The art of Sue Griffiths at MessieJessie
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Rapunzel Wire and Paper Sculpture

Paper sculpture with papier mache

Papier Mache

Rapunzel, as most of you know, has been a project I’ve had in mind for sometime – it first came to focus way back when I made The Princess and the Pea. The Princess and the Pea was constructed from wire and textile, taking me a fair while to complete. One of the things which delayed my start on this Rapunzel project was the need to find a way to create a sturdy tower; my initial attempts using cardboard tubes turned out to lack strength and, as Tom said, looked like some old Blue Peter project recovered from the cupboard under the stairs (Blue Peter is a kids UK TV show in which cardboard tubes, empty margarine tubs and washing up liquid bottles are used to create all manner of things).   A rethink was required!

wire bending

Wire bending.

Looking back at how I bent and twisted the wire to form the bed posts for The Princess and the Pea gave me some ideas. I’ve also worked with papier mache quite a bit and enjoy it. Papier mache can be used to form all sorts of shapes, all you need is a suitable framework on which to place it. It can be something as simple as an inflated balloon to give a spherical shape, but the shape I’m after is complicated. This is where, wire, wood and even plastic or glass bottles can be helpful and only the imagination can hold you back. Given the type of structure I’m trying to make, combing wire with papier seemed a sensible move and has produced something far more sturdy and organic. It definitely shows promise so I moving ahead with it. Papier mache recipes can vary, some people use flour and water whilst others prefer to use wallpaper paste. I find it easier to use PVA either straight from the bottle or diluted with water. I’m not sure which gives the harder papier mache but I find the PVA method quicker and more convenient. Oh, don’t forget, if you use wallpaper paste remember that some types contain a fungicide. this is great to stop your masterpiece from going mouldy, but don’t use it for projects involving youngsters. Have you made a project using papier mache, or for that matter, carboard tubes? If you have, why not share it with us. Leave us a comment or link below.

Rapunzel's tower

Rapunzel’s tower begins to grow.

Why Rapunzel? Well its back to my love of fairy tales, especially those collected and published by the Brothers Grimm, they’re just wonderful places to let your imagination run riot. The tale published by the Brothers Grimm is adapted from the fairy tale Persinette by Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force and was originally published in 1698.Today, the fairy tale is available in many formats and has spawned all kinds of merchandise. But, its as a book that I remember it; you can still get hold of one at Amazon, though even here you’ll be amazed at the versions available.





Of course, the most memorable line from the tale is, Rapunzel, Rapunzel let down your golden hair, I hope I manage to capture the essence of that line in this piece. How long will it be before Rapunzel is ready to meet her audience? Hmm, I’m not sure. Just keep any eye on this space.

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