How to Harden Paper-Mache

Written by brandon getty
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How to Harden Paper-Mache
Glue is one of the primary ingredients in paper-mache. (Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Paper-mache, also referred to as papier-mache, is the ideal medium for creating durable, long-lasting sculptures. It is a mixture of paper shards or finely shaven pulp and diluted glue. Other adhesives like starch or wallpaper paste may be used to bond the strips of paper together, or to the working surface. Though most paper-mache sculptures will harden overnight, a more rapid drying time is sometimes required. By adjusting the humidity and temperature of your work area, you'll have a finished product in no time.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

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Things you need

  • Dehumidifier
  • Standing fan
  • Hair dryer

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  1. 1

    Work in a room that has a temperature of at least 21.1 degrees C. Adhesives take much longer to cure in cold rooms.

  2. 2

    Place a dehumidifier near your work area. This is an especially effective step if you live in a coastal or tropical climate where humidity is normally high.

  3. 3

    Position a standing fan roughly 3 feet from your paper-mache sculpture. If you are trying to harden several sculptures, an oscillating fan will be more effective.

  4. 4

    Hold a hair dryer on its lowest heat setting roughly 1 to 2 feet from the sculpture. Slowly move the hair dryer around all parts of the sculpture until the liquid in the adhesive begins to evaporate.

Tips and warnings

  • Do not allow children to ingest paper-mache, as the adhesives can be harmful.

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