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Papier Mache

PAPIER MACHE (French for mashed or pulped paper), a term embracing numerous manufactures in which paper pulp is employed, pressed and moulded into various forms other than uniform sheets. The art has long been practised in the East. Persian papier mache has long been noted, and in Kashmir under the name of kar-i-kalamdani, or pen-tray work, the manufacture of small painted boxes, trays and cases of papier mache is a characteristic industry. In Japan articles are made by gluing together a number of sheets of paper, when in a damp condition, upon moulds. China also produces elegant papier mache articles. About the middle of the 18th century papier mache work came into prominence in Europe in the form of trays, boxes and other small domestic articles, japanned and ornamented in imitation of Oriental manufactures of the same class, or of lacquered wood; and contemporaneously papier mache snuff-boxes ornamented in vernis ]\Iartin came into favour. In 1772 Henry Clay of Birmingham patented a method of preparing this material, which he used for coachbuilding, for door and other panels, and for many furniture and structural purposes. In 1845 the application of the material to internal architectural decoration was patented by C. F. Bielefeld of London, and for this purpose it has come into extensive use. Under the name of carton pierre a substance which is essentially papier mache is also largely employed as a substitute for plaster in the moulded ornaments of roofs and walls, and the ordinary roofing felts, too, are very closely allied in their composition to papier mache. Under the name of ceramic papier mache, architectural enrichments are also made of a composition derived from paper pulp, resin, glue, a drying oil and acetate of lead. Among the other articles for which the substance is used may be enumerated masks, dolls' heads and other toys, anatomical and botanical models, artists' lay figures, milliners' and clothiers' blocks, mirror and picture-frames, tubes, etc.

The materials for the commoner classes of work are old waste and scrap paper, repulped and mixed with a strong size of glue and paste. To this very often are added large quantities of ground chalk, clay and fine sand, so that the preparation is little more than a plaster held together by the fibrous pulp. Wood pulp (from Sweden) is now largely used for making papier mache. For the finest class of work Clay's original method is retained. It consists of soaking several sheets of a specially made paper in a strong size of paste and glue, pasting these together, and pressing them in the mould of the article to be made. The moulded mass is dried in a stove, and, if necessary, further similar layers of paper are added, till the required thickness is attained. The dried object is hardened by dipping in oil, after which it is variously trimmed and prepared for japanning and ornamentation. For very delicate relief ornaments, a pulp of scrap paper is prepared, which after drying is ground to powder mixed with paste and a proportion of potash, all of which are thoroughly incorporated into a fine smooth stiff paste. The numerous processes by which surface decoration is applied to papier metche differ in no way from the application of like ornamentation to other surfaces. Papier metche for its weight is an exceedingly tough, strong, durable substance, possessed of some elasticity, little subject to warp or fracture, and unaffected by damp.

See L. E. Andes, Die Fabrikation der Papiermache- nnd Papierstoff-Waaren (Vienna, 1900); A. Winzer, Die Bereitung und Beniitz3(Asg der Papiermache und dhnlicher Kompositionen (4th ed., Weimar, 1907).

Note - this article incorporates content from Encyclopaedia Britannica, Eleventh Edition, (1910-1911)

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