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  • Papier Mache

How to Create Papier Mâché

Last Updated: November 10, 2023 Approved

This article was co-authored by Amy Guerrero . Amy Guerrero is an Arts and Crafts Specialist and the Owner of Sunshine Craft Co., a crafting studio based in Phoenix, Arizona. Amy specializes in macrame, DIY crafting, and teaching fiber arts. She offers monthly in-person and online workshops along with having developed a range of DIY craft kits for at-home projects. Amy holds a BS in Industrial Design from Philadelphia University. She worked as a graphic designer before starting her own business. Sunshine Craft Co. is a creative hub that offers a wide range of workshops, tools, and resources for any craft project to inspire creativity and community engagement. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. wikiHow marks an article as reader-approved once it receives enough positive feedback. This article received 74 testimonials and 86% of readers who voted found it helpful, earning it our reader-approved status. This article has been viewed 3,075,637 times.

Looking to make your own paper mâché craft? Papier-mâché (pap-yay mash-ay) or paper mâché (paper mash-ay) is an easy to make, hard material that can be used to cover various surfaces. You can use it in arts and crafts to make various sculptures, fruit bowls, puppets, dolls, and much more. The surface is easy to paint, allowing you to add patterns, bright colors, and interesting designs to your finished product. We've put together a tutorial on how to make paper mâché that can be used for any project that you have in mind.

Making Papier Mâché

Step 1 Clear an area and gather the materials you'll need to do papier-mâché.

  • A bowl or large container
  • Flour, wallpaper powder/ paste , or white glue [1] X Research source
  • Your base structure
  • Newspaper (for your project -- not for clean-up duty)
  • There is no wrong size your strips could be. In fact, if you want to add volume to your structure by molding the strips, you will need different sizes. So tear away freely.
  • Glue mixture: Pour 2 parts white glue and one part water into a mixing bowl. These quantities can be changed to suit the size of your project. Or, if you have a stronger bonding glue, 1 part white glue and 1 part water will do the trick. [3] X Research source
  • For super large and intense projects , you may want to substitute white glue for the water.
  • Wallpaper powder : Pour 2 parts wallpaper powder and one part water into a mixing bowl. This method is good if you're thinking seriously long-term -- it can last years. [5] X Research source
  • If it's too thin or thick, adjust accordingly. Add more adhesive base if it's too thin, water if it's too thick.

Step 5 Find a surface you want to papier-mâché.

  • If you're using a balloon, consider painting it with cooking oil beforehand -- that way, when it's dry, you can slide it out easily.

Creating Papier Mâché Crafts

  • If you'd like to create a shape (a face, say), bunch the strip into the form you want, place it on your surface, and then layer another strip on top to smooth it out. This can create volume, texture, and detail quite easily.
  • Put your first layer on horizontally, the second vertically, and so forth. It will help show you where you have been before and strengthen the piece. [10] X Research source

Step 5 Place the object...

  • Some schools of thought say to start with a white primer. If you're using a light color on the piece, you may want to use this method (otherwise some print may stick out). Make sure not to cover to top part in order to take the balloon out.

Community Q&A

Community Answer

Video . By using this service, some information may be shared with YouTube.

  • It will take more than 40 minutes to dry. Thanks Helpful 36 Not Helpful 5
  • The flour mixture is better for piñatas, as it breaks easier. If you're looking for a stronger hold (like for cosplay) use the glue one. Thanks Helpful 44 Not Helpful 8
  • In addition, tearing the paper roughly, as opposed to cutting with scissors, will result in a smoother final appearance. Thanks Helpful 54 Not Helpful 11

how to make a paper mache

  • The glue mixture may be hard to clean off your work surface once it is set. If you are worried about getting glue on your work surface, put some newspaper down before you get started. Thanks Helpful 96 Not Helpful 38
  • If you're making a piñata using a balloon, make sure you use enough layers (at least 3 or more) or replace the newspaper with thicker paper (like normal white paper) and be sure to let it dry completely before removing the balloon. If not, the balloon may drag the paper inward and create dents when it's popped. Thanks Helpful 83 Not Helpful 36

