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How to Paper Mache the Easy Way

How to Paper Mache the Easy Way

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Paper mache, or papier mache according to French-originated name, is done by placing paste-covered strips onto a frame. This is not a quick and finish project, but it is easy to do and loads of fun for kids and adults. One reason it's so entertaining for kids is because they get to play around with a sticky gooey substance and not get yelled at. That's right paper mache projects are messy business, so work outside if you can or cover the area with a large sheet to catch the mess.

Paper mache recipe:

1 cup water

cup flour

5 cups boiling water

Combine the flour with the water, and, once mixed thoroughly (no lumps), add to the boiling water. Stir, boiling for about three minutes. This paper mache recipe should be cooled before using. This paper mache recipe is good because it dries clear.

For a thicker and stronger paste, use one cup flour to three cups water. This recipe is good because it is stronger and, so, requires less layers of paper to complete a project.

How to make paper mache:

1. First choose a form or shape that you will paper mache. The easiest form to use is a balloon, though you needn't limit yourself to round or oblong shaped paper mache forms. Balloons come in fun shapes and sizes, and bowls, boxes or sturdy wire can be manipulated into any form you want. If you can, attach a string to your form for later use.

2. Next, make the paste using a paper mache recipe from above, and cut the newspaper into strips.

3. Dip the strips of paper into the paste, and cover your paper mache form with two or three layers. Some projects will require more layers for a sturdier hold.

4. Hang your project from the aforementioned string, and let dry for one or two days. If you cannot hang your paper mache, rest it against a nonstick material and keep as much off the surface as possible.

5. Pop the balloon inside, remove and decorate your paper mache craft accordingly.

Paper mache projects:

Pinata- This is a great project for a birthday or holiday party, and both kids and adults will enjoy it. Once you see how much fun it is you'll want to make pinata party toppers for every occasion. A paper mache pinata is the cake topper for a Mexican themed party. The procedure varies slightly from the above instructions. A space must be left in order to fill the pinata with candy or prizes. You can either leave a small area unpaper mached and tape it up with masking tape after it's dried and stuffed, or you can cut out a piece from the top, fill, and replace the cut out piece with tape or glue. Decorate your pinata to fit your party theme, and have a blast! This is a really fun and exciting project to make. Pinata forms can be any shape you choose, so pick one that fits the theme of the day.

- Cover with lacquer or acrylic finish, just like the ancient Chinese originators of papier mache did centuries ago.

- Paper mache masks are very poplar, and let you get creative. Making the forms can be a bit of a challenge, but that makes it all the more fun. (Hint: Start out with a paper plate and build up the facial features using other materials such as balled up paper, egg cartons, or cups.

- Using a soda bottle and some cardboard, you can make loads of adorable animals from paper mache

- Pencil holders and bowls in varying shapes and sizes are also fun and easy paper mache projects

- Paper weights/bookends can be made using a milk carton, some rocks and good old paper mache.


After dipping the strips, remove excess paste before applying it to your form. This will keep things neater and make a smoother project.

When hanging paper mache projects to dry, place a rag or newspaper below to catch the dripping paste. If using more than 2-3 layers, only apply two at a time. Otherwise, the drying process will take too long and you run the risk of inviting mold.

Smooth out strips as you place them for a flatter more professional look.

Attach pieces of cardboard with masking tape to your base form to add detail or to create a more intricate project.

Water-based paints are easy to use and to clean up after and dry quickly allowing for multiple layers of design.

The quality and detail of your paint job and glaze can also dramatically change your paper mache craft from a simple kids project to a realistic and professional piece of art.

Because they are filled with air, balloons have a tendency to expand and contract slightly depending on the temperature in the room. For this reason, it is important to keep your paper mache craft in a consistent temperature from beginning until the end of the drying process. Otherwise, you risk the balloon shrinking or expanding before the paper mache has had time to set properly.

Rest round paper mache projects in a bowl or cup to prevent it from moving around while you paper mache and decorate.

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