Saturday, May 31, 2008

Now for the brown paper skin

wheat paste and kraft paper
Here's a life lesson: when you make wheat flour paste, don't store it in a Tupperware bowl for two or three days. That is, unless you want sourdough. When we opened the tub yesterday, the odor and the bubbles let us know we were fermentin'. The stink stayed on my hands for about 24 hours, even with washing and taking a shower.

lying and dryingBut we got the kraft paper skin on all three sections. The middle photo shows a view of one section lying on its back so the skin can dry. We found that the kraft paper ("kraft" is a German word meaning "strong") was much easier to work with than newspaper: it doesn't shred. Maybe we were hastened by the smell, but we got the brown skins on in record time. Now it is time to paint. (Actually, we have already started the painting process, but the rechargeable batteries in my camera have begun to fail. I bought new batteries and have charged them up. Maybe I can take pictures tomorrow.)

standing tallI did have one problem when trying to move around the dried sections. These things are fairly light-weight, but extremely clumsy for one person to move around (no wheels on the bottom). While moving one section, I accidentally dropped it on its side and the skin popped off--all in one, molded piece. OK, no problem. In fact it was easier to paint lying flat on the ground. Then we stapled it back in place.

As you can see, the volcano is tall. By the time we get the top on it, the overall height will be about twelve feet. Makes the piano look small, huh? I'm thinking that post-VBS we can just keep it in the chapel as a representation of Mt. Sinai. Glue a little plastic Moses to the side with two little tablets under his arm. The preacher could flip the switch to start an eruption when congregants start nodding off. It'd be cool.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Adding the skin

One section with some skin
Whooeeey, we have been busy. Cat and I worked on the volcano all Sunday afternoon, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday nights, and we plan to go again tonight. We have applied almost all the "skin" to the structures. This involves making the glue, wetting paper with it, and applying it to the chicken wire. The glue formula is five parts water to one part flour. Boil four units of water, mix the remaining unit with the flour (whisking to reduce lumps), and adding to the boiling water. Cook for three minutes and you have paste (or really tasteless gravy).

We used newspaper as the base layer; the supply was abundant and cost us nothing. We learned that the paper used by our local newspaper is superior for these purposes to the paper used by the Big Flat City newspaper south of us. Well, there's something to be proud of. You can see in the top photo how the process begins. We have to stand on a scaffold to reach the interior surfaces. The bottom photo, although blurry (no, it's not your eyes), shows a completed section. After the newspaper skin dries, it is time to apply the brown craft paper skin. This will provide a base color and is far easier to paint than newspaper. I will provide photos of that in the next posting.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Back in the saddle again

Actually, it is back to monstrous projects again. Do you remember when I built a tomb for the resurrection scene for our church? The tomb has fallen and its skin lies moldering in the yard beside a church building. But I have been requested to build a volcano for Vacation Bible School. A big volcano. A big working volcano. You know what a temptation that was for me. So I have started the project, even took a vacation day to work on it. The idea is that the three triangular prisms all fit together to make a cone. Having the volcano in three sections will make it easier to cover in papier mâché.

The frame for this is 2X4 lumber and metal studs. The skin is chicken wire. Presently the structure is eleven feet tall and about sixteen feet wide at the base. There will be a top section added with all the fireworks. Patience, dear reader, all will be revealed.