By Jan Cox

As I wandered through the Blue Goose Gallery in Chester, CA, my eyes lit upon the work of Papier Mache Artisan, Gayle Bower. Looking closely, I was astounded to see the beautiful creations she was able to make using old newspapers, glue, and various molds.

Papier mache is a French word meaning ‘to make the paper malleable’ so it can take any shape when glue is added. Gayle loves to work with this medium for two reasons; it is green art—the reuse of materials, and it is unstructured which she says, “fills my need to be spontaneous.” She likens it to “being a kid in a candy store.” Her pieces include bowls, boxes, vases, clocks, platters, mirrors, wall hangings, lamps and their shades and even earrings.

To create these objects, she begins with newspapers which she tears up (her therapeutic work) and then adds a binder of her secret glue recipe. Once it is a “gooey mess,” she places it over various molds. She also uses coffee filters, printer paper or even handmade paper for finishing touches or special effects. Her bowls are strong enough to hold fruit, popcorn, nuts, etc. and can be sponged out. Inspiration for her pieces comes from just about anything including nature, magazines, television and even dreams. Most projects take about two full newspapers and must dry for a day or two between each layer. The more layers the stronger the object.

Bower has always been interested in the arts and took art courses in college and after. She has dabbled in knitting, weaving, painting, pottery, glass and wood. Although she has worked with papier mache for years, she became serious about the medium after retiring from her profession as a psychotherapist. Watch for some new mixed-media creations coming soon.

Gayle Bower’s work can be found exclusively at Blue Goose Gallery in Chester where she has been a member since it opened. She will also take orders on commission. She can be reached at [email protected] or at Blue Goose Gallery at 607 Main Street, Chester, 530-258-2600.