How to Make Paper Mache

How to Make Paper Mache

Anyone for Paper Mache?
Paper Mache, or papier Mache, either way to spell it, it is a fun family project!

The answer to how to make paper mache is easier than you may think. What do you get when you add water, flour and news print? Almost anything you can imagine. These are the basic ingredients for paper Mache master pieces. Probably the most commonly known king of kid-dome is the Piñata. But the variety and fun of paper Mache does not begin or end with candy stuffed creations.

A firm foundation for Paper Mache

The basic beginning of any paper Mache project is the base, or skeletal figure you have when you begin. This can be rough and ugly, as long as it resembles the basic shape of what you wish to sculpt. Use cardboard, chicken wire (for large projects), toilet paper or paper towel tubes for arms and legs.

Balloons work great for round hollow shapes. Try crazy shaped balloons for other effects like long skinny shapes or squiggles. For finer details rolled tape or balled tinfoil are both great base choices. Remember they will all be covered so it won't matter if the base is a hapless hodge-podge of materials.

But What Can I do with Paper Mache?

You can create almost anything you can think of. To get your creative juices flowing here a few fun projects you can make at home with paper Mache. There is of course the Piñata, but keep reading.

For Halloween try creating paper Mache ghosts, or a witch's hat, or spooky spiders and jack-o-lanterns. All of these are simple bases using balloons, except in the case of the witch's hat. The spider's legs can be black pipe cleaner!

For Easter try making giant Easter eggs, or a bunny, or even a basket.

Other fun projects: Christmas stars or trees, flowers, or dinosaurs. Let your kids get really creative and make a self portrait in paper Mache.

Sticking it all together

So you've chosen what your creation is going to be, and the base is made. Now you need to stick it all together. Here are two basic paste recipes. Both work well, you can choose based on the materials you have on hand. (Note: in humid environments pastes with glue seem to dry faster.)

Flour recipe
-One part four
-Two parts water
- 3 tablespoons salt
Combine flour and water until smooth, mix until the lumps are gone. Add salt to prevent the growth of mold.

Glue recipe
-One part water
- Two parts glue
Mix together in large glass bowl until smooth.

The fine print for making Paper Mache

Now gather as many old news papers as you can and tear them into strips. Each strip should be about 1 inch wide and 6 inches or so long. It does make a difference if you cut them. For some reason torn papers are easier to work with and the finished product is smoother.

Armed with news paper strips and paste, begin covering your form. No, wait! This is very messy stuff. You may want to lay down a tarp or sacrificial table covering so you don’t have hours of clean up.

OK, now begin covering your form. Dip each strip of paper into the paste and onto the form. Make sure the strips overlap and cover the entire base. It is best to lay the strips criss-crossing each other in many directions to make a stronger finished product.

Each project needs three layers. Let each layer dry for 24 hours in-between applications.

Paint it!

When the last layer is dry, decorate and paint your creation to your heart's content. Learning how to make paper mache is an easy and fun way to create great artistic creations that don't cost a fortune!





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