In the face of my unseemly passion for all things made from wood-pulp (or cotton, or silk) pushed through a screen, I’m incredulous that I’ve never dribbled in papier mache. Making it even more improbable is that I grew up in a newsprint family — my father spent his career in the biz. The first thing Daddy did when he opened the daily paper was to hold a single sheet up to the light and rub it between his fingers to test its quality. If the newspaper was a customer of the mill he managed, he could tell us which of the paper machines the newsprint rolled off– heck, he could probably tell you what which shift it was made on and who the sixth-hand was. He’s long retired, but I’ve seen him do his quality check in the past year.
He used to bring home rolls of paper the height of a tabloid and four feet across for us kids to scribble on — rolls considered too inferior to ship. Man, I wish I had a gargantuan roll of virgin newsprint right now, because the Divine Martha has persuaded be that I might want to make papier mache Easter eggs.
I caught her on television a few days ago and thought that it looked like so much fun, all that wrapping of paper and glue around a mold formed from a balloon blown into your ovoid size of choice. And it tickled something from depths of memory — I’d seen the technique before, in my mother’s kitchen, She and her friend Betty, big round ballons, a basin filled with torn up newspaper…
I’m the smiley pumpkinhead on the right, my brother Ian’s on the left. I was five, he was three, and we were off to knock on the doors of rue DeFranchville in our snowsuits, cunningly hidden under the sheets.
Newsprint, check. Mod Podge, check. I’m off to the Mexican dollar store/party store/bodega for a big bag of balloons. Hmm, I can see a Thanksgiving cornucopia — I’m loving the idea of a monster purple eggplant, and squash and cucumbers and pears.
Catch you later — I’m buying balloons.