Things You'll Need

  • Glue/flour/wallpaper powder
  • Mixing spoon/stick
  • Newspaper (for surface and structure)
  • Base structure
  • Cooking oil (optional)

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how to make a paper mache

  • ↑ https://medium.com/prikabylove/beginners-guide-to-paper-make-84ece70b6fce
  • ↑ https://www.dltk-kids.com/type/how_to_paper_mache.htm
  • ↑ http://www.papiermache.co.uk/tutorials/getting-started-with-papier-mache/
  • ↑ https://www.kidspot.com.au/parenting/things-to-do/make-paper-mache-glue/news-story/ceb59e78216f566a15b75932462f274c
  • ↑ https://blog.treasurie.com/paper-mache-balloon/
  • ↑ https://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/family/things-to-do/how-to-make-paper-mache-288662
  • ↑ https://www.ponderosahomes.com/2014/11/getting-crafty-thanksgiving/

About This Article

Amy Guerrero

To make papier mâché, first add 2 cups (240 grams) of flour and 1 cup (240 milliliters) of water to a large bowl. Stir the flour and water together until a paste forms, then set the paste aside. Next, tear or cut enough 1-inch wide strips of newspaper to cover the object you’re papier mâchéing 3 times. When you’re done, dip the strips into the papier mâché paste, and press them onto your object. Continue dipping and pasting the strips until your object is completely covered. Then, let the first layer dry, which should take about 2 to 3 hours. Place a fan next to the object to help the papier mâché dry faster. Repeat the process 2 more times so you have 3 layers in total. Then, paint and decorate your papier mâché object. For other ways to papier mâché, including how to use a glue mixture or a wallpaper mixture as your base, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No

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Ultimate Paper Mache


Paper Mache Paste Recipes – Including No-Flour, Mold-Free Options

Paper mache paste

Paper mache (or papier-mâché, if you prefer) can be made with many different paste recipes.

To go straight to your favorite recipe , click on one of the links below.

Fast and Easy Raw Flour and Water Paste

  • Cooked Flour and Water Paste
  • Elmer’s Art Paste (Gluten-free).
  • How to use Wood Glue for a Fast-Drying and Strong Mask or Sculpture.
  • More Gluten-Free Alternatives.

The recipes listed on this page are for use with paper strips and paste . You’ll find my paper mache clay recipe on a separate page.

Paint the wolf mask

Note: If you’re looking for a faster, easier project, be sure to check out my new mask and sculpture patterns . They create all the shapes for you, so they’re lots of fun to make but take much less time.

This has been my favorite paper mache paste for years. It’s also the paste our friend Dan Reeder uses to make his wonderful dragons and monsters. However, keep reading to see when it might not be the best option for your next project.

Paper mache paste is easy to make, and it doesn’t really need a recipe. The most important tip is to use hot water (from the tap, not boiling) to make a nice smooth paste.

Ingredients for easy paper mache paste:

  • Hot Water from the Tap

To make the paste , just pour some white flour in a bowl. Add hot water gradually until you have a consistency that will work well. Mix with a spoon or whisk. If you have one, an immersion blender works great).

Watch this video to see how to apply paper strips and paste to an armature .

How thick should you make your paste?   You want it thin enough so it looks more like white glue than pancake batter – although thicker paste will work OK, too, if that’s the way you like it. You really can’t make it wrong.

What kind of flour will work? You’ll need to use all-purpose white flour. Whole-wheat flour makes healthier bread, but it isn’t sticky enough to make good paste.

Make up just enough for one sculpting session. This is good advice for any paste made with wheat flour. Wild yeast is attracted to flour (that’s how sourdough bread is made.)

If the paste is kept over from one session to the next, the yeast will break down the flour and make the paste less sticky (and slightly stinky). It’s best to whip up as much as you need today, throw out any paste that’s left over, and make a new batch tomorrow – or whenever you need some more. (If you need a paste that can be kept for longer periods of time, see the Elmer’s Art Paste, below.)

Be sure to clean the bowl and utensils before the paste has time to dry – it will dry very hard. That’s good for paper mache, but not so good for the person washing the dishes.

