Part 6: Surface texture and coloring
For the surface detail and texture, I am using a commercial paper mâché product called Celluclay. Celluclay is available in a gray (unbleached) or white (bleached) from most hobby and craft stores. To color or tint the material, just add some water-based tempera paint to the mixing water. Add the paint and water mixture first, and then add additional water while mixing until you achieve your desired clay-like consistency. You can easily paint the paper mâché when dry, but this way the color goes clear through, and not just on the surface where cracks or scrapes could show.
[caption id="attachment_264" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Water-based tempera paint can be added to the water to color-tint the mixture. "][/caption]
Work the material to break up any lumps or dry spots, and then start spreading small amounts over the foam. Try to keep the thickness down to a quarter inch or less to improve drying. At this thickness, the material should dry almost completely overnight, and be ready for another coat the next day. You can store any mixed Celluclay you have left over in a zip-lock bag for perhaps a day or two, after that you risk having it get moldy.
[caption id="attachment_265" align="aligncenter" width="234" caption="Spread the paper mache mixture over the surface of the foam in a thin layer, working it into the cracks and surface of the foam."][/caption]
You can build the material up slightly thicker for shaping, or work detail into it using standard plastic, wood, or metal clay sculpting tools. Dip them in water and then wipe with a paper towel to remove any mâché that dries out on the surface. Once the material is dry, you can drill, carve, sand and paint the surface.
[caption id="attachment_266" align="aligncenter" width="245" caption="The foam head and base are completely covered with the tinted Celluclay mixture and allowed to dry. A thin coating of "natural" Celluclay (sans paint) whitens the teeth."][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_267" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Glyphs for the side panels of the case are formed from tinted brown Celluclay on a sheet of PVC plastic. Once dry, these will pull right off the sheet and are ready to be hot glued to the sides of the case."][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_268" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Glyphs reference"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_269" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The feathered serpent panel, based on some glyphs found on the Internet."][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_270" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="The Quetzalcoatl panel, based on a book illustration."][/caption]
After gluing the glyphs onto the side panels, I finished installing some LED lighting and effects, and then sealed the paper mâché shell with a coat of epoxy. Several coats of spray-on clear coat might work as well, but the epoxy adds some additional rigidity to the surface and binds everything together. (Scrubbing it with a steel brush restores some of the matte finish.)
[caption id="attachment_271" align="aligncenter" width="219" caption="The finished Quetzalcoatl case mod."][/caption]
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