How to Make Paper Mache

Papier mache (usually called by the simpler “paper mache”) is an easy and fun craft to make. You can use paper mache to make ornaments, pieces of art, sculpture, and any other shape you can imagine. It is cheap to make and (surprisingly) eco-friendly. Why is that? Paper mache uses waste paper like old newspapers and stationary and recycles them into a new artform.

Once you figure out how to make paper mache you can prepare it any time, and use it to form all kinds of shapes for drying and decorating.

Paper Mache Recipe

The first and easiest paper mache recipe requires flour, water and a good supply of recyclable paper — that’s it.

Making Paper Mache

Start making paper mache by stirring three parts water into one part flour until it comes out as a smooth and creamy mixture like cake batter. A tip — add a few drops of wintergreen oil. This will make the paste last longer on display. You can get wintergreen oil at drugstores and health food stores. Once you’ve stirred all these ingredients together, the paper mache paste is ready for whatever use you have for it.

Using Paper

The vital ingredient in paper mache is of course paper — I use old newspaper, but you can use any scrap paper or stationary you have lying around. This is the fun part, so if you’re making paper mache with kids, gather them around for this step. You dip each piece of paper in the liquid mixture, making sure it all gets soaked, then apply each paste-covered piece of paper to the mold or shape. You’re using. A note on molds — balloons work best for round shapes, but you can use old paint cans or anything hard that will help mold the wet paper into the shape you want.

Wallpaper Paste

How to Make Paper Mache

How to Make Paper Mache

There’s another popular paper mache recipe that uses wallpaper paste. It is a bit more complex because it involves wallpaper paste, but all you really need to do to get that is buy some at a hardware store. Start by mixing one part wallpaper paste with three parts water, then stir it up. This is an easy way to make ready-to-go paper mache paste. The process now is the same as before — soak individual pieces of paper in the paste, and apply them to the mold you’re using.

Paper Mache Recipe Precautions

Regardless which paper mache recipe you use, it is vital that you follow a series of precautions to get the best paper mache you can. It is important to tear your recycled paper into strips and not just cut it — tearing it allows the paper to absorb the paste, while cutting makes too clean of a line and your paper won’t soak properly. Also, be sure that each piece of paper you’re using is completely saturated with your paper mache paste, otherwise your paper mache will drip apart. Finally, let each layer of paper mache dry before you add another layer. This will make sure the mold holds together and has a smooth consistency.

Because paper mache paste has a strong smell, you might consider adding cinnamon or vanilla to your mix to make it a bit more pleasant.

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