Paper mache (also spelt papier mache) is a craft sculpting medium that is useful in the classroom and at home. Children can safely use paper mache for projects and can make paper mache (with supervision) from materials found in the home: flour, water and paper. Paper mache is made as a paste that is used to bind strips of paper to cover a mould. Glues or resins are added to create a more durable product. The medium is allowed to dry, forming a product that can be painted and decorated.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- ½ to 1 cup white flour (not self-rising)
- 2 to 4 cups water
- 2 to 3 tbsp sugar
- White glue
- ¼ cup resin powder
- Oil of cinnamon
- Latex or vinyl gloves
- Mold of the project shape
Put half of the water in a saucepan and place on the stove. Heat the water until it is gently boiling.
Put the other half of the water in the bowl. Stir in enough flour to make a sticky paste. Pour the paste into the boiling water. Add the sugar. Stir gently and continue heating until the mixture boils again.
Remove the saucepan from the heat and let it cool. Stir in 4 to 5 drops of oil of cinnamon as a preservative. Stir in one-half tablespoon of white glue and one-quarter cup resin powder; add more for thicker paste. Pour the mixture into a large bowl. The mixture will thicken as it cools. If it thickens too much, thin it with a little water.
Lay each strip over the mould until the mould is completely covered. Build up layers on the mould with more paste-saturated strips.
Tips and warnings
- Create the mould before beginning the paste-making process. Build your mould from chicken wire, if the project is large, or purchase moulding medium. Use strips of copy paper from a home or office shredder instead of newspaper for a lighter colour.
- The combination of flour, water and sugar will invite insects and mildew. Paint the project with polyurethane as soon as it is completely dry.
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