The Many Values of Paper – Paper Mache

Paper mache is a fun, easy way to create shapes and characters out of simple paper and glue. This process has been in use for hundreds of years and has been a medium of creative art from all across the globe. Paper mache in French means “chewed paper,” mainly because the paper used to make it is often ripped or used in a pulp form (this is a great creative recycling project too). This creative craft was first developed in Europe around 1725, and has remained a very popular form of art. Now, professional artists and kids in classrooms alike have developed a knack for this unusual art form. This page will discuss the various steps needed to create something made of paper mache as well as provide some cool, creative craft ideas.

How to Make Paper Mache

  1. Tear newspaper into thin strips. It is a good idea to tear as much paper as possible, so you will have enough material to work with. A good tip is to use computer paper or a paper towel as your final layer because the paint will adhere to it the best.

Illustrated Instructions – This page gives step by step directions as well as photos and illustrations on how to make paper mache.

  1. Make a paste or glue that will hold the paper strips together and give the object its shape. There are three commonly used formulas to make paste; essentially, you can opt whichever one works for you or which one you have the materials for. The first mixture involves ¾ white glue to ¼ water. Stir well, and it should make an easy to use paste. The second method is a mixture of 1 part flour to about 5 parts water brought to a boil. After about three minutes, remove it from the heat and it is ready to use. The third paste mixture method is a simple mixture of equal parts flour and water.

Paste Recipe – Here is another simple, yet effective paper mache paste recipe.

  1. Prepare your object to be covered, and be sure to protect the floor below you with newspaper or tarp since the paste will drip! Cover the project with about four layers of the paper strips, apply paste with a brush, and let dry. The paper strips should be slightly overlapping. Make sure the glue or paste is completely dry before applying the next set of paper layers. This process can continue until you’re satisfied with the thickness and shape of the object. Use the computer paper or paper towel strips as your last layer. The key is to be absolutely sure each layer is 100% dry before moving onto the next one.

Thorough Paper Mache Guide – This guide has a lot of great tips and detailed instructions on paper mache paste, glue, methods, and more.

  1. Paint your paper mache project using acrylic paints. This type of paint is bright, colorful, and will cling to the paper the best. You can use a small paint brush or other art tools to paint details on your piece including eyes, facial features, feathers, or many other things. The possibilities are endless so get creative with it and have fun. Once the paint is dry, your paper mache sculpture is ready to be enjoyed.

Painting and Decorating – Some how-to information about painting your paper mache project can be found here.

Here are some more fun and easy paper mache craft ideas for you to try:

  • Children’s Project Ideas – Here are some fun craft ideas for children to try out.
  • Animal Sculptures – Interesting and creative animal sculptures made of paper mache.
  • Paper Mache for Younger Children – This page has a list of paper mache craft ideas for kids from ages 4-7 and up.
  • A Paper Mache Mask – Masks are a popular choice for paper mache. Here are some simple instructions on how to make one.
  • Lesson Ideas – This page contains lots of fun pictures and ideas for paper mache classroom or home projects.
  • Pinata – Pinatas are one of the most popular things to make with paper mache. Learn how to make your own here!
  • Easter Eggs – This fun, elegant project shows you how to make cute little Easter eggs with paper mache.
  • Shogai – Take a look at one master artist is doing with their paper mache animal sculptures.
  • Bird Houses – Learn how to make a bird house out of paper mache at this website.
  • Volcano! – Make your very own volcano out of paper mache.
  • Gourmet Paper Mache – Check out the details that this paper mache artist has in his work.
  • How-To – A very detailed how-to guide about making paper mache projects.
  • Popularity of Paper Mache – Read and learn about how this art medium is now making a comeback.
  • Getting Started – Here’s what you need to know to get started with paper mache.
  • Recipes – Here is a pulp and paste recipe for paper mache.
  • Caribbean Paper Mache – Check out some fun island themed items you can make with paper mache!