Getting stuck in

Getting stuck in

Long time readers of this blog may remember that 2 or 3 years ago, in my search for the perfect seamless fabric vessel, I experimented with papier-mâché. I didn’t persist because 

a) it was difficult to sew into and 

b) the process was messy, and I have low tolerance for mess. (Well, the getting covered in glue type of mess, not the books, needlework and dust over everything type of mess, you understand.)
However, having decided that the hands/gloves, and my brief flirtation with masks, weren’t going anywhere, I decided to have another try with the sticky stuff. It was all down to this lady, especially to the pot you see in the lower left hand corner in the opening sequence, and this lady, who has developed a way of using papier-mâché which is a refinement of the methods I had been using. 

Mistake number 1. Instead of using my tried and true method of painting the glue on the paper as I go, I decided to use the traditional method of soaking the paper in the glue for an hour or so.

Mistake number 2. Tearing the paper into too small pieces.

The result of this was that:

a) the brown paper turned into brown porridge.

b) the tea-bag like paper (not sure what it is, someone gave it to me and they didn’t know either) stayed intact but clung to itself tenaciously. Plus it goes transparent when gluey, and it is difficult to tell translucent paper with glue on it from translucent rubber gloves with glue on them, so I kept trying to pick up my finger.

In both cases I reverted to my old method. and used much bigger pieces of paper. The brown porridge was used up making sculptural lumps in between layers of pasted on paper, because the whole thing was looking pretty lumpy anyway and I decided to make it lumpier.

Mistake number 3. Using a balloon as a mould. Chiefly a mistake because of 

Mistake number 4. Balancing the balloon in a flower pot which was too small. Stupidly I hadn’t realised that the ballon would become top heavy when I added the paper, so the balloon kept falling out of the pot.

Mistake number 5. Not washing the flowerpot before I used it. It has been sitting in the corner of the conservatory for quite some time and has become an insects’ graveyard. The balloon was, of course, very sticky. Need I say more?

Mistake number 6. I covered the table with plastic and newspaper, but not the floor. I wore an overall but didn’t button it all the way down. There was a lot of paste on the table and it began to drip off. I first noticed this when it dripped on my knee. 

It may be a while before I try getting stuck in again.

One thing did work this week though.


Knitted wire and plaster. Of course the knitting is flexible, the plaster comes off if you handle it roughly and I don’t like the shape – but as a first experiment it’s a darn sight better than the papier-mâché!

I’m ambivalent…

about the end of the school holidays. (A feeling I never had when I was teaching. I’ll let you guess how I felt then.) It’s nice to get back into our usual routine but we had such a great summer with the grands, the usual routine may seem a bit boring. 

It does mean that I’ve been able to spend more time with textiles, though.

I’ve been knitting…


a more or less finished glove, which just needs to be hung up. (I’m getting experimental.)


and two less finished gloves which will also be hung up. I think. (They are the same colour, honest.)

But I have been a little distracted from gloves.

One of the prompts from ‘Make Something Every Once in a While’ was to make a mask. I was underwhelmed by the idea, but pulled out a bit of paper, Googled for an adult sized pattern, altered the pattern to make it more original, and made my mask.


Then, of course, I decided it was a bit boring. So I added some bling.

And then I decided to make some more masks. Which meant getting experimental. I fossicked about in the stash, and found several things I’d bought in the past for some purpose long forgotten. (Am I the only one who does this?)


All of these are works in progress. The one on the right is buckram. (I have an awful lot of buckram. I think I was once going to make lampshades.) Moulding it over a plastic mask was tricky and sticky, and I’m not quite sure what to do with it next.

Bottom left is forming felt, which was easier to mould, though that may have been because it’s not a full face mask. However, as I’ve worked on it, it has lost some shaping, so I may have to remould it when I’ve finished.

Top left is washable paper. It’s pretty boring, but as it’s hard to hand stitch into, I may have to machine embroider it ( not my favourite activity) or punch holes in it for some join-the-dots embroidery, as on this other sample.


Lots more experiments needed.

 You may have noticed that there hasn’t been any mention of junk mail books for a while. This is partly due to a shortage of junk mail (hurray!) and partly because after I’d painted the last lot, I left them in a hot conservatory and they stuck together. Normal service will be resumed as soon as I’ve accumulated another collection.