Learning & Activities


How to Make Paper Mache

How to Make Paper Mache

Paper Mache is one of the oldest forms of basic crafting. Almost any kid of any age can do it and make all kinds of creations. Old kids will probably just need some basic instructions but younger kids will definitely need more hands-on guidance. But it must be hard to make right? The answer to how to make paper mache is easier than you may think.

What do you get when you add water, flour, and newsprint? Almost anything you can imagine. These are the basic ingredients for paper Mache masterpieces. Probably the most commonly known king of the kid-dome is the Piñata. But the variety and fun of paper Mache does not begin or end with candy-stuffed creations.

Key Points of Paper Mache

  • Paper Mache is a great stepping stone to creating all kinds of wonderful crafts.
  • Paper Mache is a great way to recycle old newspapers, old-school notes, and other paper scraps.
  • Be mindful of the humidity in your house as you make your masterpieces. Different levels of humidity will change at what speed the glue and mache drys.

©Arina P Habich/Shutterstock.com

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 are 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. And of course, you can make an adorable paper mache puppy if you want!


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.)

Paper Mache Flour Recipe

  • One part four
  • Two parts water
  • 3 tablespoons salt

Combine flour and water until smooth, and mix until the lumps are gone. Add salt to prevent the growth of mold.

Paper Mache Glue Recipe

  • One part water
  • Two parts white glue

Mix together in a large glass bowl until smooth.

The fine print for making Paper Mache

Now gather as many old newspapers 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 newspaper 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 cleanup.

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 crisscrossing 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 Paper Mache!

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!

To top