The advantages of Paperclay continues.
In Part 1, I talked about the various organic materials that can be incorporated/kneaded into paperclay to create interesting and random textures. Another advantage of the paper fibers in paperclay is its ability to coat and adhere to various materials that ordinary clay will not. The paper fibers will "grab" on to the irregularities of the surface to be coated and hence form a foundation for the clay to stay on.
In my sculptures, I've used paperclay to coat steel mesh (hardware cloth aka chicken wire), cotton twine, thin reeds, flowers, twigs. etc. The paperclay I've used is the sculpture body paperclay from Aardvark (IMCO in Sacramento is the manufacturer) and the Southern Ice Porcelain Paperclay, imported from Australia by Laguna Clay Company in Los Angeles. Laguna Clay Company has stopped carrying the Southern Ice Porcelain Paperclay, probably because of its cost.
Both types of paperclay will can be used with the above mentioned materials. The paperclay slip is made to a "heavy cream" consistency for the brushing method.
When I first start out, I usually brush it on with a soft fan brush, liberally loaded with the paperclay slip. This can be messy work so spread out old newspapers for easy of clean up after. It's slow work here as you need to let the first coat dry completely before the next application. It may not look like much but you are already coating your object with the paper pulp fibers.
I prefer brushing to dipping because I can control the coverage of the details. You may prefer the dipping method if the object to be coated is small enough to fit into your bucket of paperclay slip. Shake off the excess slip and let dry. The first few coats will be slow going until you have built up several coats. From here, it goes pretty fast as the fresh paperclay slip will stick on to the bone dry paperclay coat extremely well. This is actually the fun part and I enjoy this time the most. You can literally see the layers build up.
If you are using the dipping method, it's best at this point to thin out your paperclay slip a bit or else you will have to much slip adhering to your object with each dip. The dipping method is faster but if you are not careful, it will cover up/obliterate the details you have on your object. You can also use a combination of brushing and dipping. Whatever works for you to get to the desired thickness of coverage and still show the details.
In this discussion, I'll use my sculpture "Trapped" to show the different stages in the coating technique. The piece is bisqued fired only. The bamboo reeds and cotton twine burns out; the steel mesh is still encapsulated within the paperclay coating.
The sculpture could probably go to Cone 3 or 5 with the steel wire embedded in it, but since I'm using a community kiln, I'd rather not risk damaging the kiln.
Initial forming stage - Materials used here are chicken wire, bamboo reeds, cotton twine.
After first coat of paperclay slip, brush technique, drying in the sun.
After 2nd day of coating. There must have been approx. 15 coats already here. I lost count!
Final stage. I'm happy with the coverage and thickness of the paperclay slip over the entire structure. The build up of coverage is anywhere from 3/16" to 1/4" thick.