Tips: This paste is easy and strong, but it will leave a floury residue on the outside of your sculpture. If you want the last layer of paper to be seen on the finished sculpture, you’ll need one of the clear paste alternatives below.

And if you have a gluten allergy , you’ll want to use one of the gluten-free alternatives.

See my patterns for paper mache wall sculptures and masks:

Cooked flour and water paste:.

Cooked paper mache paste will dry almost clear, unlike the raw paste, and the surface of your paper mache sculpture will be slightly smoother.


  • 2 Tablespoons of white flour
  • 1 cup of cold water

Mix the white flour and water in a small saucepan. Stir until there are no lumps. A whisk works really well for this.

Put the pan on the stove at medium heat and slowly bring it to a boil, stirring constantly.

When it begins to thicken, be sure to watch carefully and keep stirring, to make sure it doesn’t burn. Stir with a silicone spatula if you have one. As soon as it starts to bubble, remove the pan from the heat and allow the paste to cool.

The paste will be somewhat runny when it’s hot, but it will gel slightly as it cools. You’ll obviously want to keep your hands out of it while it’s still hot enough to burn.

Tips: This is an excellent choice if you need a paste that dries clear . However, if you have a gluten allergy, you’ll need one of the options below.

Keep these recipes handy for your next project. Download my free recipe guide, The 5 Best Recipes for Paper Mache . It includes the recipe for my famous paper mache clay. To get your copy, click here.

Elmer’s Glue-All (Methylcellulose)

Methylcellulose paste – In the past I often recommend Elmer’s Art Paste for school classes, because you can make up a gallon of the paste in advance, and it never gets moldy. It’s also gluten-free, so you don’t have to worry about your students’ allergies.

Unfortunately, they don’t sell it anymore. However, you can easily make your own with food-grade methylcellulose. It’s really the same thing as the Elmer’s product, and you can easily buy it online. Watch this video to see how to make it .

Lion King Jr Mask Pattern Templates for Paper Mache

Looking for an easy way to make headdress-style masks for your school’s production of The Lion King Jr? I have patterns for all the major characters – the patterns create the shapes, and you bring them to life with acrylic paint. See the Lion King Jr mask patterns here .

Gluten-Free Options

If you need a paste that dries perfectly clear, you can use Elmer’s Glue-All (or any white PVA glue) mixed with just enough water to make the glue thinner and easier to spread.

I often use Titebond III wood glue with masks that need to be light and strong. You can see a video about that here.

Acrylic Gel can be used as paste. This is the product that I use when I add colored tissue paper as a final layer over a paper mache sculpture. You do need to make sure the paper mache underneath is completely dry, because the acrylic medium could dry first and seal moisture inside.

I use the gel medium with tissue paper for two reasons: It dries perfectly clear, and it doesn’t cause the fragile tissue paper to fall apart quite as fast as water-based paste does.

Paper Mache Paste Recipes - Including No-Flour, Mold-Free Options

You do still need to handle the paper carefully, of course. You can see how the gel medium worked with tissue paper on a bullfrog sculpture here .

Wood Glue for Paper Mache

I use Titebond II wood glue for all of my Lion King masks, because it’s strong enough that you can use just one layer over the cardboard patterns. ( Click here to see a video that shows how I use it.) It’s also what I use when I use paper mache inside a silicone mold.

You can find the wood glue online or in any hardware store or Walmart. It isn’t cheap, but you don’t need many layers and it dries much faster than any water-based paste.

Related Posts:

Paper Mache Paste Recipes - Including No-Flour, Mold-Free Options

Make a Mask with Paper Mache over Wet Clay

How to make a portrait mask

Make a Portrait Mask

Paper Mache Paste Recipes - Including No-Flour, Mold-Free Options

Lion King Headress Mask Patterns

Paper mache paste recipes

2,388 thoughts on “Paper Mache Paste Recipes – Including No-Flour, Mold-Free Options”

hi just wondering I’m making a mask out of plastillina and wanted to know if you could use the uncooked flour and water mix for it just wondering how long it stills together thanks

