Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Paper Casting

This year the Millersburg, Ohio, Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast donated a tree to the Pomerene Hospital Auxiliary Christmas Tree Festival. We created some paper cast ornaments, which were super easy to make, very fast, and a lot of fun! I used Springerle cookie molds from House on the for my molds. The Barn Inn Bed and Breakfast now sells these molds, many of which are replicas of 16th & 17th Century molds found in European Museums. The Goode Wyfe paper cast mold shown above, depicts rural Medieval life, probably Swiss 14th-16th century. These are some of the nicest molds I've found.

Supplies Needed for Paper Casting
Paper casting is a great project for adults
and children.

Cookie Mold
100% Cotton Paper or Cotton Linters
Paper additive
Mold release spray
Sponge or terry cloth rags
Clean absorbent towels
Straight edge knife or stainless steel spatula

You will discover techniques that will work best for you. To the cotton linter, add some cuts of brown tissue paper or 1" pieces of brown paper bag to get a nice natural warm color. You can add a handful of yellow tissue paper pieces for a creamy off-white color. Do not add paint to the pulp as it will discolor your mold. Food coloring tends to fade in the sunlight. Always remove the casting from the mold to dry. Do not expose this brand of mold to prolonged moisture. Tea used for some of the water will give your mold a very old-fashioned look. In some of my castings, I used both tea and brown tissue paper to create an olde-world look.

Prepare the mold, making sure it is clean and dry. Spray mold with release spray (Don't breathe fumes). Spray the mold every 3rd or 4th time it is cast. Place your mold face up on a cloth on a firm surface.

1. Prepare the pulp: Experience will teach you how much water to put with pulp and paper. In a blender pour 3 cups of water or tea/water combination. Next combine 1/4 cup of loosely packed pre-shredded cotton linter for a 3x3" size mold. Add 1/2 tsp. Paper Additive to blender. (Additive will make your casting stronger). Blend pulp mixture on high for 1 1/2 minutes. Blend longer if lumps remain.

2. Using a mesh kitchen strainer, drain water from the pulp. Save the water in a bowl for the next casting. When reusing water for subsequent casts, use additive only every third blending. Do no press the pulp into the strainer. If it is too dry it will not cast into the delicate details of your mold.

3. With your fingers, place about a 1/4th layer of watery pulp onto your mold being sure to cover the entire carving
allowing it to extend to the very edge or beyond and even over the edge of the mold. Make sure that there are no thin or bare spaces on the mold.

4. Extract the water: Gently push the pulp into the carving with fingers. Cover pulp with rags or sponge and blot out excess water. Make sure to press firmly over the detailed areas of your mold to ensure they will appear on your casting. Continually use dry paper towels to remove moisture.

5. Remove casting: When toweling no longer soaks excess moisture, gently turn mold over onto a dry surface. With a small sharp knife gently push back the edges around the entire edge of the mold. Very carefull, use the knife to gently release the casting from the mold. Place the casting on a counter or flat surface.

6. Deckling the edges: At this stage your casting is very fragile and will tear very easily. Controlling the tear of "deckled edge can be tricky. To help control the tear: Apply gentle pressure to the eara you wish to retain with a dull knife or spatula edge as you use a tweezer to pull away tiny pieces of pulp to create a deckled edge. Be extremely careful to not remove more pulp than desired. Work slowly and gently.

7. Dry the casting overnight. Drying time may vary dependin on the humidity or temperature. A cookie cooling rack works well for this by allowing air to flow on both sides. Large pieces tend to begin to warp after drying for several hours. When the mold is half dried, I place a light object on each side so that it dries flat.

If, in the morning, I find that a piece is warped, I often find that I can gently bend it into place; however, if it is really twisted, I dip my finger tip in water and gently moisten the casting on the back side (using minimal moisture). In a minute or so I am able to shape it into place. A slight twist is no problem, as it will glue flat when applying it to a base. Remember, if you are not happy with a casting, simply place it back into the blender!

Cotton Linters, Paper Additive, and the Mold Release can be purchased from House on the Hill or from Arnold Grummer's.

I have also made cookies with these Springerle molds. They are truly almost too pretty to eat! A small recipe booklet is given with the purchase of molds.

Submitted by Loretta Coblentz
November 16, 2011

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