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Jim Seffens Studio
Phone +1 212 246 1453
Contact jim@jimseffens.com

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jimtitle
My background in crafts and art is a combination of self-taught skills and on the job training. My first experiences with craft were of a practical nature while growing up in the village of Sebring, Ohio. There my grandfather re-built antique furniture, my father made fishing tackle, and my mother was a seamstress. There were projects all around and ready invitations to help and learn.

Papier-mache entered my life in 1980 when I began working in the studio of Nicolas Cortes. At first I provided most of the wood-working components needed for the display items that we produced. In time I learned sculpting, mold-making, and casting in papier-mache.

Working alone since Nicolas' death in 1994, I continue to explore the medium of papier-mache testing its limits in size, detail, finishing potential, and functionality. My work in papier-mache was featured on the PBS program Antiques Roadshow, FYI in 2005.

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studio
My studio has long been a source for professional designers. Sculpture services available include wood construction, mixed media assembly, modelling, molding, limited-quantity casting, and finishing. All finished work is carefully packed, and wood-crating for export is also provided when needed.

Design areas that I have served include visual merchandising, store interior, home interior, furniture, theatre, and fine art. Projects have included pattern work for bronze hardware and fittings, papier-mache display forms, furniture construction, decorative items, and masks.

On-time project delivery is of primary importance, and scheduling is often the first consideration when approached with a potential project. If a project is within the studio's capabilities we arrange to review drawings and requirements with the designer. A formal written bid generally follows within 2 or 3 days.


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masks
I took up the mask-making challenge in 1995. Trial and error lead to the development of a basic mask armature that made allowance for the shrinkage and warpage inherent in papier-mâché. Upon this armature I can build the mask pattern in clay with reasonable assurance that the final papier-mâché product will be wearable.

The mask collection continues to grow with new designs added every year. There are now more than 40 designs in the collection.

In addition to my own mask design work I provide custom mask-making services to costume designers for the special masks used in theatrical productions.

featheredbirdspacetribalspacebigbabyspaceharlequin
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puppetspacearistocratspaceoldmanspacemarthawashington
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yaguispacehalfvenitianspaceibisspacereindeer
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headlinespacejollyoldelfspacecagespacegreenman

facadespacegenericspacemaninhatspaceoakleaf



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toys
The Toys and small sculpture rely on a construction technique used in certain papier-mâché toys of the 1820's. While the bulk of the item is made of papier-mâché, the legs are carved of wood and dovetailed into the body.

Ears, manes, tails, and horns are formed separately and set into pre-formed channels or holes drilled into the papier-mâché.

horsespacetribalspacebigbabyspaceharlequin
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puppetspacerhinocerosspacepolarbearspace

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heads
The studio collection includes dozens of molds for papier-mâché millinery heads and other display heads. Most of these were the work of Nicolás Cortés, and some date back to the 1960's.

The heads shown here are entirely hand-made and hand-finished. The special finishes developed for these pieces are built up of multiple layers of casein and shellack, with repeated hand-sandings between coatings.

featheredbirdspacerbsmallspacebabyspace


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medium
Pâpier-mâché, in one form or another, has been produced for centuries. There are a number of distinctly different processes for forming objects out of paper and paste.
The particular process and the materials that I use can be directly linked to the methods used to make papier-mâché manniquins and forms in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Basic papier-mâché consists of paper, a binder, a sealant, and a finish. The specific materials that I use are bogus, card-middle, and red flex papers; dextrin paste; amber shellack to seal and harden; and casein based paints along with blonde shellack for finishing.

To create a new item in papier-mâché I first sculpt the shape in plasticene. From this model I make a specialized version of a plaster mold. The papier-mâché begins as large sheets of paper that are coated with paste. These sheets are torn into small pieces that are laid overlapping into the molds and pressed by hand into shape. Multiple layers are formed and all pressed tightly together. The papier-mâché is pulled from the mold while still wet and air dried on wire racks.

Finishing papier-mâché can be quite a long process. A number of different finishes have been developed at the studio, each requiring its own program. The coatings are laid in a particular order, their composition modified along the way. The finishing sequence is similar to the old wood-finishers' dictum of working "lean to fat".


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contact
If you have questions or comments regarding my work or to arrange a studio visit, please email jim@jimseffens.com


If you would like to place an order or discuss custom services please call me at 212 246 1453

The studio LOCATION is in Long Island City (Queens), New York. It is easily reached by subway: take the 7 or G train to the Courthouse Square stop; or the E or M train to 23rd Street – Ely Avenue.
By car the studio is near the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, and the Queens Midtown Tunnel.

MAIL may be sent to:
J. Seffens
43-50 11th Street, Unit 106
Long Island City, NY 11101


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Design and realization by neogejo