I’m not sure what you mean – do you want to mix the paste with the plastillina? Or are you using the modeling clay for the form for the paper mache? If you’re asking about that, then you can use any paste recipe with newspaper strips over modeling clay. You’ll need several layers to make it strong enough to wear as a mask.

yes i meant i was using the clay as the form thank you for the reply that will help me a lot

I had 2 elementary classes create paper mache hot air balloons. I used the flour and water mixture. I’m now reading about mold and bug infestations. Can I spray paint them with clear spray paint to prevent bugs?? I don’t want to throw them away, especially because it was my fault. Should I seal with something other than spray paint to prevent bugs?? Help please!!

Hi Laura. I don’t actually live in an area that has paper mache-eating bugs, so I’m not the right person to ask about the critters. I do always seal my sculptures, though – if you don’t, they’ll absorb moisture from the air. If you keep them dry, mold can’t grow because it needs water. You can use an artists’ varnish, or you can use a waterproof clear sealer like the Rustoleum Clear Matte spray .

I’m getting ready to teach paper mache to middle school age children and was wondering if anyone here has used wallpaper sizing in place of flour and water?

I haven’t tried it, but I know a lot of people do. You might get more responses if you post your comment on the Daily Sculptors page . Have fun with your class! 🙂

Thank you, Jonni!

I had such fun today with the paper mache cement clay. I really didn’t measure anything lol. I had these strong 10 pound flour paper sacks. I had been saving them. I tore them up and soaked them for a couple days. They really mixed quite well with cement and joint compound. I made it thick and stuffed it into some molds I had, then I added more water so I could pour it down a cone to make a knome. I still has some of that left so I just filled as many little molds that I could and tomorrow I will see how they all come out. It was fun and messy lol.

I hope you’ll let us know how they came out. It sounds like you have a very interesting process, and we’d love to see your projects when they’re done. 🙂

The little things came out real good except for the frog and I think it’s because I stuff it with stiff clay. The cone came out excellent and it’s still very cold? It seems that it needs more time to dry. I will take some pics tomorrow. The finish come came out so smooth and beautiful. it just has some air holes because I suppose I didn’t hit it lol. I patched the holes with joint compount and sanded it. This cement clay recipe is excellent and I can see me using it a lot but a bit more fluid for the little molds.

I am planning to do a paper mache activity with my elementary school art class. I only have this grade once a week, so I am wondering if there is a good way to preserve the paper mache so that I don’t need to make a new batch each week. Does one recipe “keep” better than others? Thanks!

The Elmer’s Art Paste was perfect for schools, because it never went bad. But they don’t’ sell it anymore. Any paste that contains flour will start to go bad pretty fast, because there’s yeast in the air, and it tries to turn the paste into sourdough bread batter. As soon as it gets in, the paste starts to go sour, and it isn’t as sticky anymore. The cooked flour and water paste will last for two days, if you keep it in the fridge, and you might be able to keep it for much longer in the freezer. The Art Paste was made with Methylcellulose , which is still available for use by librarians and artists, but it is more expensive than the Elmer’s product was. But it lasts for a very long time, so it might be worth the extra expense, just because it would save so much time. I haven’t tried that version myself, though.

i have found out that i accidentally used cake flour for paper mache will it be okay?

It will probably be just fine – you can test it with a few strips of paper, let them dry, and see if they’re still stuck together. I think they will be, but you can test it to make sure. 🙂

Hey there, Im a performance artist making a rather large pinata to break on stage, I need a very sturdy paper mache recipe, however my question is, could I still break my sculpture if i use wood glue?

Hi Soph. You’d need to test it. You might be able to break it if you only use one or two layers, but this stuff is really strong. If you get too many layers, it could be similar to working with thin plywood. The traditional flour and water paste might be a better choice, but be sure to experiment to see which one works better for you.

Hello. I have been looking for a strong and stiff mixture to make free standing shapes with doilies. Think vases, balloons, wall art, ect… I have used Elmer’s craft, Elmer’s and water, wood glue and water, fabric starch (sta flo), starch and Elmer’s mixed….all to no avail. The piece just isn’t strong enough. It starts sagging once hung. Is there a strong fabric paste that I haven’t found yet? Any help would be appreciated. Thank you.

