Paper Pulp Sculpture

Paper pulp sculpture in progressMuch of the sculpture I do uses paper pulp as a base. Here I explain my techniques.

Why should I use paper pulp?

  • Paper pulp has many marvellous qualities: When dry it is very light. This means that sculptures which would be impossible or very difficult to construct in the more usual sculpture materials like clay or plaster, can be easily built and moved around without the need for heavy lifting gear like hoists and cranes.
  • It’s cheap! – because you are using only pulped up old newspapers and water there is virtually no cost. Pulping the paper is best done with a pole or stick in an old plastic bucket, again there is very little if any cost.
  • It’s light when it is dry
  • Paper pulp is non toxic – because you are only using normal household materials there is little danger of any one being affected by them.

What do I need for paper pulp?

To make a successful mix of paper pulp you will need:

  • Paper. There are many different papers available, only some of them are good for making paper pulp.

Newspaper – do not use glossy magazines or paper with a hard shiny surface. The ideal paper is that to be found in daily or weekly newspapers. It does not matter if they are broadsheet like the Guardian or the Telegraph or tabloid like the Sun or the Mail. However, do make sure that the family has finished reading them before you take them away.

Tissues, like those used when you have a cold I have found are not at all good for making pulp. The reason is that they have a wet strength additive which means that they do not come apart in your hands. The additive make them ideal for household use but it also means that they do not break down in water very easily. For that reason used tissues should be put in the refuse or incinerated rather than flushed down the toilet. They are however, because of this wet strength, very useful if you wish to make a relief study using tissues. see illustration. Toilet tissue is however designed to break up in water and as a result can be made into a pulp. Continue reading