PLASTER PULP EXPERIMENTS: THE RESULTS FINALLY!
Finally I can bring you the results of these first experiments. When you see the chart (below) you may at first think there is not much to go on thanks to the loss of the control batches (read on for full details). If this was a serious scientific controlled experiment then it would be a total failure & have to be started over completely. However these experiments are only the beginning of what can only in fair terms be deemed ‘basic but effective’ experiments for most (peoples) needs in the paper mache world. So in those terms in actual fact I did not truly require the control batches I threw those into the mix in case anyone thought it would not be fair without them being there.
So why aren’t they there then?
Well for the first part I dropped some of the un-cut pure plaster test samples on our hard tiled kitchen floor three of which landed in such a way they shattered clean through. I did of course remake the lost samples. Sadly I failed time & time again to cut these samples down into they’re final ‘test sizes’ which was to be 5cm x 16cm x 7mm as with the plaster pulp test samples. Rather than waste more time & sculpting plaster I just scrapped the control batches in the end. The fact I failed to cut them down told me they would not have held much weight in the weight strength test in the end anyway.
So to the test results & a final conclusion for ‘this’ batch of experiments so far then.
CLICK ON IMAGE TO ENLARGE:
FINAL INFORMATION & CONCLUSIONS FOR THIS BATCH OF EXPERIMENTS
Drawn from my own set of experiments I CAN say with strong conviction that a true plaster pulp ‘hybrid’ medium IS possible. Indeed my own experiments gave me two batches that withstood a weight exceeding 7lbs (3kg+). These being batches:
WHITE MATTER©™ BATCH No.1
This batch was made from commercially purchased white dry pulp Claycrete® & high quality sculpting plaster.
I suspect the ClayCrete® comes with some form of starch (or something with similar bonding properties) like medium added to act as a ‘bonding agent’ since the user only need add water to the dry mix in preparation for final use. I draw this conclusion solely from the fact it appears to contain a fine but course white powder which is loose within the package. This mixed with sculpting plaster produces a very lightweight plaster pulp medium that gives very high quality lightweight result when used in conjunction with a mould form. The dried mix is also extremely strong even at a thickness of well under 1mm. Of course this IS subject to ‘user’ requirements of the final mix & achieving the correct balance between the Claycrete® & the sculpting plaster. This then leaves this mix open to debate which can only truly be justified by extensive multi-user trials.
GREY MATER©™ BATCH No.2
This batch was made from home made grey pulp (matt/glossy computer magazine paper & high quality sculpting plaster.
This home made batch has almost the same final qualities as my Claycrete® batch in terms of texture (cotton/lint stage of pulping). It (as well as ALL the other home made pulps) lacked that ‘bonding’ aspect the commercial pulp had & yet when it came to the weight strength test MY home made batch surpassed the commercial plaster pulp mix by some .9gms. Both mixes were measured & mixed as evenly as possible. They were both initially created in an identical mould form & finally cut down to as equal as possible test samples of again as close as possible to the same dimensions.
Given the final results from the weight strength texts I believe I can at the very minimum double the strength of my home made GREY MATTER©™ plaster pulp by finding the right ‘bonding agent to add to the final mix. This opens the doors to new experimentation in which I hope to find this medium of course, however I have the suspicion that it needs to be a water based or water absorbent medium that will effectively bond the paper pulp whilst at the same time not retard the sculpting plasters natural bonding properties.
If anyone reading this has little to no experience making any form of paper pulp(s) or they do not have the facilities (A blender or coffee grinder) then I strongly recommend they use a commercially ready made pulp medium. Whilst I initially used Claycrete® in my experiments & CAN highly recommend this pre-made commercial pulp mix I DO suggest you try other commercial ready made pulps too. Everyone has they’re OWN idea’s, uses & needs when it comes to any art form or indeed anything else. So final ‘best results’ uses & requirements are open to self choice here.
I have found mercifully early in & without too much experimenting two potential plaster pulp mixes that whilst they are not perfect are but for a bonding agent exactly what I am searching for, for future projects. I hope too that by sharing these early experiments with you all out there that you too can find a bridge between plaster & pulp that can assist you in making even better paper mache art. Remember though EXPERIMENTATION IS THE KEY but most of all HAVE FUN doing it okay.
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