Hi Melanie. I don’t use fabric very often, so I have no suggestions for you. However, several of my readers use a product called Paverpol for their projects. I haven’t tried it myself, but Eileen Galagher wrote a nice tutorial for us using the product. You can see it here . She might still be watching her post for comments, if you’d like to ask her for advice. And if you leave your comment on the Daily Sculptors page , you might get some other suggestions from our readers.

Hi thank you for showing your work/ looking for the most current waterproof paper mache receipe for the toad. Can’t see it here on the site. Thank you

Hi Angela. I haven’t put that recipe here on the recipe page yet, because we haven’t had time to fully test it in winter weather. But you can find it here .

can you store the cooked recipe or must it be used right away?

Even though the cooked flour and water paste has been heated, it will still attract yeast from the air, and yeast will try to turn it into sourdough bread dough. That process makes the paste less sticky, and it can smell sour. I recommend making up just as much as you need that day, and throw away the leftover paste so you can start with new paste in the morning.

I’ve read that adding some salt will take care of the mold problem. Have you tried it? I’d guess about one Tbs. per quart of paste? An inexpensive fix if true.

The very best way to avoid mold is to make sure your paper mache sculpture dries as fast as possible, and then seal it so it can’t absorb moisture from the air. The wet paste in the bowl needs to be thrown out at the end of the day and a new one made the next day, to start fresh. I think the salt will slow down mold, but all bread contains salt but it will still mold if left out too long. Even if you put salt in your paste, you still need to make sure the piece dries quickly, and seal it.

Hello! Firstly, your masks are amazing you have to much talent! I am trying to make a much similar projects and was google searching for recipes and trying to figure out a recipe that would be safe to use as a lampshade or if it was safe to use paper pulp for such a purpose. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Cheers x

Hi KC. I know there are quite a few YouTube videos showing how to make beautiful lampshades with paper pulp. I don’t know if they have been tested to make sure they’re safe. You might want to do a search on YouTube to find a tutorial that you like, and then read through the comments to see what they say about safety.

Thank you, to you tube I go 🙂

Why not to include salt as a preservative to the recepy with flour?

You can do that if you want to. But the best way to prevent mold in any form of paper mache is to use thin layers and get them to dry quickly. Mold can’t grow without water.

I would like to make some small japanese vase-like vessels, and wonder is there a recipe that looks like porcelain? I know they won’t be water proof, but that’s okay…they are more decorative.

The smooth air dry clay is the recipe that comes closest to porcelain. Be sure to read Rex’s post to see how he makes the air dry clay really smooth .

Starch plus Elmer glue. Starch plus glass glue will be waterproof

I don’t know what glass glue is – perhaps it isn’t available here in the US? Even if the glue itself is waterproof, you would still have paper, which will absorb water if there are any gaps in the waterproof coating.

Any clear waterproof glue plus starch. Yes, usual paper will absorb water, so it is unwanted in the fake porcelain. But if to use dry paper and then soak it with the waterproof glue … Probably it will not absorb water. For instance, onduline ( https://www.onduline.com/en/corporate/our-solutions/opaque-roofing/onduline-systems ) is made of cardboard and bitumen for roofing

Have you ever tried this? How did your experiments turn out?

Almost … I did not experimented with modern adhesives. I soaked dry toilet paper with diy casein glue (cottage cheese plus lime) and mixed with dolomite dust. Then I formed something like a small vessel. It absorbed water but at the same time it was not destroyed and it did not become soften. I would say it was like a paper limestone

Thanks so much for this. I gave up on paper mache in my teen years due to it always staying mushy or going mouldy before it dried. I live in Australia in the tropics/subtropics, and the humidity is just too high most of the year, plus we have plenty of bugs that love to eat food based paper mache. I have been using your paper mache clay and air dry clay recipes, but am now keen to try traditional paper mache to make larger sculptures. I have got a hold of the cellulose based wall paper glue and will be starting my Halloween decorations soon. Thank you!

could you just make this paste with just Elmers glue and water? if not what could i use that i fnd in everyday kitchen stuff?

