Paper Mache (French term Papier-mâché) is an ancient type of craft dating back to lacquered war helmets made in China around AD 200. While some artists and crafters specialize just in paper mache ornaments, sculptures and even furniture, it’s a craft worth learning no matter what your arts and crafts area of expertise.
Paper mache is an inexpensive craft and easy to learn. More importantly, it’s an extremely pliable craft that can be incorporated into many other types of arts and crafts.
Making your armature (a framework around which the sculpture is built, this framework provides structure and stability)
You can create armatures for your paper mache projects easily. You can actually use cardboard and masking tape to design almost anything! For rounder, hollow shapes you can use balloons. You can use many items around your house as plastic, toilet rolls, tin foil, aerofoam, old clothes, wire the list goes on and on, practically anything.
Recipe for Paper-mache
- Mixing bowl,
- Materials for form: such as balloons, grocery bags filled with crumpled papers.
- Uncooked Flour Paste: This paper mache recipe using flour and water is made by adding one part of flour to two parts of water. Stir the mixture continuously while adding the flour, to avoid the formation of lumps. Keep mixing till the mixture achieves a smooth consistency. You can store this flour paste in a closed container in the fridge. In slang terms, this recipe is also called goop by some people, thanks to its sticky and sloppy consistency.
Cooked Flour Paste: This paper mache paste recipe uses the same ingredients as the recipe mentioned above. For this paste, you can start by boiling 4 parts of water. When the water is boiling, mix 1 part of flour to 1 part of warm water and mix. Make sure that there are no lumps. Add this flour and warm water mix to the boiling water. Mix it constantly while allowing it to boil. The consistency of the mixture should be glue-like when you switch off the gas.
Wallpaper Paste: This paper mache paste recipe uses wallpaper paste (the paste used to put up wallpapers), with water. Pour three parts of water into one part of wallpaper paste and stir. The resultant mixture can be used as an effective paper mache paste.
- Liquid Starch Paste: Some people prefer paper mache recipe with starch, wherein they use liquid starch as the paste. This frees them from the messiness created by the traditional flour and water paste.
- Tear long newspaper strips about one to two inches wide.
- Use your form such as the balloon.
- Blow up the balloon or put crumbled newspaper in a brown bag and shape the bag.
- When you choose your shape, remember you will have to remove your form when the project is complete so cover your form with plastic beforehand (a plastic grocery bag). If you are using a balloon, you can just pop the balloon.
- In a mixing bowl, combine water and flour until you have a paste that’s thin enough to coat the paper strips.
Experiment first with some small quantities first. If the mixture is too thin, the paper will turn into a soggy mush.
- Dip the paper into the paste and use your index finger and middle finger to act like a squeegee to run down the strip of paper.
- Place the strip on your form, crisscrossing to make overlapping layers, apply at least 3 layers leaving each layer to dry over night.
- When you are done, place in a warm, dry area to dry, each time you apply a layer.
Once the design is completely dry
- remove form by cutting a slit in the bottom of the form and pulling out form, or pop the balloon.
- Decorate with paint.