and/or  greenhouse gallery Salon International this year.
ARC prospectus – http://artrenewal.org/articles/Salon/SalonProspectus.php deadline dec20. 2010
Greenhouse gallery Salon International http://www.greenhousegallery.com/si/2011prospectus.pdf deadline jan21 2011

My most recent poem:     
The Wisest Words
The wisest words that were ever told
are not from cry or plea
shouted above the crowd
nor spoke on bended knee
The loudest or the softest breath
will not its matter make
In the still of silence is where the wisest words take place
Tis not heard at all
For in the quiet of our thoughts
God’s understanding falls
listen to hear his call

Art sites

A comprehensive list of internet sites for Artist competitions, calls for entry, marketing and juried exhibitions :
This is for the artist that likes to apply themselves in as many directions as possible all at once.
I spent hours on the computer over a month collecting these sites on my favourites hopefully they will be helpful to all my artist friends out there. If you find something of value let me know or if you are not happy with one of the sites listed here for some reason let US all know so that we can help each other.
Current information: 

Book cover:  Art will be accepted through December 31, 2010


Here is a site with lots of excellent opportunities for artist residencies (with some paid stipends) and international opportunities – worth checking out and probably one of the best sites on the internet for artist opportunities.
scroll through the pages for many different types of opportunities:
For artists focusing on feminist approach and women

drawing competition: http://www.manifestgallery.org/nda/
Canadian Institute of portrait artists:  http://www.portraitscanada.ca/  
Artist competitions and designers —-Designboom.com
Anyone want to design a puzzle go here: http://www.masterpiecesinc.com/AboutUs/ArtistSubmissions.aspx
or for prints and publishing artist submissions you can check this out:
Great idea and want to be published?
Have a need to exhibit in a craft market?
For next year you can also check out one of a kind show and sale for toronto vancouver new york etc.
ART Competitions:
http://www.manifestgallery.org/ drawing competition deadline dec31 2009
or their other competitions here http://www.manifestgallery.org/about/submit.html
Want to be on a stamp? http://www.whc.org/en/stamp-print-program/
A free artist opportunities site: http://www.studiochroma.net/art_opportunities/about-2/
  artist /sculptors
Design a small teapot http://gallery.saddleback.edu/shows/11FEB10/ 
Live in New York? http://www.nyfa.org/opportunities.asp?type=Opportunity&opp=OppArtist&id=95&fid=1&sid=54
Portfolio space: http://www.lwcr.com/artistfront/
ARTbook :http://www.internationalcontemporarymasters.com/artists.html
invitation to design invitations? http://www.invitationconsultants.com/designcontest.aspx
Interested in tile? http://www.tileheritage.org/TileHeritage-home.html
Deadline for submission dec 8th (tile)http://www.juriedartservices.com/index.php?content=event_info&event_id=224
Call for artists: http://artistsonline.biz/call_for_entries/craft_show.htm
Ok here is where ART and SCIENCE collaborate apparently: http://www.asci.org/
CONT”D http://www.artcalendar.com/adlisting/index.asp?EntryFee=1

Zelli Porcelain: http://www.zelli.co.uk/award2009.html
A national ceramic competition:
ART Fair/ shows:
Too late for this year (held in late oct) but really early for next year!! 😉
Gallery submissions
Charles cummings gallery : http://claylink.com/zen/index.php?main_page=page&id=18&chapter=0&zenid=07bb5fb63d09ffc2a2b9591020a3509e
EBSQ http://blog.ebsqart.com/2009/08/03/ebsq-announces-revamped-featured-artist-program/
ETSY etsy.com
For How to information for artists or anyone check out:
Would like to get into the movie industry go here:
A construction material that artists are using as a substrate for watercolor, acrylic and oil  etc :
Artist Projects to get involved with:
For Encaustic artists:
international encaustic artists – this site is not user friendly you need patience.
Competitions cont’d
http://artelagunaprize.com/  added extra bonus wine label competition !!

Greenhouse gallery portfolio submission: http://www.greenhousegallery.com/portfolio.html
Greenhouse gallery 2010 prospectus for competition submissions for traditional representational artists:
Salon international 2010 http://www.greenhousegallery.com/si/
Emerging Artist auction NYC

Wine labels usually held annually

If anyone has some more sites of interest do not hesitate to add them to this post. I am currently interested in wine label competitions.