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I promise this isn’t like the Home Shopping Channel

October 17, 2009

Hey, I never said I wasn't a dork.

Hey, I never said I wasn't a dork.

I worry vaguely that I’m going to turn into one of those bloggers that obsessively names and chronicles all her projects. Mostly, though, I’m trying to fend off my impatience and be zen about the whole endeavor. I jumped back into paper mache with a fairly complex project, one that requires making a solid base and ensuring that each subsequent part is well attached. This means making giant, satisfying leaps forward and then waiting some time for that segment to dry.

Case in point: the rabbit now has forelegs. Which is a great thing! I had a great time figuring out where to place them and how to secure them (old screws from an Ikea bed I no longer own, plus the usual metric ton of masking tape). But there are some drawbacks. This takes some time, and while patience is not one of my better or more constant virtues, I don’t trust myself not to start a fire by drying the piece in the oven. This is the first of the desires I’m grappling with at the moment: I’ve done some preliminary layers and I just want to barrel on ahead. (Did you know paper mache was so fraught with drama? You do now!)

Rabbit with limbs I’ve got a good amount of paste left, and I’m still kind of in the zone, to totally sound like an SNL parody now. What I’d love to do is have another project I can start in on, just so I can have something else to do while the rabbit dries. I really am trying to be measured, though: if I’m not careful, I’ll have half a dozen unfinished forms cluttering up the floor in front of my kitchenette, and I do kind of need that space to exit my apartment.

So, here’s my rule: if I’m not finished with one project, I don’t start on another — not yet, anyway, as I don’t particularly have anything I desperately need to make at the moment. This brings up a rather important point, though — a piece is done when it’s decorated. Great! Decorating is fun. (Except when it’s daunting: I couldn’t begin to explain why this tiny jewelry box is giving me such a block, although the day I choose between the portrait of Napoleon and the peacock for the centerpiece will be a good one.) One good thing to know is when to start decorating.

What is the right time for moving beyond paste and paper? That depends on the project. Generally something with flat surfaces — your jewelry boxes, pencil holders, picture frames and pyramids — requires fewer layers than anything that has curves and bumps. Any project isn’t ready for decorating if it feels damp or cool to the touch in any way. You shouldn’t be able to bend or indent any part of it without effort. My rule of thumb is that if I can forget that it’s made of corrugated cardboard or a plastic bag stuffed with ad inserts, it’s probably ready for some dolling up.

Sanding a flat surface Sand your surfaces to even out the bubbles and blobs and get cracking however you best see fit. Maybe start sketching out some ideas for the next messy piece of glory you’re ready to build. Contemplate how much you love this part of the process while you read My hot glue gun by Shaina Feinberg.

But only after everything — and I mean everything — is dry.

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