Saturday, 1 September 2018

Into the Forest? Let's Go!

I love this quote from the author and philosopher John Muir "And into the forest I go, to lose my mind and find my soul."


And one rainy evening when my imagination was captured by the idea of an Irish elf with his rickety barrow  selling his magickal notions and potions in a forest clearing - I just had to create this scene in 12th scale for the All Hallows Hamlet!


As I've always the odd piece of wood stashed away for those 'just in case' projects - I found a nice piece of plywood which had already been transformed into an unusual shape.


And with a collection of Twisted Willow I had harvested during one of my many visits to York Cemetery as the Graveyard Squirrel and with masking tape, assorted wire, a borrowed wood saw and pliers - I was ready to begin.  


Any sensible artist with patience and planning would have worked out where to plant the pieces of willow and mark them up accordingly until they were happy with the layout - however, as I am neither sensible or patient, I dived straight in with the first piece of willow which I had to attach with a strong glue before securing it with electrical wire.  


Having arranged the wire to give the appearance of tree 'roots', I used a strong-lasting masking tape to secure both willow and roots to the ply base.

But when I shudder at the memory of that HUGE dry-build house crashing about my ears having secured it with cheap, short-life masking tape - I vowed never to be thrifty again!

And with one willow planted and many more to go - I continued using the same method:

Measure the willow to the desired height, saw to create a straight line and sand if necessary.

Attach with glue/wire and secure with masking tape.




When I was happy with the willow design, I began to raise the ground level using strips of newspaper. 

And as a daily reader of a newspaper I was able to do a little recycling as I tore up the strips to pack the tree roots and no, I shan't tell you which newspaper as I get enough grief about it from my spouse!



Using the newspaper in this way not only creates interesting 'mounds' and 'burrows' but will make it easier to apply the papier-mâché.  


And with everything safely in place, this is where the fun really began as I coated the newspaper tree roots and the surrounding area with lashings of papier-mâché.  


Papier-mâché has been used for thousands of years in a HUGE variety of ways and there is more than one recipe for making it, however, I prefer to use a bag of pulp to which you simply add water and mix well.

Having tried a number of papier-mâché ready mixes over the years, my favourite is the 'Creation Station Instant Papier Mâché' available on Amazon as is not as dusty as some of the others on the market.


I always try to do my papier-mâché sculpting outside as it can be really messy and I usually end up with the stuff on the floor, my clothes and even in my hair!  


However, with patience, time and preferably a sunny day, it really is a fabulous medium to work with!

And in a later post, I'll show you how I created the landscaping but I think that it's time for a nice mug of tea!