How to Make a Paper Mache Mountain

Mountain image by Click675 from

If you're doing a school project on the Andes or the Alps and need a model for a visual, make a mountain out of paper mache. Though it's a messy venture into art and creativity, working with paper mache can result in beautiful sculptures. It's also an inexpensive art form and uses recyclable, Earth-friendly products like newspaper. Almost anything can be made from paper mache, and a mountain is one of the least difficult objects to build.

Construct a frame to sculpt your mountain around. In art terms, this frame is called an armature and it does not need to be precise or detailed. You only need a basic, uncomplicated outline and there are several ways to build it. If your mountain is going to be larger than a standard size laundry basket, use chicken wire for lightweight stability. Crumple newspaper into wads if your mountain is going to be smaller. Shape the wads into a general mountainous form and secure them with masking tape. Balloons are also a common base for paper mache projects. It is fine to mix different shapes and sizes and they should be connected with masking tape. The balloons will deflate within a few days, so this method should only be used for small objects that will dry and harden quickly.

Mix the paper mache paste. There are several recipes from simple water and flour to those that use Plaster of Paris and other products not readily found in your pantry. While all methods are good and choosing one is a matter of preference, a long-standing, inexpensive blend is one part flour to five parts water. Boil for approximately three minutes then allow to cool. The paste should be thin and smooth. Add a few tablespoons of salt if you're concerned the flour might mould over time, which is especially possible in areas of high humidity. Using about a fourth less water is also advisable for humid areas. A dash of cinnamon will eliminate the smell of the glue if you find it too strong or unpleasant.

Tear the newspaper into narrow strips. Dip and completely dredge them in the paste. Apply the strips to your frame and cover it completely. Some strips will overlap. As the newspaper begins to build up, start moulding it into the desired shape, which might be sharp points, rounded slopes or a combination of peaks and valleys. Apply no more than four layers of newspaper at a time. Allow to dry before applying another set of layers. Depending on how big your mountain is and how thick you want it to be, sculpting can take several days to complete due to drying time. Make the final layer from strips of white computer paper or plain paper towels instead of newspaper. These products are easier to paint over.

Paint your mountain in green and brown or white if you want snowy hills. Other colours to include might be black and purple. If painting animals, trees or lakes onto the mountain, use whatever colours are appropriate. Lightweight characters such as small plastic army men, skiers, animals, vehicles, buildings, and trees and bushes can be glued to the mountain. Paint and decorate only when the mountain is completely dry.

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