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Butterfly Seed Ornament

Steve Hess uses paper-mache to cast this butterfly seed ornament.

Project by Steve Hess.

Steve Hess used to teach art classes at a high school, where he'd have kids in detention help him shred papers for his papier-mache projects. He uses the paper pulp to make fun garden ornaments that are filled with seeds. After the ornaments are displayed for awhile, they can be broken up and planted in the ground.

The same pulp used to make handmade paper can be used for casting too. It simply needs to have more of the water pressed from it making it suitable for paper casting.

Materials and Tools:

scrap/recycled paper
water
pails/containers
blender
molds and paper screen
old cookie molds
latex gloves
sponge
nonstick baking spray
dry color pigment
seeds
fan
craft knife
50/50 glue/water mixture
string for hanger

Steps:

1. To make the paper pulp: Tear up scrap/recycled paper into small 1/2" bits and soak over night in a large pail of hot water.

2. Scoop a heaping cup of the soaked paper into blender jar and fill almost to the top with water. Blend the mixture until it becomes a smooth pulp.

3. Pour the pulp into a large pail and continue this process until all of the soaked paper has been pulped.

4. Wearing latex gloves, pour freshly made pulp from the blender into your paper screen and allow the water to run out. Press additional water from the remaining pulp until it has a clay-like consistency.

Figure A

5. Select a plaster mold. A mold for paper casting can be purchased ready-made from any craft store. Old cookie molds work well, too. Steve makes many of his own molds by sculpting a model from oil clay and casting it in plaster.

Figure B

6. Prepare any mold you use by spraying it with nonstick baking spray. This will help to release the casting from the mold when it has dried.

Figure C

7. Knead together a small amount of pulp, some dried color pigment and about 1/2 teaspoon of seeds.

Figure D

8. Carefully press into mold, making certain to press the pulp mixture in tightly.

9. Press with sponge to remove excess water. Place in front of electric fan to dry overnight.

Figure E

10. Use a craft knife to carefully pry the dried casting from the mold. It should pop right out with a little nudging.

Figure F

11. Give your casting a coating of the 50/50 glue water mixture. This will make it hard and strong.

12. Glue a string hanger on the back of the ornament and finito. It is nice to prepare clever instructions for hanging the ornament and then later planting it in the garden if you give it as a gift.

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