How to Make Your Own Papier-Mache Base Forms and Molds

Use simple items to create forms for your projects

Woman holding completed papier-mâché project

Erin Patrice O'Brien / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Whether for a school project or fun activity with the kids, papier-mâché is one of those crafts that doesn't require any special supplies. The papier-mâché paste is a simple mixture of flour and water, and you can use many items found around your house to make molds and forms for your projects. It's a great way to recycle.

Some of these items can be used as bases for the papier-mâché object, while others can be used to add specific details to the project.

Balloons

You likely have a few balloons stashed away somewhere in the house, leftover from a birthday party or other festive celebration. All sizes and shapes of balloons (and it doesn't matter what the color is) are great to use as bases of round designs such as heads and masks. A balloon is also a perfect base for a pinata.

Cardboard

Don't throw away that extra cardboard from a package, or recycle the food boxes just yet. Different types of cardboard work well—corrugated cardboard is great to create certain types of project bases, and lightweight cardboard, such as those from cereal boxes, works well when adding smaller details.

Chicken Wire

Not everyone has chicken wire lying around the house, but it is pretty easy to come by. Its flexibility, scale, and its ability to easily connect pieces make chicken wire ideal for crafting bases for large projects.

Newspaper

Besides being a key ingredient in the actual papier-mâché process, you can use the newspaper for creating details on your project. This works well to create shapes that are asymmetrical or somewhat awkward since you can twist and form the paper into whatever size and design you need. You can also roll it up to make an arm or leg, or crumple it up to make a ball for a part of your structure that is round.

Shoeboxes

Shoeboxes aren't just for dioramas when it comes to projects—they can be very useful when you need a sturdy base for papier-mâché. Or cover the box to create a special treasure box or decorative container to store special items or give as a gift.

Toilet Paper Rolls and Paper Towel Rolls

Easily forgotten and often tossed out, cardboard toilet paper and paper towel rolls are very useful in the craft room. When it comes to papier-mâché structures, they are great for adding details such as arms and legs.

Additional Items

There is no need to limit yourself to the items listed. You can use almost anything you have laying around your house for papier-mâché. Look around and start creating. Here are more ideas:

  • Aluminum pie pans
  • Blown eggs
  • Bottles or jars
  • Cardboard ice cream containers
  • Detergent boxes
  • Egg cartons
  • Frozen juice cans
  • Juice boxes
  • Oatmeal containers
  • Paper cup
  • Plastic margarine bowls
  • Soda pop bottles
  • Styrofoam meat trays
  • Tinfoil

Multiple Pieces

If you have multiple pieces to your structure's base, you will need to secure them to each other. Masking tape is great for holding all of the base pieces together while you apply the papier-mâché.

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