How to Make Papier Mache (Paper Mache)

Papier Mache (or Paper Mache, as it's often spelled) is an easy and fun way to create a durable gift or decoration, and all kids can get involved.  (It's also the ultimate recycled art project.) The process is rather simple, but it does take time and patience to get to the end of the project.  Read on for your fuss-free paper mache tutorial:

1.  Tear your paper strips.  We use plain newspaper and make them an inch wide.  Make an assortment of longer and shorter strips.  You'll need different sizes to cover different areas of your project.

2.  Make your paste.  There are several different variations, but the cheapest and most affordable is to use one part flour to one part water.  (We used Great Value brand flour for our project, but any white version will do.)  Just mix them together in a bowl to create a smooth soup.

Add one teaspoon salt to discourage mold.  (This is important if you live in an area of high humidity!)

3.  Prepare your surfaces.   Make sure you lay out lots of cover for your table.  The glue can get messy!

4.  Decide on a structure.  We like to use balloons for beginner projects.  They are easy to work with, and when your project is done, you can pop them and leave them inside.

4.  Coat the strips.  Just dip them in the paste and pull them out slowly.  To get the excess off, you can run them over the rim of the bowl, or squeeze them gently between your fingers.

5.  Apply them.  Now you can lay them carefully on the balloon.  Try not to overlap too much, but make sure you cover all the area for your first layer.  You can go with two complete layers if your strips aren't too damp.

6.  Blot.  I like to gently use a paper towel to get the excess off.

7.  Hang.  By leaving the knot of the balloon hanging out, you can cut a hole in the knot to hang.  I keep my projects hanging from a towel hook in over my utility sink!

8.  Be patient.  Now it's time to let it dry. If you have to hurry things up (for a school project, maybe?) you can use a hairdryer on "cool" setting to help it along.

9.  Repeat.  Continue with layers of paper mache (allowing them to dry in between), until you are satisfied with the strength of the project.  Once it's fully dried, you can pop the balloon at the base of the knot and cut the knot away from the rest of the balloon (which can stay inside.)

If you would like to add a bit more paper mache to cover the small hole, you can.  If you want to fill the container with something (candy, perhaps), you will want to leave the opening and cover with masking tape instead.

Now you're ready to paint or decorate your project!  Learning how to make papier mache isn't that hard, is it?


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