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Home > Sources and Types of Textiles > Paper > Papier Mache
Papier Mache

Getting started with Papier Mache
Papier MachePapier-mache is very easy to do and does not require much of an investment. 

All you need is

  • Paper (newsprint)
  • Adhesive
  • Paintbrush
  • Plastic table covering
  • Patience

It is advisable to prepare everything before starting. Firstly, tear the newspaper into strips about an inch wide by approximately 4 inches long.
Make your adhesive.

Step 1 : Preparing the adhesive 
Flour and water glue:

To make a flour and water glue follow these instructions:

  • Take cup of all purpose flour
  • 2 cups of cold water
  • 2 cups of boiling water
  • 3 tbsp. sugar

Mix flour and cold water in a bowl.
Add this mixture to boiling water and allow it to return to boil.
Remove heat and add sugar.
Stir well.
Allow the mixture to cool.
The mixture thickens after cooling and is ready for use.

Step 2 : Preparing the Moulds
The best part of using balloons as moulds is that they are cheap and easily available. The balloon will tear itself away from the dried papier mache easily when burst.

Bowls and plates
These will need to have a release agent applied first to stop the papier mache sticking to them.

Release agents
These all must be applied very thinly. They may leave a small residue.

  • Vaseline
  • Cooking oil
  • Washing up liquid
  • Wet paper (another method is to use strips of wet paper (just wetted with water and no glue) for the first layer only)

Step 3

  • Layered papier mache
  • Tear (dont cut) narrow strips of newspaper or newsprint. Narrow strips work best when using a round mould. For flat or rectangular moulds, larger strips can also be used.
  • Dip the strips into the paste, coating them completely.
  • Remove excess glue from the paper by using your fingers.
  • Place your strips one at a time over the object to be covered and smooth down to remove air bubbles.
  • Allow each layer to dry before putting another on.
  • Cover with two to three layers at a time to get the desired thickness.
  • To add features such as rims, handles or decoration stick pieces of cardboard onto the model with masking tape.
  • Cover the whole object in more papier mache.
  • When completely dry, paint with two coats of emulsion paint to seal it and kill the newsprint. You could also use gesso for a slightly tougher base.
  • You can then paint it using any paints you like.

Pulped papier mache
This method involves making of a mixture of clay-like papier mache to sculpt with.

To make a pulp:

  • Soak some torn up newspaper in water overnight.
  • Drain, and then boil in some clean water for about 30 minutes, until the fibres begin to break up.
  • Sieve the pulp and throw away the water.
  • Beat or whisk the pulp to break up the fibres.
  • Mix the adhesive into the pulp until it forms a clay-like consistency.

Apply this pulp on the mould to get the desired object.

Papier-mache sculpture
All kinds of throwaway materials can be used to sculpt with papier mache:

Cardboard boxes - Sides can be cut out to make flat panels.

Wire netting - this can be cut and bent into all sorts of shapes and then covered with papier mache. Just remember to take care of the sharp edges.

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