Great for weddings, toga parties, even classroom projects, paper mache Roman columns are an easy way to recreate the classical without spending much money. You can make the size of the finished column as large or small as you need. Children working with wire mesh and wire cutters should always have adult supervision.
Things You'll Need
- Chicken wire
- Wire cutters
- Decoupage paint
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Making the Columns
Print a diagram of the type of Roman column you would like to make to assist in the model making. Doric is the simplest form, with Ionic and Corinthian more technically difficult. A basic Doric form consists of a central cylinder with a top and bottom base and can have ridges or smooth sides. Painting on, rather than sculpting, the additional detail of the Ionic and Corinthians forms makes things much simpler.
Cut a rectangle of mesh wire sheeting (chicken wire) long enough to roll into a tube that can act as the basic column structure. Secure the wire into column form by twisting the open jagged edges together using wire pincers, twisting the open ends into the opposite mesh and smoothing down the seam. Wear snag-proof gloves to guard against scratches.
Draw out two equal circles on a piece of paper that are large enough to act, when manipulated, as the bottom and top pieces of the column. Creating paper templates before cutting the shapes out of chicken wire reduces mistakes and helps create equal bases. Attach the paper to the wire temporarily with a little school glue or a piece of tape.
Cut out the two circles placing a 2-inch slit into the outer edge. Use the slit to help overlap the circle into a mound or shallow cone shape. Manipulate the bottom edge to create a rim by bending the bottom of the mound downwards around the entire length; use the wire pincers to help bend the wire. The finished base should be rounded on the top with a flat cuff.
Create a sturdier bottom and top base by covering the open ends with another flat circle to act as a lid. Attach to the base piece by twisting the jagged edges from each piece together and smoothing out the seam. This will make covering the bottom and top of the column with paper mache easier.
Form the column by placing the top of the cone bases into the bottom and top of the mesh cylinder. Pushing the pieces together and gently pinching the overlapping wire should be enough to hold the form in place until the paper mache covering. If not, or for increased structural strength, use craft wire c as a connector wherever needed to hold the pieces together. Trim any loose ends with wire cutters.
Mix together equal parts of flour and water in a large bowl to make the paper mache. Add a pinch of salt to prevent mold from forming. Alternatively mix two parts white school glue with one part water for a sticker paste. Stir until ingredients are completely blended.
Tear old newspaper or tissue paper (depending on how fine a finish is desired) into thin stripes or squares and dip into the paper mache mix before placing all over the column mold. Continue to layer pieces of paper dipped in the paste over the form until completely covered with a cohesive smooth finish.
Allow the paper mache to dry completely before painting the entire column with white acrylic paint. The white paint provides a base coat and adds density to finishing colors.
Detail the column with paints creating architectural details in black and shadows in gray and brown. A coating of decoupage paint provides the ideal protective top coat for the finished Roman column.