Experimenting with paper mashe ultimately included experimenting with form making. If the recipe we discover is to be used as a building material we must also be in a position to replicate the production process and hand it over to the building team.
At first we were working only with the random bits and pieces of material we had on site, mostly styrofoam and scrappy fire wood. This could only take us so far and somewhat limited our exploration, so we took a field trip to Aurovilles’ EcoService, to dig around in random piles of rubbish. There we found some plastic sheets, some wood, and some paper, that was helpful for some time. Eventually, we sourced some 1×2 wood rippers, lumber scraps, from a local mill.
Within the context of the ripper molds we have tried some variation. The molds have several block forms, approx. 6 – 15cm x 35cm forms, and 1 or 2 35cm x 35cm square forms. First we sealed the bottom of the molds with plywood and plywood coated in plastic scraps. Both were unsuccessful because water could not escape and the bottom of the block could not dry as fast as the top, if at all. Next, we pried the plywood off and attached a nylon mesh to the bottom of the form. This also has its weaknesses, though the bottom of the block gets air and water can escape, you can’t press the block out of the mold.
The newest member of the mold family is the same wood ripper form, coated in wax (to prevent the gluey mixes from sticking), and layed on top of the nylon mesh (unattached). This way we can flip the mold, the block can dry from both sides, and it is easier to remove! Now to finalize a good mix…