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51 Fun DIY Paper Mache Ideas

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Paper mache is a classic DIY project that most of us have attempted in preschool or kindergarten. That feeling of ooey, gooey paste covering your hands to create something wonderful is something everyone should experience. We bring back the nostalgia through this curated list of unique paper mache ideas suitable for children and adults alike!

Get inspiration from the nostalgic craft of paper mache with this list of fun DIY paper mache ideas. This isn't a craft for just children, it's for adults too!

What is Paper Mache?

Papier mâché or paper mache is a hand-crafting technique that involves the use of paper and glue or pastes. The technique is named after the French word for “chewed paper,” which is essentially how the paper resembles during the process.

Paper Mache Recipe?

There are 5 ways to make a batch of paper mâché. Each of the methods differs in some way or another, but ultimately, the end result is more or less the same. There is no hard and fast rule to making paper mâché. Hence, if your batch turns out a bit different than what you see in the tutorials, then be flexible in tweaking the consistencies a little. The end goal is to make sure your mixture is thick enough for the paper strips to stick to your bases.

  1. All-purpose Flour & Water

This is a traditional method of making an adhesive. You only need two ingredients: all-purpose flour and water, as previously stated.

To begin, combine 1 part flour with 2 parts water in a bowl and whisk well to remove any lumps. 2 teaspoons of salt can be added if desired to prevent the growth of mold. Not quite thick enough? If the mixture will not stick to your paper pieces, gradually add flour until it’s thick enough to do so.

  1. Cornstarch Flour & Water

Mix cornstarch and water in a saucepan over low heat, stirring until it thickens to a paste-like consistency. Let it cool before using.

This paste can be used for paper mache projects and is a good alternative for those who prefer not to use flour.

  1. Glue & Water

This method of making paper mache is simple. Simply cut some paper into strips, moisten them with an adhesive such as school glue, and then layer the paper onto a surface. This is the general principle behind DIY kids’ projects and home crafts. However, if you want to elevate it to more complex results, then some additional techniques and steps have to be taken.

If you are looking for a more in-depth guide to the basic technique, check out this How to Make Paper Mache tutorial. 

  1. Mod Podge

The best product for paper mâché is Mod Podge, which is also the simplest to use because it doesn’t require mixing. It’s also the most costly, so it’s probably best suited for smaller projects and perhaps not for kids. Simply brush Mod Podge and paper over your base in layers, then wait for it to dry.

  1. Paper Pulp & Adhesive

This is another type of paper mache method, which is in the form of a clay composite made from paper pulp and adhesive primarily. This paper mache clay, also known as papier-mâché clay, is a variation of traditional paper mache that involves using a clay-like mixture to create three-dimensional paper mache sculptures and objects. It’s smoother and more moldable than traditional paper mache paste. You may get more information about paper mache clay & 4 best recipes to produce it via the link given.

What is Paper Mache used for?

Paper mache has centuries of history, spanning across the world. In ancient China, paper mache was used to create snuff boxes and warrior helmets, as unbelievable as it is. In 18th-century Europe, this technique was employed by contractors to ornament plaster in a less expensive way.

Paper mache can be used for the simplest crafts, such as covering a balloon to make bowls, sculptural faces, and masks. Other simple paper mache ideas include using eggs as a form to create the base of small dolls.

The beauty of paper mache doesn’t stop there! It can also be used for making large and intricate things like carnival floats. In the past, this art technique was used to make canoes! Nowadays, paper mache ideas are usually limited to DIY crafts for fun and leisure. But don’t let this stop your imagination from running wild! You can also attempt some of the easy paper mache ideas in the list if you’ve never done this before.

Supplies For Paper Mache Arts

  • Plenty of paper (the type varies according to the various paper mache ideas)
  • Some form of adhesive (depending on which type of paper mache technique you choose)
  • A form or base to layer your paper on
  • Plenty of newspaper or a plastic tablecloth to layer the surface and area in which you are going to attempt this
  • Paintbrushes
  • Paints, and acrylic paint are suggested.

