466: Hedwig the Wet-Fold Owl

Exploring my new VOG2 book, there are many lovely things to try but this model uses a method I have not been brave enough to try until now – wet folding.

The idea is to take heavy paper, too thick to fold conventionally (it would crack, split and otherwise be finger-bruisingly impossible to sculpt) and apply WATER to it before coaxing it into shape.

I used watercolour cartridge (27cm square) – a thick board-like paper that snaps when bent dry. Using a damp rag, I applied water to front and back and immediately the sheet transformed into this malleable leather-like slab.

I think the trick is to know how the model goes first (oops, forgot that step) and fold quickly and definitely – changing your mind about where creases go is problematic but the paper is still forgiving.

When the paper dries it keeps the shape you managed to mould into it – as it dries you can touch up and improve on shapes that collapse when really wet, a LOT like sculpture. the result is not perfect – I should have practiced the fold first, “Owl” by Hoang Tien Quyet is a deceivingly simple model that is figuratively owl-like.

I have learned that this technique deserves more experimentation and requires a special sort of concentration and a very gentle touch as wet paper has no tensile strength. You need to look forward to the final form rather than concentrating too much on pre-creasing or sharpness, but am happy with my first go at it.

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