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How to Harden Paper-Mache

Updated February 21, 2017

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.

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  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. 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. 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. 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.

  5. Warning

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

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Things You'll Need

  • Dehumidifier
  • Standing fan
  • Hair dryer

About the Author

Brandon Getty began writing professionally in 2008, with columns appearing in "Thrasher" magazine. He received a Bachelor of Arts in literature from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and lives in Stockton, Calif.

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