The easiest recipe is just white flour and water. You can find the paste recipes here . I don’t like using Elmer’s glue, but only because it’s slick and the paper strips slide around while you’re working – but many people like it a lot. When I use glue with paper strips, I use Titebond wood glue, instead.

This was really helpful thank you a whole lot

You’re welcome. 🙂

Will basic mod podge (the gloss or the matte ones) work in place of elmer’s glue? Have you ever had success trying mod podge in any recipes?

I have never used Mod Podge in anything, so I can’t tell you if it will work or not. If it’s a PVA glue, it should work – but you’ll have to try it to see. If it does, please let us know.

Basic Modge Podge is just a type of PVA glue, so it would work if you wanted to use it, but it’s expensive. Modge Podge is better for some applications, but in this instance, I would say spend $5 on some PVA glue… Unless you just need to use up some old Modge Podge.

Hmmm… no salt or sugar? Anyway, I want to make a bowl with a layer of tissue paper, then yarn scraps. I want this bowl to be hand washable in that it will be used for dry snacks such as nuts, etc. Also, I’d like to seal it. Any suggestions? Many thanks for these recipes and any help you might offer me!

Hi Sally. There are a few food-safe sealers used for cutting boards and wooden bowls. I think they’re wax-based, and I don’t know if they would seal paper mache well enough to be washed. I don’t think any varnish would work, either – they all seem to be slightly porous. Some people use Flexseal for outdoor sculptures, but you’d have to read the label to see if it’s food safe or not. I never make paper mache bowels, though, so I’m probably the wrong person to ask. The people who made this video might have better advice than I do. Good luck with it!

Mod Podge makes a dishwasher safe, food grade sealer that should work well. Just make sure your project is fully dry, use their sealer on top as directed. Do be aware That it takes a month to fully cure for the dishwasher, but in my experience it’s dry to the touch in a few days.

Thanks for the tip, Dash. I hadn’t heard of that product. It sounds like something we should experiment with – have you ever made an outdoor sculpture with it?

Hey Sally, if you’re still working on this project, I’d recommend a food safe epoxy resin (though all epoxy is pretty safe once set if not used with hot food). It does take a little extra work but gives a really professional finish that will last ages, and can be polished if it gets scratched. You might have to look at a specialist art supply place for a good clear and UV stable resin (perhaps look for a jewellery resin) and there are countless youtube tutorials on resin coating items.

Depending on the size and shape of your piñata you could insert a wire clothes hanger into the body. I’ve used them and shaped the hanger into a round to fit in round shaped piñatas. You can shape the hanger into just about any shape I start the piñata from the bottom up so when it’s halfway I insert the hanger and continue up the form. I end up curling the hook around a rod or dowel that leaves enough room for the rope to pass through it. I basically creat a “spring” and feed the rope through it and use a bunch of knots to secure the rope. If your making little piñatas as decorations just use a fine wire.

How do I attach the string to the piñata To hang it. once it is complete?

HI Ruth. I’ve never made a piñata, so I don’t know how it would be done. You might want to ask your question on the Daily Sculptors page – a lot more people would see it, and one of my other readers might have an idea for you.

Hi, I think the easiest way is to use a balloon, especially if you want a round piñata. I start at the bottom with my strips and glue them on. My uncle used plain brown wrapping paper for the first two layers, after it dried he would use gesso applying it thinly but hiding the brown color. After it dried he would begin with the tissue paper. If you are making an animal add legs or arms out of the brown paper, place/glue them where they need to be. Then use the gesso or white acrylic paint over all of it. My first attempts were almost un breakable for young kids-I added on too many layers of the brown paper. Paper grocery bags work well too. I work in wire or a metal coat hanger to creat a loop to tie rope to it. If it’s decorative fine wire is all you need but if it hold tons of candy the coat hanger is very strong

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5 best recipes for paper mache pdf


"5 best recipes for paper mache".

Includes Jonni’s famous Paper Mache Clay recipe, and tips on choosing the right recipe for your next project.

