For materials I used newspaper, tissue paper, paper clay, air dry clay, white glue, acrylic paints, an old pair of jeans and of course an old binder.
This project was just another excuse to play around with papier mache. I had a few ideas I wanted to try out and for the most part they worked.
For the deep gashes I use rolled tubes of newspaper. The tighter they are rolled the better. I glued three tubes side by side, the center one becoming the gash, the outer ones just for added support. Then I added some paper clay for more support and to even things outs.
Once that was all dry I slit the tubes down the center and softened the paper by brushing it with water. I separated the layers and pushed them around until they started to look fleshy. Then I did the same with a 50/50 mix of water and glue. After that dried it was ready for paint.
I distressed the jeans by rubbing them against the grip tape on my skateboard. I also used a sandpaper block for a little bit, but much preferred the larger surface of the skateboard. Then I washed and dried them with the laundry and dyed the pieces with watered down acrylics that looked like murky water. Later I would get crazy adding more eyeballs than I ever intended, which would then lead to a considerable amount of distressing and the washing, drying and painting process would have to be repeated.
For the eyes I looked at a bunch of cataract pictures both animal and human for inspiration. What I came up with is definitely a very loose interpretation of the two.
On the first few eyes, the ones closest to the outer edges of the binder, I used a thin layer of air dry clay over paper clay for the center of the eye. They ended up being very flat, still interesting looking, but not my favorite. I like the eyes in the middle of the binder more and for them I used only air dry clay.
The rest of the technique applies to all the eyes.
After the air dry clay dried I gave them a clear coat of acrylic varnish. On top of that I painted a dark base coat for the iris and random splotches of red. On top of that I added layers of tissue paper. The only important detail is to coat each layer of tissue paper with clear varnish, this keeps it translucent when it dries. After that it was just playing around. You don’t have to completely cover the eye with tissue paper each time, varying layers just changes the depth of color in spots. When adding more color I used water down acrylics before the clear coat. After using the watercolor let it dry before adding a clear coat. It’s also fun to just apply a little color and let it wick through the wrinkles in the tissue. Play around with different shades and layers, there’s no wrong way to do it.
The flesh around the eyes is a combination of paper clay covered with strips of tissue paper.
I decided to give this binder a title so I went with POTIONS. I think I might turn it into a recipe book. Same thing right? I was going for a carved into flesh look. I glued down a bunch of layers of ripped newspaper just along the edges, so that when I cut into it, I could easily push paint and water into the edges of the cuts.
Do you ever really forget your first deep laceration? For me it happened when I was just a kid and although I knew in theory there was a fatty layer of tissue under the skin, it still came as a surprise the first time I saw it out there in the open. Protruding out of my wound, a thick yellow mass, it reminded me of dough bursting along the seams of one of those Pillsbury cans. I think what I ended up creating on my binder looks more like pus, but fatty tissue was my inspiration, and I believe in giving credit where credit is due.
I put a pocket on the inside, for pens, pencils or business cards.
All the bloody bits, pus and eyeballs are coated with a few coats of clear gloss to give it that wet look.
Like most of what I do, it’s a far cry from my original idea,
but half the fun is letting the materials push you in different directions.