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Making a papier-mâché prop / by boiled wool

Photo by Sheep

Cynthia Chang, who performs under the name boiled wool, started making props as a way to channel their background in sculpture into their performance project. “Initially I wrote my songs on the guitar, but when I started transposing them on to the computer there wasn't really a way for me to play those compositions live with instruments,” Cynthia says. “The props served as a crutch for my insecurity as a musician and a distraction from thinking about being looked at, they gave me something to interact with to distract the audience from noticing that I was ‘just’ singing.” For this issue of The Media, Cynthia compiled this DIY how-to guide on making a papier-mâché prop (complete with step-by-step directions and photographs), just like the kinds of props they often use during performances. “I think I am able to create more tension for the audience by chasing a balloon around the stage with a needle than by playing the synth or the guitar,” Cynthia adds. Their most recent release is titled how can you tell by looking, was released in June 2017 and can be heard below. You can also check out some of their older work here.


SUPPLIES you will need
Craft Knife
Paint Brush
Elmers Glue
Hair Dryer (optional (if you are impatient)

1. First you need an idea! Here's some drawings I did for mine.

2. Make your shape out of cardboard, I decided to do a hand holding a flower.

3. Next I covered my shape in plastic so it doesn't stick to the cardboard because I want to be able to remove the papier-mâché from the cardboard so it's a light shell.

4. Cut up lots of strips of newspaper and dip in water downed elmer's glue (about the consistency of heavy cream, thick but not tooooo thick).

5. Cover your whole shape! You can speed up the drying by using a hair dryer or placing it in front of a fan.

6. Cover your whole shape with two or three more layers of newspaper dipped in watered down elmer's glue, letting each coat dry in between.

7. Using your craft knife cut your papier-mâché shell from your cardboard. But if you are leaving the cardboard underneath, skip to step 9 (painting your shape).

8. Patch it back together with more newspaper and elmer's.

9. Paint your shape however you desire! I like to prime it first with some white mixed with elmer's glue. The white serves as a primer to cover up the newsprint so your final color will be more opaque and the extra glue gives your shape more strength.

10. Great! You are done and I am very proud of you!!!! :) :) :)

Cynthia Chang is a tired, but good dog. Chang writes and performs under the moniker boiled wool. They like to keep their hands busy by making clothes, sculptures, paintings, useless and useful objects. You can find them at @boiled_wool on instagram or e-mail boiled.wool.is.ok@gmail.com.

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