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Experiment: Papier Maché (Summer 2014)

01 JUL 2014

Now that I have the drill pump working, and have seen how it works with water, I have been reimagining the substrate. Mainly because the substrate needs to be able to move – not grainy and abrasive, not fibrous and damaging, not super-dense and immoveable.
So, I am looking again at papier maché. A very dilute form of wood pulp that can be moved like water up the 3 metre height of the tower. The process has been:
first – soak the a ream or so of used paper (bleached and unbleached) in water in the sun for several days.
Second – rip and tear the sheets into smaller pieces and leave for a couple more days. Add more water and encourage disintegration.
Third – give the mush a final tear and rip until the maché is fairly uniformly broken. It should be falling to pieces easily, and the largest pieces will be around stamp sized.
Fourth – blend the mush. Add a lot more water to the mush – perhaps one part mush, three parts mush. The outcome will be a uniform mushy pulp. Water.
Fifth – leave to seperate.

There are several benefits to this material:

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I have created a donut shape from the maché, which is now drying. I think that with pressure and starch it should be relatively easy to make each shape. A container is filled with starchy-mush which slowly drains. Pressure is applied, and the mush is slowly compressed into a much less damp form. Excess liquid drains down away. With time and heat the maché and starch solidify.
Its possible that in order to ensure that the machine is invisible, smaller maché units are created that are used like bricks in the final structure. Some kind of bonding material will be required.

01 AUG 2014

Using the papier maché and two circles of different diameters I have been casting donuts – no adhesive used, although the sun is hot and they dry relatively quickly. I have made around 20, and my intention is to use the entire batch shown in the pics above. The form’s dimensions are almost identical to the soil substrate rings that I made last year.

Last week Sandra and I did a few experiments passing the maché through the pump, and they were successful altho the mush didnt make it into the shower tube so I am rethinking how that can work. Its a fairly straightforward problem to solve – larger diameter tube required, and more flexible than a hose.

Experiment Papier Maché is complete as of today. It works, it pumps, it dries, it’s solid.  Next tasks are to hook the pumping process up to a wifi arduino, and incorporate a mechanism that switches to a water source and flushes out old mush while the machine waits (in order to avoid any blockages).

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