Easy Craft Ideas – Paper (Papier) Mache

August 27, 2007 on 6:58 am | In Paper Mache | | No Comments

Paper mache is a great easy craft idea, particularly for kids. You can make anything from small models to life size sculptures. I’m sure you have all been to a carnival where they have models of animals, dragons, caricatures of well know people on the floats. Many of these are made from paper mache. I can remember, when I was a kid really enjoying sticking bits of paper together and making something from old bits of newspaper. You can even make things like hand puppet heads such as Punch and Judy.

A simple paper mache model of a head can be made by using a balloon, a bowl, or other suitable object as a former for the main shape. Once you have built up three or four layers of paper, you can then start adding the details such as ears,nose, mouth and eyes etc. For larger models you can use chicken wire as a former. You make the former into the general shape you want and again build up layers of paper mache until you have several layers. Also with larger models, you can make the various parts individually and then join them together using more paper mache.

One of the great thing about paper mache is the low cost of making things. You can make the basic mixture using a flour and water paste and use old newspapers torn into strips. If you prefer it, you could use wallpaper paste instead of flour and water, but this would obviously increase the cost.

A word of warning: Making paper mache is messy. Make sure that you or your kids are wearing suitable protective clothes and you cover any work surfaces with plastic cloths. It is probably preferable that an adult makes the paste, or at least does the heating of the paste.

So what do you need to get started?

For the paste there are several recipes. Here are just two:

Recipe 1

1 cup of water
1/4 a cup of flour
5 cups of lightly boiling water

Mix the flour and the two cups of cold water together until you have an even mixture without any lumps. Gently pour this mixture into the boiling water and stir to avoid lumps. Continue to boil gently and stir for three minutes. Take the mixture of the heat and allow to cool down before using. Use the mixture within a few of days as it will not keep for too long. Store in a cool place such as a fridge.

Recipe 2

5 cups of flour
5 cups of cold water

Mix the water and flour together in a bowl until you achieve a creamy consistency. Use the mixture within a few of days as it will not keep for too long. Store in a cool place such as a fridge.

Making your first model:

Tear long newspaper strips 25 to 50mm wide.
If you are using a balloon as your former, blow it up first!!
If you are using a different object as your former, remember you will need to remove it when you have finished your model. To make it easier to remove, cover it with a plastic bag before starting. Not required if you are using a balloon as you can just pop it when you have finished.
Dip a strip of paper into the paste and wipe off any excess paste with your fingers.
Place the strips on your form, in a criss cross fashion to create overlapping layers.
Once you have completed one layer, allow it to dry for 24 hours.
Repeat this until you have at least three layers.
Once you have sufficient layers and the model is completely dry, you can the remove the former. If it is a balloon you can just pop is. If you have used a different former, you will need to cut the model in order to remove it. You can then glue the model back together using more paste and strips of newspaper.
Now you can decorate your model using water based poster paints.

For more intricate models you will probably want to investigate making a paper mache pulp mix. Have a look at these great books on paper mache.

There are some great examples of paper mache art here .

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