Create and Conserve with Paper Mache
Ever wondered what you could do with all that load of scrap paper or the remnants of paper cut-outs piled up in your office or craft room? Well wonder no more, sit back and read as we show you how to get busy with Paper Mache.
But just before we fire off, with our DIY project, let’s pause to better learn about this engaging craft form, just in case you have never heard of it.
So What is Paper Mache?
Paper Mache which literally translates to mean chewed paper is a composite material made of paper pieces, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound together with an adhesive, such as glue or starch to create a workable consistent paste. Like clay, the resulting mixture can then be fashioned into several different shapes like masks, bowls, jewellry and animal figurines.
There are two main methods for preparing paper mache. The first method makes use of paper strips glued together with adhesive, and the second method makes use of paper pulp obtained by soaking or boiling paper to which glue is then added.
Now we should quickly add that aside scrap paper, old newspaper is perhaps the most widely used material for paper mache because of its consistency and relative abundance but then again nearly every other paper type will serve just as well.
To get started on creating and crafting with paper mache here are some of the items that you would need.
- Plastic surface or balloon to serve as a mold
- Mixing bowls
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Airtight container or ziplock bag
- Craft knife and extra blades
- Sand paper and paint brush
- Newspaper or scrap paper
- Floral tissue paper, kite paper or rice paper
- Crepe paper
- All purpose white flour
- Glue, starch or ModPodge
And now to the main event — the making of paper mache proper. Follow along as we go over the steps together.
Step 1: Set up your work space, clear out the area in which you would love to work and grab the following items:
- A bowl or large container
- Flour, wallpaper powder/paste, or white glue
Step 2: Tear the newspaper into small pieces of about 3 inches long for the strip method, or soak your paper in water overnight and drain out the excess water for the pulp method.
Step 3: To make starch, mix one part sieved flour with one part of water in a bowl until you get a thick glue-like consistency.
Step 4: Paste the strips of paper on both sides with a paintbrush or apply the pulp with your hand.
Step 5: If you’re using an object, such as a plastic bowl as a mold, be sure to smear the entire area that you’re applying the strips to with a very light layer of vaseline, this makes it a lot easier to remove once the mache has dried.
Step 6: Using your fingers, place your glue-soaked strips one at a time over the object you’re covering and smooth down with your brush to release air bubbles.
Step 7: Leave to dry, and remove carefully from the mold. Alternatively, you can gradually build up more layers to achieve the desired strength and thickness of the mache.
Step 8: When it is all dried out, apply two coats of emulsion paint as a primer, leave to dry then paint in your desired colour. As an alternative, you could finish up the paper mache creation by covering it up with any of the designer papers on paperpapers.com
- Add some cinnamon and salt to the mix to reduce the smell and eliminate the formation of molds.
- For some complex shapes, it would help to create a skeleton prop with a wire mesh.
There you have it; Paper Mache allows you to create unique hand crafts while keeping our planet clean and healthy by utilizing or recycling every bit of paper.