File puptcrit/puptcrit.0803, message 455

To: <>, <>
Date: Thu, 27 Mar 2008 22:57:02 -0400
Subject: [Puptcrit] Barth Mache: you gotta try it!

Earlier this week, I wrote a short email, pointing to a series of videos on Expert Village, by Emily deCola.

It is mostly about a mask-making technique called barth mache. It can be used for puppet making, I'm sure.

Quick description of method: paint some waterbased contact cement on both sieds of a large sheet of Kraft paper, let dry until tacky, then tear in small pieces and apply to your form, over the release layer).

I tried it tonight, and it really does work, so I'm excited at the possibilities.
It's very interesting how similar to paper mache it is, but how unsimilar it also reacts and becomes.
I'ts like doing paper mache strips with a sheet of incredibly thin rubber, or with skin (not that I ever tried that with skin).

This is the closest result to flexible leather that I've ever had with paper. It remains quite flexible. Maybe too much, so an outline of wire, like they do with some traditional leather commedia dell'Arte masks, would be useful.

It helps if you don't work on the same surface where you prepped the sheet. I didn't think about it at first, and my sheet was beginning to stick to the table where some glue had dried.

I did not have the same waterbased contact cement she uses in the video. But the one I used seemed to work very well. I used Lepage Press-Tite Green (also a waterbased contact cement). This one claims there are no toxic solvents, and no "emanations". I don't know what they mean by emanations, but I swear there is something in it that is nasty nonetheless.

The challenge is to get a smooth result, as the contact cement sticks to itself, and since it is applied to both sides of the paper, the slightest bunching up, the slightest wrinkle, becomes permanent. You can force it flatter, but you'll have a remaining vein no matter what you do.
For my next attempt (adding more to work volumes and increase thickness), I'll prep a much smaller sheet of Kraft paper, to avoid wrinkles.
Tonight I kept the bunches up pieces aside, to use later to build volumes. It worked.

Because of its organic-random handling  properties, it lends itself well to creating natural brak-like textures.

If you bunch up paper to form volumes, make sure you pack it tight and add more instead of hooping the hidden hollows will stay strong and not collapse, otherwise your final product might lose its shape if pressure is applied.

The result can be hard to cut, and requires sharp scissors. It is much harder to cut when there are fewer layers.

It was easy to forget some areas, as brown kraft on brown kraft is hard to tell apart. Maybe next time I'll aternate between a layer of kraft, and a layer of office paper (also prepped with contact cement on both sides).

I wonder if the contact cement will stiffen up with time?
I hope that "latex based" in this case is refering to an acrylic, not the actual rubber latex, which is not a durable material for Theater masks (reacts with sweat, melts and cracks too quickly).

LOTS of potential with this method!
List address:
Admin interface:


Driftline Main Page


Display software: ArchTracker © Malgosia Askanas, 2000-2005