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How to Stiffen Paper

Updated April 17, 2017

The knowledge of how to stiffen paper can be an invaluable skill. This is particularly true when working with paper crafts, even more so when working with papier mache. Even the strongest paper available will eventually begin to collapse if too much weight is placed on it, and the only alternative is cardboard, which is usually too thick and too stiff to use in more intricate paper crafting. By stiffening the paper with a light glue-and-water solution, however, you can reinforce the structure of the paper without having to sacrifice slimness or utility.

Lay down your protective cloth in the area where you will be working.

Mix one part glue with two parts water in your bowl. Stir them together until they have reached roughly the thickness of cake mix.

Take your clothespins and hang the paper or papers that you wish to stiffen on your clothesline.

Dip your sponge partway into the glue mix and remove it. Hold it over the bowl until the mix stops dripping from it.

Gently apply the glue mix to one side of the hanging paper with your sponge. Don't apply too much, but make sure that the side of the paper is thoroughly coated. Reapply the glue mix to the sponge when needed.

Give the glue some time to dry, and then apply the glue mix to the other side of the paper.

Let the other side of the paper dry. You should now have a perfectly stiff piece of paper. If you want it to be stiffer, however, you can add as many layers of glue mix as you need for your project.

Things You'll Need

  • Craft paper
  • White glue
  • Plastic spoon
  • Water
  • Clothesline
  • Sponge
  • Clothespins
  • Protective cloth
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About the Author

Tom Johnson has served as the lead writer of his copywriting business since 2008. He has extensive backgrounds in psychology and marketing. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from the University of Guam, and a Level II teaching certification in language arts from the Guam Department of Education.