Thursday, June 13, 2013

DIY Tutorial Making a Mannequin

Hi all, its Paula again.  I wanted to share a blog post I did on my blog, pollyanna-reinvents a couple of years ago, that has been pretty popular on Pinterest, about how to make your own paper mache mannequin, pretty much from scratch.

I used newspaper, butcher paper, printed paper, flour, water, glue, clear varnish, some 3/4 inch plywood, a wood stand or metal stand with a hardwood dowel and a handy helper, in my case, my husband Scott. (Or great girl skills works too.)

I own a full size modern vinyl mannequin, the kind they use in stores to display clothing. The first step is to spray the mannequin with pan spray, it helps when its time to release it later.

 Then mix flour and water to the consistency of pancake batter.  Next you cut your strips of newspaper to a manageable size for you.  Dip them in the 'batter' and squeegee them through your fingers to remove excess batter.  Place the battered strip on the plastic mannequin, continue until mannequin area you want to use is covered in a single over lapping layer.  Note that the legs stick out from under my paper mached area, as well as most of the neck, and the arm holes are open.  Allow to dry, this can take a day or two depending on your humidity.

Repeat the process until you have a thickness (I do 4 or 5 layers) which will stand alone.  Next you cut with a razor blade from the neck opening and down one side.  After you pop her off the vinyl mannequin, you will need a pattern to cut 3 wood pieces for the top of her neck, one for her waist (You need to kind of guess using cardboard cutouts and trimming it down until it fits inside her waist when you close her) and one for her base.  The neck and base can be traced around onto newspaper and all three are then cut out of 3/4 inch plywood. 

You will probably want to coat the insides of your mannequin with a clear varnish, to help it to last.

Once you have the waist piece, drill a hole large enough to allow the stand to pass through as it travels to be attached to the neck piece later.  Then put the waist piece inside, using screws to attach it in about 6 places going around her waist.

Now you will use plain white butcher paper to paper mache a double layer to cover the seam you have made by closing her up with strapping tape, the screws at the waist, and the arm holes.

When this is dry do an all over layer of butcher paper to give you a blank pallet to decorate.

Now you assemble your girl by putting the pole up through her body including the base piece of wood which you have checked for a good fit and then through her waist piece, finally attaching the pole to the wood piece that will be her neck.  If you use a wood stand its easy to put a screw down into it.  If its a metal pole you can pound a hardwood dowel section the right size into the metal pole and screw into it through the neck piece.  Next I screw in the end of a wood curtain rod, as they come with a screw sticking out.

Last of all you will put screws through her  paper mache top neck edge to hold the wood and stand framework in place, as well as into the piece you have inserted into the base.

And now the fun begins.  For this mannequin I decided to used strips of words from a French novel.  I used Modpodge to put them in place.  I then used paper lace to trim the neckline and bottom of this imaginary striped bit of lingerie.

Now for one finishing touch.  Because many antique mannequins have a model number or maker's label near the front neck, I thought it would be fun to use a bit of French ephemera, in this case a company logo that lists the clothing articles made by the company, that I found on Graphics Fairy, my go to place for vintage ephemera goodness.  I used my reverse Modpodge method to transfer it to the mannequin, and I love how it looks.

Last of all, our girl received a layer of clear varnish, you can choose a matt or shiny finish, depending on your preference.  The base on which she stands, detail shown above, was a metal floor lamp, striped down to  base and pole.  I have used wooden floor lamps  and even gumball machine bases before and a bird cage stand.  When the base is short like the gumball machine, I insert a hardwood dowel that extends high enough to support the neck piece.  I always try to find a dowel slightly larger than the hole in the metal part, then shave off some at one end of the dowel and pound it in for a super tight joint.

Thanks for coming along for the creation of a paper mache mannequin.  I did know a girl who did a simpler version, without the inserted stand.  She just paper mached across the top and bottom several times when she was done, and stool the mannequin on a plant stand.

I hope you found something useful if you managed to read this long and detailed explanation.

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