Friday, August 2, 2013


How to make Paper Clay

I fell in love with sculpting with paper mache during my first project five years ago. However, I never really found a recipe that was worth the time and effort and mess that it took to get what I wanted. As a result, I used Celluclay for most projects. However, I recently stumbled upon an incredible blog called, Ultimate Paper Mache where Jonni (the artist and blogger) shares all sorts of tips, tutorials and recipes to help anyone on their way to successfully paper mache-ing. I am blown away by what Jonni can create, but I was especially grateful for the recipe she shared on how to make your own paper mache clay. Hot dog! It is easy as pie, quick, and works like charm!

For my purposes, I ended up altering the recipe just slightly so that I could get the thicker consistency that I like. Here's my version of the recipe but I strongly suggest popping over to Jonni's site where she posts all sorts of details that you might find handy):

Paper Clay:
2 Cups toilet paper
1 Cup regular joint compound (the premixed kind. Jonni recommends not using Dap brand since they changed their product and it doesn't work for the recipe anymore).
3/4 Cups paper mache paste or Elmers glue (much cheaper to use your own paste).
3/4 Cups flour
(The original recipe calls for Linseed Oil, but I didn't really find much difference, other than it was smelly and one more thing to keep out of reach of my boys.)

Start off by soaking your toilet paper in water:
When it is fully wet, remove cardboard center, squeeze out as much water as you can and break up into chunks.
Add all ingredients and mix on medium-high for 2-3 minutes and viola! You are ready to sculpt your heart out! Recipe yields 3 Cups of paper clay.


    Every amateur photographer wants to take great photos of fireworks. The beautiful fireworks displays and photography just seem to go hand in hand. Photographing fireworks can be tricky. Using a digital camera to photograph fireworks makes the process even more difficult. But there are some photography tips that may help get that perfect fireworks photo on the Fourth of July or New Year's eve.
    Get to the event plenty early. Scope out possible photography locations. Great shooting locations aren't necessarily right up front. Often this is the worst location. There will be lots of people. They will obstruct your view. They may knock over your equipment. Also, you will probably be blocking the views of other people. Also, be on the lookout for trees that may block your shots. Often, the best place is away from the crowd. The crowd could even serve as a foreground for your photos.

    Try to incorporate some sort of landmark into your shots for more better fireworks photos. This adds perspective to the photo. Water in the foreground also creates interesting photo opportunities during fireworks displays. If an interesting building or crowd isn't available, try to at least frame your photo with a tree or use a silhouette of a person in the foreground or some similar photography technique.
    Another location item to consider is the direction of the wind. Try to get upwind. Otherwise, a few minutes after the fireworks begin, the smoke will completely obscure your photo shoot.

    Take a tripod. Make sure to set up your tripod in a level area. This is a necessity if you want a great fireworks photo. Your exposure will be much longer than normal photos, so this is an absolute. The camera will record any movement. The camera must be kept absolutely still during the whole exposure in order to get clear photo results.
Make sure your battery is charged. Take an extra battery just to be sure you will be able to photograph the entire fireworks show. Don't forget to take extra memory cards, too. You will be surprised how many photos you will take. Don't be caught during the fireworks finale unable to take any more photographs.

    Use the highest resolution setting possible when shooting fireworks photos. If youave a RAW format option, use it. This will slow down your camera's speed. If this becomes too bothersome, go to the next resolution size. Set the focus to infinity if your camera has this option. Don't use the flash to photograph fireworks. Instead, set the color balance to 'Sunny' or something similar. Set the ISO setting to 100 or ISO 200 to avoid digital camera noise.

    Concentrate most of your photography efforts on the start and ending of the fireworks show. This is because the very first fireworks have a better chance of being surprisingly clear due to the lack of smoke. And the end of the fireworks is always the best. The fireworks finale creates the opportunity to fill your camera viewfinder with multiple fireworks bursts of many colors. It's much easier to capture fireworks on camera during the finale than trying to time your photo shots perfectly during the rest of the fireworks show. Plus, this gives you time to enjoy some of the fireworks yourself.

    Vertical photography shots work better with fireworks than horizontal ones. Vertical shots seem to add movement to the photos. Of course, a great panoramic photo opportunity shouldn't be ignored.
    Follow these photography steps to produce clearer, brighter, more colorful photos of fireworks. But don't forget to also take time to enjoy the dazzling display for yourself.