The French term papier-mâché translates to "chewed up paper." Paper mache is an adhesive crafting material that can mold to different types of objects when it is applied with strips of boiled pulp. Once dried, you can remove it to paint or decorate your project as you'd like. Paper mache ideas can range anywhere from holiday themes, like Christmas ornaments or an Easter piñata, all the way to beloved cartoon characters. 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. Coffins in Egypt were typically made from layers of papyrus or linen and then covered with plaster. In Persia, paper mache was also used to create small trays and containers that were then decoratively painted. Places like China, India, and Japan also used paper mache to create fancy components for protective military gear. Other popular historical paper mache objects throughout the globe have included paper boats, masks, and observatory domes. Today in the United States, it is mostly used in carnival floats, puppetry, theater sets and costumes, and in 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 to manage the quality and amount. While resin paper mache paste is not as easy to clean up or as kid-friendly as the standard 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 a typical piñata.
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, utensils you won't use for cooking. 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, 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.