Tips and Tricks to Achieve Better Paper Mache Results

  1. Layer the strips of paper on the form in a cross-hatched pattern.
  2. Use at least three layers of paper for durability.
  3. Allow the piece to dry completely before sanding or painting.
  4. If you use the traditional method of making paper mache by using flour and water, take note that mold may grow over time. To avoid this, opt for the modern option of using diluted craft glue or wood glue. However, if you prefer to use the traditional method, then add oil of cloves or salt to your adhesive mixture as a mold deterrent.

FAQ – Frequently Asked Questions

1. What type of form should I use for my paper mache?

This entirely depends on the paper mache ideas that you choose to make. Different objects and sculptures require different bases and forms to support them.

Regardless of that, here are some of the commonly used forms or bases in paper mache ideas:
– Balloons are useful for making masks, sculptural faces, and bowls.
– Square things like jewelry boxes and planters are best made out of cardboard. Cardboard can also be used to create elaborate frames for sculptures and pinatas.
– Flexible wire can be used to make large-scale constructions, such as lamp bases or lanterns.
– Eggs are usually used as a base for miniature dolls and other smaller items.

If you wish to freehand without a base or mold, produce some paper pulp. You combine entire sheets of paper with water to create pulp by blending the mixture until it resembles pulp.

2. What type of adhesive should I use?

Most tutorials on paper mache ideas will usually specify the type of adhesive you should use. Hence, it is always advisable to refer back to the tutorial to achieve the best results.

To make things easier, here are some of the commonly used adhesives that you may have to prepare before attempting any of the paper mache ideas:
1. Mix flour and hot water.
2. Dilute Elmer’s glue with water.
3. Use drywall compound and glue for heavy-duty projects.
4. Purchase a pre-mixed adhesive.

3. What type of paper should I use?

This also depends on the tutorials in the paper mache ideas. For a more cost-affordable and environmentally friendly option, use newspapers. They absorb water quickly as the paper is thin. Toilet paper is an excellent alternative to a newspaper when making pulp paper mache clay.

The tutorials may advise you to use tissue paper for smaller and finer paper mache ideas. However, you may need to use more layers of that as it is very thin. Tissue paper is also used in most paper mache ideas as a smooth finishing coat.

For more advanced paper mache ideas, the tutorials may require you to use alternative papers like gift wraps, printed napkins, and crepe paper.

4. How long do these paper mache ideas take to dry?

As the paper mache ideas vary in size, thickness, and amount, the time will differ as well. It also depends on the climate you live in.

If your climate is generally humid and gloomy, then it might take up to 10 to 14 days for your paper mache projects to dry completely. If your climate is one that is more hot and dry, then your paper mache project may take 7 to 10 days to dry.

5. How can I make the paper mache dry faster?

You can use a fan or place the paper mache in a well-ventilated area to help it dry faster. Furthermore, using a hairdryer on a low, cool setting can aid in the drying process without jeopardizing the project’s integrity.

6. How do I finish off my paper mache ideas?

Before painting, the dry paper mache object can be lightly sanded to remove any sharp edges.

Placing a layer of Polyfilla over the paper mache is another excellent suggestion. You may purchase it at DIY stores to fill in the cracks of your paper mache ideas before painting.

Before painting with colored acrylic paint, it’s a good idea to apply a foundation coat of white emulsion paint or Gesso. You could also decoupage it with paper napkins or other ornamental paper as your final coat.

Apply at least two topcoats of an appropriate varnish after all the paint has dried to protect your paper mache design.

7. Is paper mache waterproof?

No, most of them in the paper mache ideas list are not naturally waterproof. However, once your project is completely dry, applying a sealant like a varnish or polyurethane can make it water-resistant.

Still, if you want your paper mache creation to last, you shouldn’t keep it somewhere damp or humid.

What’s Next:

51 Fun Paper Mache Art Ideas

Without further ado, let’s take a look at this list of fun and creative paper mache ideas. From easy to challenging, you’ll find some of the best paper mache ideas for both children and adults. Happy crafting!

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Rosemary O

Saturday 14th of October 2023

Do you sell all this great info in a book form? I have all the stuff to do paper mache, but need to decide WHAT to do!