Art-making, as I said in a recent post, can often involve as much engineering as painting. Art-making can also take you down some extremely odd paths. To wit:
This past week I had a book out from the library called 500 Handmade Dolls: Exploration of the Human Form (somewhat mis-titled, as quite a few of the included pieces can hardly be called "human") and got inspired to make some paper wings for a doll. I had a bunch of pieces of kraft paper (which in my last art-making experiment had been soaked in a bucket for varying lengths of time to discover the optimum soaking time for getting rid of sizing before the paper started to disintegrate) and they were nice and crinkly, but I wanted them to be softer, more translucent, more leathery-skin-looking. Like grease-soaked paper. I mentally reviewed my available list of oily substances: cooking oil? would get nasty and rancid. Jojoba oil would not turn, but no way was I going to waste expensive jojoba on an experiment. What I had on hand that I thought would grease up paper nicely was petroleum jelly-based skin cream.
So I took a section of paper and a wide flat brush and the tube of goo and started painting. Unfortunately, it didn't want to sink in, and I realized that it is usually helped along by the warmth of the skin, so... into the microwave, at 40%, for about 20 seconds. Then it was *too* greasy, so I folded it into another piece of brown paper and burnished the whole package with my hands. What I was left with was two pieces of flexible, slightly translucent, slightly oily brown paper. In retrospect, maybe I should have colored the paper before I greased it up. I think it may still take textile paint pretty well, which is translucent itself. Will post pics of the results later. In any case, my sister suspects I am a loon for this kind of pursuit.
Edited 9-13-08 because I finally remembered to put this pic up. I cut two pieces of copper wire the same length and folded them simultaneously into wing-ish-shapes (rather than shape one and then try to match it - never had much success that way), then covered them with the oiled paper, trimmed to shape, folded the edges over and glued them in place. Still haven't tried painting them, but one of these days one of my creations will cry out for oiled brown paper wings and I'll be ready!