Paper mache, also known as papier mache, is a crafting technique that is easy, inexpensive, versatile and perfect for all ages. You couldn't ask for a better art form! You can create masks, piñatas, decorative accents, bowls, and even learn how to make a paper mache volcano, or just about anything your imagination can dream up. Projects will take several days to complete, as you need to allow for drying time between layers of paper for these types of paper crafts.
Here's a step-by-step guide for how to make paper mache to get you started with projects.
- Glue There is a wide variety of glue recipes available, and with a little experimentation, you'll find the one that you like best. Try three parts white glue mixed with one part water, or use liquid starch at full strength for a paper mache paste. My favorite glue is a cooked mixture of one part flour to about five parts water; bring the mixture to a low rolling boil for about three or four minutes, and add a few teaspoons of salt to deter mold. Stir until smooth and allow the mixture to cool before using. This paper mache recipe for glue is a favorite of many artists due to the mold deterrent.
- Forms The form is the base of your project. You can use anything that you like, including balloons, cardboard boxes, styrofoam balls or other shapes, or any other materials that have an interesting shape. If you want to make a specific shape like an animal or person, use masking tape to create your form with pieces of cardboard or styrofoam.
- Basics Now that you have your glue and the form, you're ready to begin learning how to paper mache! Here are the other materials you'll need:
- Tissue paper, beads, glitter and other accents (optional)
- Newspaper strips, torn about 1 inch wide and six inches long (you can also use gift wrap or brown paper bags)
- Poster paints
- Paint brushes
Paper Mache Instructions:
- Working with one strip of paper at a time, dip the paper into the glue and get it well saturated on both sides. Remove the excess glue with your fingers and place the strip on your form, smoothing with your hands. Do this gently so as not to tear the paper.
- Continue working, adding the strips of paper to the form, slightly overlapping them as you go. When the form is completely covered with paper strips, set it aside for 24 hours to let the glue dry.
- Repeat steps one and two at least two more times, so you have at least three layers of paper on your form. Allow the glue to dry for 24 hours between each layer. Keep going until you have your desired thickness.
- Once you've finished the layering and the glue is completely dry, paint your figure with the poster paint and brushes. Set the project aside once more so the paint can dry, and then add decorative touches with the tissue paper, beads, glitter or other items if desired.
- If you wish to hang your creation such as a pinata, use a strong needle and fishing line to punch small holes at the top for hanging.
That's all there is to it! Once you have the basic technique under your belt, you can make more advanced projects. Pick up a book on paper mache, or do a search online for some great ideas for crafts.