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sealing and painting

2162 Views 12 Replies 5 Participants Last post by  MsMeeple
I've been working on some paper maché and have been reading up on how to do it. But there seems to be some differences of opinion about sealing and painting.
Does one paint, then seal
Or seal and then paint?
And how can you do a 'wash' if it isnt sealed first? Won't the moisture get into the paper maché making it soft?

Thanks for any tips!

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first thing is - are you actually planning to wash your halloween prop?

prop joke - the hard ends are snickering... 'cause their stuff still has dust from the first christmas in storage...


seriously - after your paper mache is completely dry - then paint it and then seal it.

... and by "wash" - could you be a bit more specific as to what you mean by this, I can think of several things you might mean.
I did some research on this too when I was building my pumpkin rot this year and there are a bunch of different ways to go about this. What I found was that all agreed that there is a weather barrier somewhere between the prop and the elements.
I myself went with a primer over the paper mache then 3 coats of spar urethane (from the spray can) then a very light sanding and finally my exterior latex paints.
I'm thinking by 'wash' you mean using paint and misting water to get a weathered effect? If so that falls right in along with the last step.

Good luck!
Yeah, by wash I meant mixing the paint with water to get that weathered look.
I'm doing a bone. I checked out stolloween's site and the skull replication page cause that's the kind of look I want. I dont have old english so was just planning on using brown acrylic paint...then the rubbed off white and then the black wash.

Other sites say to seal it first and then start the painting process. Just worried about the moisture from the paint wash making the maché soft.

So Spartan, you sealed first eh?

yep, I sealed first. I can't find the thread I saw about it but you're probably safe any way you go as long as you dry between coats. Another thing I remembered is that sealing last may give you a semi gloss appearance, just fyi.
Thanks....the elbow actually turned out really well so I didnt want to mess it up with a bad paint job! I think I'll seal first :)

MsM ~ I was worried about the same exact thing. What I ended up doing this year was buying a can of Kilz primer/sealer and using that first over the paper mache. Then, once I get the corpsing and paint gig the way I want it, I will probably use the spray clear matte sealer I have just to make it even stronger (hopefully). The clear spray I use is pretty darn good. The few props I previously used it on have survived years upon years of bad weather and still look great.
Thanks msmello :) We dont have that brand of sealer/primer so I'll just use a regular primer.
I'm working on part of an arm to have stick out of our coffin bar with the bottle opener behind it.
It doesnt really have to be SUPER weather proof since it will be under a tent every year and stored in a basement. I do want it to survive many years though!

yeah - sorry ... spartan is right. if you seal it last you get a glossy look that tends to glow slightly in the black light. Paint over the seaalnt. Sorry I wasn't more clear.
paper mache painting

I usually put some kind of primer coat on the paper mache; it seals the surface and helps to even out the background before I apply whatever paint treatment I'm going to use. I found that it didn't really matter what I used as that first primer coat. After I was finished , I do try to apply some sort of sealant, even if the prop is going to be in a sheltered area.
I did find that Thompson's Water Seal works really well. It comes in a variety of formulations- stain, high sheen, low sheen, et.al.
Well it has rained 4 days this week and my paper mache projects have gotten through it all. My big pumpkin rot had 2 layers of spar urethane and a layer of clear sealer (both from spray cans) underneath my latex paints and my smaller pumpkins were sealed with two coats of clear concrete sealer from a spray can. That's what I happened to have laying around the garage. Today it's rained the last 6 hours and they all seem to be holding up well. There are a couple of small spots that are soft but they should firm back up after the rain ends as they did earlier this week.

I'm planning on keeping my pumpkin rot covered from now on when it rains just in case, but I'm leaving the paper mache pumpkins out in the elements till Halloween to see how they do.

I've always wondered about the Thompson's water seal. Do you use it before or after painting?
I apply the water seal as the very last thng. Anything you try to apply on top of the water seal wiil just bead up and roll off. Hope this helps.
Thanks for all the tips.
I finished the project. I ended up putting a primer on first. Letting it dry well and then 'wash' and 'dab' painting with acrylic paint. Need help with my wash and dab techniques, that's for sure! And then sealed it with a matte lacquer.

My coffin bar will now have a paper maché elbow sticking out of the side with a bottle opener underneath :)


Spartan: glad to hear your paper maché is holding up well in all the rain!
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