She has been a singer, songwriter, a radio talk show host, and an aerobics instructor, and now Bee Brahm is a sculptor and a freelance gardener.
For nearly 30 years, the Maynard resident has been making, and selling, paper mache creatures – mostly cats. Hank, her cat, is her muse.
“I started doing [paper mache] one Saturday night. I was bored so I made a model of my cat. Then I made another one and another one and it just snowballed,” Brahm said.
She sells her sculptures on Etsy and now is offering workshops to share her craft with others. Each workshop will be run over the course of two days and attendees will have time to make three paper mache pieces from start to finish.
There are no special skills required to make paper mache sculptures, she said.
“You don’t have to be super artistic because you don’t have to make a realistic thing – you can make an abstract. You can make bowls,” she said.
In fact, Brahm doesn’t consider herself an artist.
“I’m a maker because I’m always making things,” she said.
Creating with paper mache
Brahm starts with an old coat hanger, which she uses to shape a skeleton-like figure. Then she wraps the skeleton with plastic and tape – mostly old grocery bags and packing material.
“I’m always proud that I’m using up trash,” she said.
She uses a mix of flour, water and a “little dollop” of glue for the paper mache, dipping strips of paper into the mixture which she layers over the plastic-wrapped skeleton. Once the paper mache dries, she paints and seals it.
“So they’re pretty sturdy already but then they will be really hard,” she said.
Each piece is unique and the paper mache will last forever, she said, noting people have said her pieces have kept for 20 years or more.
“I love that I’m recycling. I love all the different kinds of paper and getting a little messy and just creating. It’s my most fun thing to do,” Brahm said.