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How creative individuals have been using chicken wire in paper mache?

How can I make use of chicken wire in paper mache?

Using chicken wire in paper mache is just another way that this material shows us its incredible versatility. Chicken wire is a great option for use around the farm, the home and industrial settings. Other uses include deer fencing, stucco netting, tree and shrub protection, garden perimeter fencing and window guards. As a craft project, we can use chicken wire for paper mache.

What exactly is paper mache

The direct translation of paper mache is, ‘chewed paper. It is a composite material and consists of pulp or paper pieces. In this case it is reinforced with the use of chicken wire. An adhesive such as starch, glue or wallpaper paste is then used to bind the two materials together. Using chicken wire in paper mache is a smart choice due to its durability.

half tree trunk made of mache paper and chicken mesh
Chicken mesh can be used as a barrier against deer, chicken, tree and window protection to make figures of different types and sizes.

Structural view

The innovative hexagonal design of the chicken wire lends to the strength and integrity that it has to offer. It is a lighter weight mesh and can be used conveniently in a wide array of places. Some common specifications that the chicken wire comes in are,

  • 17, 18, 20 or 22 gauge
  • 1-2 inch hexagonal mesh
  • PVC vinyl coated (VC)
  • Galvanized after weave (GAW)
  • Galvanized before weave (GBW)

Please note that all finishes are not available with all specifications.

Why use chicken wire for paper mache?

The structural integrity of the chicken wire makes it a smart choice for the foundation of a paper mache masterpiece. Wet, mashed up paper coupled with an adhesive such as glue can become quite heavy. The reinforcement needs to be able to accommodate for the added weight and the structural demands that the craftwork will demand.

Anti-corrosive properties are vital, seeing that the chicken wire will be exposed to a moist, slightly acidic environment. This is due to the wet, adhesive heavy paper pulp being laid directly around the chicken wire. Using chicken wire with paper mache makes the process easier and more cost effective.

Due to its intelligent design, using chicken wire in paper mache projects allows the creator to manufacture larger, more impressive works of art that will always create interest.

pig made of paper mache and chicken mesh in progress
The chicken mesh together with the wet paper mixed with adhesive can make the sculpture heavy.

What does the process look like?

The chicken wire forms an integral part of the process, therefore it is important to first loosen the chicken wire, then unroll it and have it ready for use. The chicken wire frame will first need to be constructed before we can begin getting into the paper mache.

Tools needed would be a set of pliers and wire cutters. Gloves should also be worn. The correct size of chicken wire would then need to be cut in order to facilitate the size and shape of your artwork. Extra pieces of wire can be used to fill up any missing spaces.

One option is to make use of duct tape to cover any sharp edges. This is especially important when working with children.
The water and chosen adhesive solution should be thoroughly mixed and the pieces of paper torn. The sizes of the torn up paper will vary greatly, depending on your individual vision.

The torn pieces of paper can now be sufficiently covered in the water and adhesive solution, and the layering process should begin. You should allow your first layer to dry out completely and make an attempt to smooth out any and all edges.

Depending on your goal, once the above steps are completed, you can fold or scrunch up larger pieces of paper to start giving your sculpture its shape. The larger pieces of paper can be secured with duct tape or masking tape. Another layer of paper and adhesive solution should be added until the desired shape is attained.

The great thing about using chicken wire in a paper mache sculpture is that you can easily add onto the existing sculpture with ease. The material is easy to work with and extremely durable.

Using chicken wire in paper mache
Chicken wire is an important part of the process, before using the mesh must be loosened.

Uses of chicken wire paper mache

For those that have retired or have some extra time on their hands, creating crafts of chicken wire with paper mache will be a good past time.

Kids can also get involved in the paper mache making activity. The art form is safe and is even introduced at certain schools as an art subject. The ‘messiness’ of mixing pieces of paper with water and glue has great allure for young kids.

Using chicken wire in paper mache has become a way for artists and individuals to earn a sustainable living. Children, the elderly and individuals from rural areas have been using chicken wire paper mache sculptures to feed their families. Thanks to its cost effectiveness and ease of access, these individuals can also make an honest living.

In certain cultures and tribes, chicken wire paper mache has been seen as a sign of respect. Members of villages create sculptures by using chicken wire and paper mache and give them as gifts to the leaders or elders of the villages.

On a larger scale, chicken wire based paper mache sculptures have been creating sustainability projects in certain parts of the world. In Africa, skills workshops are held on a large scale. Communities of rural villages face many struggles and one of the main problems is sustainable skills development.

pig made of paper mache and chicken mesh
Sculptures made of mache paper based on chicken wire It has become popular that there are places where they compete.

The added benefits of chicken wire paper mache

Using chicken wire in paper mache is a great way to get people involved in a hobby. It does not cost a lot and a decent living can be made out of selling the paper mache sculptures. The entire process focuses on using simple items and is fun for everyone involved.

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