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How to Make Paper Mache

  1. Prepare your tools.
  2. Make your adhesive.
  3. Find a moulds.
  4. Lay Strips for layered papier mache.
  5. Sculpt for pulped pair mache.
  6. Add features.
  7. Paint.


I prefer PVA glue for proper papier-mâché. It’s handy to always have some at home as it’s fairly multi-purpose. Order online to save considerably.
PVA Glue

How to Paper Mache

Knowing how to paper mache, or ‘papier-mâché’ as it is supposed to be written, is a great way to get creative with scrap paper to keep your kids entertained on a rainy Saturday. The following ‘how to’ talks you through the basics.

Photo Credit: Designlazy.com

1- Prepare your tools. You will need: – Paper (newsprint is ideal), PVA glue, paintbrush, plastic table covering (to prevent a tough clean-up!), and paints to finish. It is advisable to prepare everything before starting. Firstly, tear the newspaper into strips about an inch wide by 4 inches long. This is only approximate. Tear the paper with the grain.

2- Make your adhesive. There are many different recipes but the following is the simplest: A-The bare essentials are flour and water glue (boil 5 cups of water in a saucepan. In a bowl, mix 1/4 cup of sieved flour with a cup of cold water. Mix to a smooth consistency (a bit like making custard). When completely free of lumps, add the mixture to the water in the saucepan. Gently boil, stirring constantly for two or three minutes until the mixture thickens. Allow to cool before using). B- T make wallpaper paste glue (make up a bowl according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Use a little less water than recommended if preferred. Keep in an airtight container. It will keep for several days in a fridge or a cool place. Wallpaper paste has the advantage of containing a fungicide to prevent mould). C – My preferred adhesive- white (pva) glue (Slightly water down the glue in a bowl and use straight away).

3- Find a mould. A- Balloons are cheap and indispensable. No release agent needed. The balloon will tear itself away from your dried papier mache easily when burst. B- Bowls and plates. These will need to have a release agent applied first to stop the papier mache sticking to them. C- Release agents. These all must be applied very thinly. They may leave a small residue, which you may not like. These could be Vaseline, cooking oil, washing up liquid, cling film (this will not leave any residue but may leave a slightly crinkled texture on the papier mache), wet paper (another method is to use strips of wet paper (just wetted with water and no glue) for the first layer only)

4- Layered papier mache. Paste the strips of paper both sides with a paintbrush. Place your strips one at a time over the object to be covered and smooth down to remove air bubbles. Cover with two to three layers at a time. Don’t put too many on at once or it will take too long to dry and you can gradually build up as many layers as you require until you have the required thickness.

5- Pulped papier mache. This method will make a mixture of clay-like papier mache to sculpt with. To make a pulp, soak some torn up newspaper in water overnight. Drain, and then boil in some clean water for about 30 minutes, until the fibres start to break up. Sieve the pulp and throw away the water. Beat or whisk the pulp to break up the fibres. Mix the adhesive into the pulp until it forms a clay-like consistency.

6- Add features. To add features such as rims, handles or decoration, stick pieces of cardboard onto the model with masking tape. Cover the whole object in more papier mache. All kinds of throw away materials can be used to sculpt with pulped papier mache: Cardboard boxes (sides can be cut out to make panels), packaging (polystyrene chunks can be cut, glued together or taped with masking tape), wire netting (can be cut and bent into all sorts of shapes and then covered with papier mache), bamboo canes (these can be cut to length and used to hold a sculpture rigid)

7- Paint. When completely dry, paint with two coats of emulsion paint to seal it and kill the newsprint. You could also use gesso for a slightly tougher base. You can then paint it using any paints you like.


Prepared to get messy, especially if working with little ones!
You can make your whole object using the layering method or the pulp method, or a combination of both.


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