The French term papier-mâché translates to "chewed up paper." Paper mache is a crafting material that can create different types of objects by covering it with strips or filled pulp. Once dried, you can remove it to paint or decorate an object as you'd like. Paper mache ideas can range anywhere from holiday themes like Christmas ornaments or an Easter-themed piñata, all the way to favorite characters like Cat-In-The-Hat and Mickey Mouse. This composite material often uses textiles for bigger projects that are bound with adhesives like glue. Consider the amount of detail that goes into paper mache masks, figures, and theater props, for instance.
A Brief History
Traditionally, there were many variations of paper mache used in places like Ancient Egypt, the Middle East, and Europe. In Egypt, coffins were typically made from layers of papyrus or linen and then covered with plaster. Paper mache has also been used to create small painted boxes, trays, and cases in Persia. Places like China, India, and Japan also created laminated paper articles and fancy components for armor and shields. Popular historical paper mache objects have included paper boats, masks, and observatory domes. Today, it is mostly used in carnival floats, puppetry, and life stages, and simple arts and crafts projects.
Making the Paste
Paper mache paste is often made with a mix of water, corn syrup, and vinegar. Although you can always buy your own paste for crafting, many art lovers choose to make their own in order to manage the quality and amount. While it's not super easy to clean up, or as kid-friendly as the no-cook and cooked paper mache paste recipes, this is still a good paste to use. If you need your finished project to be strong, this paste recipe dries to a very hard finish. Thus, it's especially good to make for projects that you want to last for a long time— not for temporary crafts like making a pinata.
Ingredients and Supplies Needed
- 1 cup of flour
- 1/2 cup of resin glue powder
- 4 cups of water
- 1 old pot and 1 old spoon or whisk
- Read the package or container your resin glue powder comes in and follow the directions. If your product doesn't have any guidelines, use the ones provided below.
- Use an old pot and an old wooden spoon or whisk for this project. To make this paper mache paste, start out by putting 3 cups of water in a pot and bringing it to a boil.
- While you are waiting for the water to boil, mix 1 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of powdered glue resin together. Slowly stir in 1 cup of very warm water. Once it is all blended together, beat the mixture briskly to remove lumps.
- Once your pot of water is boiling, slowly stir in the flour mixture. Mix well and let it boil for two to three minutes or until it is clear and smooth.
- You should be able to store this glue in a covered bowl or jar in the refrigerator for a few days.