Artist, photographer, designer—Gina believes that the main purpose of the arts is to enrich lives, making life a more pleasant experience.
What Is Paverpol?
Paverpol is a water-based, environmentally-friendly fluid that hardens fabric. Its original color is white, but it will dry as transparent in a few hours. (In past years, the Paverpol company has also made this material in bronze, grey and black.) The final hardening process takes between 1 and 2 weeks, depending on the temperature. Paverpol artwork is weather-resistant after hardening completely. It will withstand rain, wind, sun, snow and frost. Paverpol is great to combine with all kinds of natural materials. It is also safe for children! You can work with bare hands—no problem.
In this article, you'll learn:
- More about how this material works
- Step-by-step instructions for making your own 8" Paverpol figurine (including photos and videos)
- My personal experience with Paverpol and the certification workshop
How Does This Material Work?
Paverpol adheres to almost all materials except plastic, and unlike most hardeners, it does NOT deteriorate polystyrene foam. Tools and hands can simply be washed in warm water. There is no need to wear gloves. When working with Paverpol, always protect your work space with a plastic tablecloth or plastic sheeting. Paverpol will not stick to the plastic while you are working. Paverpol dries fast, but slowly enough to allow plenty of working time.
Paverpol is an essential tool in many mixed media projects. It can be combined with fabric, paper, silk, metal, baked polymer clay, chamois leather, self-hardening clay, polystyrene foam, dried flowers, paper mache, wood, plaster, metal, glass, pottery, on canvas and more! Since it is environmentally-friendly, it's the perfect binder for recycle art.
Paverpol fabric hardener adds a whole new dimension to the way artists work by providing a new essential for their toolboxes! This one-step water-based creme gives sculptors, dollmakers, mixed media artists, painters, interior and exterior designers, theatre set crews, quilters and fabric artists a serious new medium to expand their scope of work, either indoors or outside.
What's the History of Paverpol?
Paverpol was developed by Dutch artists in the early 1990s as a user-friendly and environmentally-sound replacement or alternative for resin. It is the leading textile hardener/fiber sculpting medium in the world and the first to be awarded the AP seal for non-toxic by the Arts and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI).
Important Tips for Working With Paverpol
- DO NOT pour Paverpol down your drain.
- Always keep a bucket of water at your workstation and rinse hands and brushes frequently. While Paverpol is water-based and non-toxic, it is made to cure rock-hard, and you don’t want it stuck in your plumbing.
- Periodically clean the bucket; let the material in the water settle, pour off the water into flower garden, etc. The solids that have collected at the bottom of the bucket can be disposed of in any trash receptacle.
- Don't forget: Paverpol sticks to everything but plastic, so you will want to cover your work area with a plastic drop cloth.
- If you are using transparent Paverpol, you can custom-color it with dry pigments or acrylic craft paint (no more than 2% liquid color by volume). Remember, it will generally dry darker.
Basic Supplies Gallery
What You Need to Make Your Sculpture
To complete one 8" figurine, you will need:
- Clean, 100% cotton t-shirt
- 1 small wire skeleton (check out the video below for simple instructions on making one)
- 1/2 liter Paverpol fabric hardener
- Foil sheets
- Floral or masking tape and Pavercotton
- Stir stick
- Cutting pliers
- 1 little bottle of acrylic paint (gold)
- Paper towels
- Plastic table cloth or garbage bag
- Plastic gloves (if you don’t want to get dirty hands—Paverpol is NOT harmful or toxic in any way)
Step 1: Prepare the Wire Skeleton
Crumple the aluminum foil around the wire skeleton to form muscles, breasts, shoulders, head, legs, etc. If desired, you may use a styrofoam egg pushed down over the top wire skeleton loop for the head.
Squeeze the foil firmly around the skeleton—it will make your figure stronger. Secure any loose pieces with tape to make wrapping easier.
Step 2: Dip the Fabric Strips
Cut one side of the t-shirt into 12 strips, approximately 6" x 2.5". Cut 3 pieces approximately 11 x 11".
Dip fabric strips one by one into Paverpol, and squeeze out excess. Do not wring or twist—this will make your saturation uneven. Instead, roll the fabric up as you go.
The fabric should be well-saturated (knead the Paverpol into the fabric) but not dripping wet. This procedure makes it easier to wrap your form, as you will be able to unroll it as you would a gauze bandage.
Step 3: Wrap the Figure
Begin to wrap the figure "mummy" style from head to toe. Again, wrapping it firmly will make a stronger figure.
Step 4: Pose and Attach to the Base
When finished with the first wrapping, bend the figure into the desired pose and set on base or in a hole drilled into the base. Attach the figure to the base with a little Paverpol. When fully dry, it will be solidly attached.
Step 5: Dress Your Figure
You can experiment with dressing the figure while the draping fabric is still dry. When you decide how you want your figure dressed, follow the above instructions for saturating fabric with Paverpol. These videos will give more detail on the process.
Step 6: Make the Wig
Make your wig by saturating a tuft of Pavercotton or any loose cotton or roving with your desired color of Paverpol. Gently pull the tuft to the desired form to make your wig. Once you have the wig situated on the head, finer strands can be pulled with a toothpick for a natural effect.
Step 7: Dry and Paint Your Work
You can use a hairdryer to help speed the initial drying time (but NOT a heat gun). After about an hour, your figure is set enough to paint with acrylic. You can dry brush, highlight, accent, etc. In approximately 48 hours, your figurine will be hard; it is fully cured in about 2 weeks. If you have painted it with acrylic paint and plan to put it outside, a coating of Paverpol Varnish is recommended.
My Paverpol Journey
Several years ago, I saw an image of a sculpture online with the name Paverpol underneath. I was immediately intrigued, as I am always looking for new art materials to try. I've always wanted to create sculptures, but stone carving or bronze work was never something I wanted to do, although I loved to see them and admired those who could work in these media.
I decided to do some more research. I bought a container of this material called Paverpol because I loved the way the fabric draped and folded—and I wanted to try Paverpol with my sculpture and advanced 8th grade art students. My students instantly loved it.
All About the Paverpol Certification Workshop
As my experimental phase with this material began, my enthusiasm grew every day. I discovered that Paverpol is weather-resistant, and it can withstand extreme frost. This triggered my plan to make a nice garden statue, and I got to work.
In the certification workshop, I learned how to make a beautiful garden sculpture (or you may keep it indoors) from an old t-shirt. Using Paverpol, a wire armature, aluminum foil and strips of old t-shirt, I created a sitting figure in bronze. I then highlighted it with various powdered pigments and embellishments as desired, such as stockinette, Pavercolors, Pavercotton (a material that is great for adding hair) and Paverplast (a material that gives the appearance of stone). After two weeks of curing, the statue was ready for the outdoors and completely weatherproof for all seasons.
It was so much fun and easy, and no experience was required. The sculpture can sit on a bench, pot plant or brick in the garden, as she is weatherproof. A Paverpol sculpture will enhance any garden or home setting!
Student Work Gallery
© 2016 Gina Welds Hulse
Donna on January 29, 2020:
Where do you purchase this product?Note from Amazon says "Out of stock,don't know when if ever this product will be back"!What up with availability????
Shauna L Bowling from Central Florida on January 11, 2017:
This is so interesting, Gina. You're a very talented lady. I love that you teach others how to be creative.
Preserving baby pants to use as planters is a wonderful idea. I've seen them made from plaster, but your idea is more creative. It not only re-purposes old items, but creates one-of-a-kind items with stories behind them. Living memories, if you will. Brilliant!