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Unread 07-14-2015, 01:20 PM   #1
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How to smooth out paper mache after applying gesso?

Hi ^^ I'm new here so please excuse me if this is in the wrong place.

I'm creating a cosplay of Akali from League of Legends. I'm fairly new to the cosplay world so I don't know much about it (I've only ever made an Ahri cosplay before this). I started by making her kamas with 2 pieces of cardboard as the bases and covering them with expanding foam. After I shaved them down to the shape I wanted, I covered with paper mache. I then applied gesso and I got to about 4-5 layers before I realised I didn't smooth out the paper mache and the 8 layers of gesso I was planning to apply then sand doesn't seem like it'll fix it. Are there any ways I could smooth it out as it is with the 5 layers of gesso, or would I have to start over? I've spent a total of 3 weeks on it so far so starting over isn't exactly favourable. Any tips are appreciated ^^
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Unread 07-14-2015, 01:25 PM   #2
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Sand it. If it's not smooth, sand it some more.

Start with a coarser grit paper, maybe 120 or 200. Know that the purpose of sandpaper is to make it smooth by removing material. Don't be too gentle, and don't expect that a couple of swipes with 600-grit is going to make any noticeable difference.

If necessary, after a thorough sanding with coarse paper, build up low areas or cracks with a paperclay slurry, then sand some more.

If you only did a couple layers of paper, be careful that you don't completely sand through the thinnest areas. If you used many layers of paper, you should be fine.

Use progressively finer sandpaper until it's smooth. Then do one more layer of gesso and a light final sanding.

Use at least a half-decent brush for your gesso. If you use a 59-cent chip brush with coarse bristles, the gesso will look textured and bad.

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Unread 07-14-2015, 03:39 PM   #3
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Yea, honestly sanding is the only option you have. Nothing else. Literally, that's it.

But just so you know for the future, you should sand the paper mache before applying the gesso too. In fact, a way WAY easier way to go about this is to sand the paper mache, use PVA glue (the white stuff, you can buy a huge jug of it at a hardware store, it'll be worth it) and brush it on like paint, and it self-smoothes. that way you only have to sand the paper mache, then since the glue dries smooth, you can paint it however you like without it looking bad.
I did that exact method with this sword:
If you look, the blade is really smoothe. It's cardboard filled with expanding foam, and paper mached, then sanded and painted with that same glue. Then painted with the colored paints.
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Unread 07-15-2015, 08:27 AM   #4
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Layers and layers of gesso and sanding.

For future reference, when I made a sword with expanding foam and paper mache, I covered it in paper clay. Paper clay is very easy to sand, and very lightweight when it dries.
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Unread 07-19-2015, 10:27 AM   #5
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Thanks for the reply everyone ^^ I guess it's time to break out the elbow grease.
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