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I have made a large cauldron out of a utility bucket, cardboard ribs and duct tape like many other on this site have. The other day I put on the first layer of mâché. Everything went on great. I used stolloween's recipe from his site. 6cups flour, 1cup liquid starch, 1cup white glue and water. After it was done, and it had dried to dampness, I put it on a high shelf. When I came back today, it had cracked and split very badly. In fact, I have to completely remove this layer and start anew. Now in the garage, where the cauldron was stored, there are 2 large heaters that keep it warm and it's quite hot by the ceiling, but no direct air was on the cauldron. Do you think this heat caused my splitting? I have never had this happen before.

TIA for any help provided!
 

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I made a cauldron similar to what you did, but i didn't use mache. I used tape to cover the ribs and build the roundness of the cauldron. Then I used joint compound for drywall, to cover the tape. Went on super easy and took way less time than mache. I used 3 coats and it took about 2 hours... not counting the dry time. I used light compound and it was weight wise light enough to carry with one arm. Plus the joint compound was like 5 bucks at HD. Just an idea.
 

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I'm not sure what would cause this and you may go with advice from someone more knowledgeable. ..but I'll throw in my two cents anyway. I always use fabric to finish any paper mache project. You simply dip strips of cloth in white glue. I finish with a heavy coat of paint and it's pretty weather resistant. I also think the durability of the cloth will prevent cracking. Also as a side note I'm very impatient and often put small paper mache projects in the oven at low temps to dry faster and I've never had a cracking problem. Maybe there is too much space between the "ribs"?
 

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weaz - this might be a long-shot, but you might want to ask the Master himself: stolloween. I don't know how hard it would be to get ahold of him, but it definitely would be worth it to try. The answer would certainly help others here who might have the same problem in the future.
HM
 

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Crack ....Smack...come with the territory...just apply more layers.

But like it was said above...cloth is great.....did you have some type of base, like tape.......but when all else fails, just add more layers..

My recipe- 50/50 Elmer's glue and water and news paper with all the factory edges ripped off
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Ya I taped it up good with duct tape. I'll have to play with adding more layers over it because it shrank when it cracked and will really affect the shape.


Thx for all the help guys!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
weaz - this might be a long-shot, but you might want to ask the Master himself: stolloween. I don't know how hard it would be to get ahold of him, but it definitely would be worth it to try. The answer would certainly help others here who might have the same problem in the future.
HM
I sent a pm, but I don't know if he visits here often. I will happily share any info I receive.
 

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I've had heat cause splitting, cracking, separation etc.. I just go over it. Always better if you can to dry around room temp and fans if you need to dry quicker. Least I find.
 

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Same, I made 7 giant bobble head costumes for a tap dance routine, my first couple of heads really cracked, I had to go over them again and make repairs. So the last 5 heads I applied 3-4 layers of mache and then let them dry, this got rid of the problem. I also use Stalloween's recipe, I let them dry a couple of days before applying another 2-3 layers.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Same, I made 7 giant bobble head costumes for a tap dance routine, my first couple of heads really cracked, I had to go over them again and make repairs. So the last 5 heads I applied 3-4 layers of mache and then let them dry, this got rid of the problem. I also use Stalloween's recipe, I let them dry a couple of days before applying another 2-3 layers.
So let me get this straight, you applied 3-4 layer all at once? I was always under the impression that you had to do one layer at a time.
 

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Rutherford Manor Haunt
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Correct, I was using a huge beach ball as my form, I suspected the single layer made the beach ball more susceptible to the temp fluctuations leading to the cracking. I figured more layers would stabilize the temperature issue and add more weight to compress the beach ball form so I applied 3 layers, one right after the other, and let them dry a 2-3 days.

 

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I'd suggest asking Scott Stoll (Stolloween) too but I'd guess the heat may have been one reason. I've bought several of his pieces off Etsy & when one arrived broken he was super helpful on how to repair & even sent a whole new replacement piece.
 

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Like some of the others have stated, I too believe the heat played a part in your piece cracking and shrinking. My guess is that it was too hot in the room and the surface of the damp paper dried too quickly, while some of the moisture was trapped against the duct tape, which caused it to crack, peel apart in areas and shrink. Was the cranking worse on the side(s) closer to the heat source? Was the bottom of the piece still damp when you checked in on it?

My advice would be to simply add more layers to cover up the cracking, or if the cracking is really bad to cut off that section and redo it. Next time, you might also want to dry it slower and more evenly.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thx for all the help you guys. I'm gonna try the multiple layers and dry it on the floor.
 

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Crack ....Smack...come with the territory...just apply more layers.

But like it was said above...cloth is great.....did you have some type of base, like tape.......but when all else fails, just add more layers..

My recipe- 50/50 Elmer's glue and water and news paper with all the factory edges ripped off

I was reading and saw your suggestion to use cloth- what kind of cloth? I'm working on a giant pumpkin sculpture and i want it to be smooth and was worried about using newspaper and it being pretty rough still. After reading the original post now I'm worried about cracking as well
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Redid everything yesterday. Added a bit more water to thin my paste and put on 4 coats, alternating direction, all at once. Dried on the floor away from the direct heat. This morning, no cracks. So far so good. I'll recheck in a few days and probably add 2 more coats for strength.
 
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