Maybe I should really call this "three variations on making a bust"...
Either way, we started with a plastic bust and then duplicated it using a variation of plaster mixes to see which would work best. I say "we" cause I worked on this project with a friend at work in order to find the best way to make busts for displaying jewelry.
First up, we used a bust which had been made with papier mache over a plastic one (then cut into pieces, which I had to put back together again like a jigsaw puzzle, missing a piece or two, hence the odd distortions... its a long story...).
After piecing it back together with masking tape we mixed up a batch of plaster of paris with some PVA glue mixed in to combat brittleness.
I applied the plaster with my fingers, using swirling patterns and leaving small furrows and peaks. Kinda like frosting.
The result is a textured bust which, while retaining that plaster look, has none of the brittleness of plain plaster.
Next, we used a half bust which we used paper mache pulp in first. The pulp we used had too much water in it so it took forever to dry but was nice and strong once it did. Since we didnt want the rough look of the paper pulp showing, we used some plaster bandage over it to even out the texture. We then mixed up a plaster paste using both PVA and a bit of gap filler.
This time I applied the top coat smoothly, using damp fingers. I don't have photos of the back, but in order to make it strong enough to hang on the wall I filled the shoulders with a plaster mix and embedded wire into it.
Lastly, we decided to see what happened if we used paper pulp and mixed it with PVA glue and silicone... Other than the smell (gack) it worked really well. The bust is light but strong, even a bit bendy.
This bust was painted black by someone while I was off work and wasn't smoothed over, but its still an interesting piece and a great way to display light coloured jewelry.
All in all this is my advice:
If you want to make your own bust with plaster, add glue to give it strength or use plaster bandage. Another way would be traditional papier mache.
Whatever you choose, have fun with it. What's the worse that can happen?
I don't know if any of these would survive being dropped but my bet is on the black one.
PS. In editing mode this post is left justified. In preview its centered... and I hate centred posts. So please forgive me for whatever bug got into blogger today.