WASHINGTON (CAP) - As newspapers around the nation continue to fold, a CAP News investigation shows that the problems facing that industry are also causing plenty of "collateral damage" - and no one knows that better than the embattled papier mache community.
"For years, newspapers have provided a cheap and reliable source of the paper used for our projects," said Alison Fermeson, president of the Washington-based Papier Mache Society. "Let's face it, we're not going to go into Staples and buy 24-pound stock for our papier mache tiger masks, as cute and enjoyable as they are."
Also at risk, according to Fermeson, are such popular projects as globes - made by applying papier mache around a blown-up balloon - and funny long-eared dogs.
"I can tell you how we make the dogs, but then I'd have to kill you," said Fermeson, adding, "Just a little papier mache humor there."
The concerns come in the wake of complaints from America's puppy breeders, who say a newspaper shortage could severely impact public interest in the dogs they breed.
"In Denver, after the Rocky Mountain News went under, we saw an immediate dropoff," said Labrador retriever breeder Kevin McGill of Aurora, Colo., noting that potential dog owners are concerned about stains to their floors and carpets. "They don't call it paper training for nothing," he explained.
Attempts to use other methods, such as laying down torn-out pages of Sports Illustrated, have proven unsuccessful, reports McGill. "Those glossy pages just aren't as absorbent," he said. "The pee just rolls right off A-Rod's face."
And in Seattle, where the Post-Intelligencer recently went Web-only, seafood vendors at the venerable Pike Place Market have found themselves struggling to preserve their wares.
"You can't wrap fish in a website," noted vendor Gary Cantowski. "Well, you can, but it's not exactly cost effective."
Add that to the disappointment of children who will no longer be able to copy comic panels using Silly Putty ("A-Rod's pee-stained face will not come off Sports Illustrated onto the Silly Putty," confirmed a Crayola representative), and you have thousands of people praying newspapers can mount a comeback.
"I know things look bad now, but I'm hoping that at the end of the day, people just won't be willing to give up their papier mache," said Fermeson. When asked if she thought people might also not be willing to give up serious, in-depth journalism, she said, "Oh, sure, maybe that too. But more the papier mache."
Meanwhile, representatives of the National Organization for Decoupage have noted that their pastime remains viable, for the time being.
- CAP News Staff