Quill And Fox

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how to make a paper mache

Amber Robertson

Amber Robertson is the founder of Quill and Fox. A creative writing studio that helps people find their voice and share their stories. Amber is also a published author, with her first book slated for release in 2020. She loves spending time with her family and friends, reading, writing, and traveling. When Amber was younger, she loved to write short stories and plays. But somewhere along the way, she lost touch with her creativity. It wasn’t until she became a mom that she realized how important it was to share her stories—both the good and the bad—with the people she loves most. That’s when Quill and Fox was born. Amber is passionate about helping others find their voice and share their stories. She believes that every person has a story worth telling, and it’s her mission to help them tell it in a way that is authentic and true to themselves

How To Make A Paper Macha

How to Make a Paper Maché: A Step-by-Step Guide

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Table of Contents

Paper maché is a versatile and affordable material that you can use to create various crafts, from masks and sculptures to bowls and piñatas. It’s easy to make, and with some creativity, you can turn a few sheets of paper and some glue into a unique piece of art.

In this article, we’ll walk you through the process of making paper maché from start to finish. We’ll cover all the materials you need, the steps to prepare the paper pulp, creating the base structure, shaping and designing, drying and finishing, and some tips and tricks to make your paper maché projects successful.

Preparing the Materials

Painting and decorating is the final step in making paper maché

Before you start making paper maché, you need to gather all the materials you’ll need. Here’s a list of essential items:

You can use various types of paper to make paper maché, from newspaper and printer paper to tissue paper and paper towels. However, it’s best to use unprinted, white or light-colored paper, as the ink can bleed and stain the final product. Tear the paper into small pieces and soak them in water for a few hours to soften them.

You’ll need a glue solution to bind the paper together and create a solid structure. You can use various types of glue, such as white glue, school glue, or glue sticks. Mix the glue with water in a 1:1 ratio to create a paste that’s easy to spread and work with.

Bowls and Containers

You’ll need a few bowls or containers to mix the paper pulp and glue solution. Use disposable ones or ones you don’t mind getting dirty, as the paper maché can be messy.


You’ll need a few paintbrushes to apply the glue solution and shape the paper maché. Use different sizes and shapes to create different textures and patterns.

Scissors and Utility Knife

You’ll need a pair of scissors to cut the paper into small pieces and a utility knife to shape and cut the paper maché structure. Use them carefully and keep them away from children.

Plastic Wrap and Aluminum Foil

You’ll need some plastic wrap and aluminum foil to cover the base structure and prevent the paper maché from sticking to it. Use them to create a smooth surface and easy removal.

Creating the Base Structure

Once you have all the materials ready, it’s time to create the base structure for your paper maché project. The base structure will serve as the foundation for your artwork, and you can shape and design it as you like. Here are the steps to create the base structure:

Choosing the Base Structure

You can use various materials to create the base structure for your paper maché, such as balloons, wire, cardboard, or foam. Choose a material that’s sturdy, easy to shape, and suitable for your project’s size and shape.

Creating the Frame

Once you’ve chosen the base structure, it’s time to create the frame. Use the scissors or utility knife to shape the material into the desired shape and size. For example, if you’re making a bowl, you can shape the cardboard into a bowl shape and tape the edges to create a sturdy frame.

Covering the Frame with Paper Pulp

Once you have the frame ready, it’s time to cover it with paper pulp. Dip the small pieces of paper into the glue solution and apply them to the frame, smoothing them out as you go. Cover the entire frame with a layer of paper pulp, and let it dry for a few hours.

Shaping and Designing

After the paper pulp has dried, you can start shaping and designing your paper maché project. Here are the steps to shape and design your artwork:

Tools Needed

You’ll need some tools to shape and design your paper maché project, such as sandpaper, a craft knife, and a paintbrush. Sandpaper can help you smooth out any rough edges or bumps, and the craft knife can help you cut and shape the paper maché. The paintbrush can help you apply the final layer of paint or varnish.

Shaping the Paper Maché

Use the craft knife to shape and cut the paper maché as desired. You can create different textures and patterns by cutting the paper maché at different angles or depths. Be careful not to cut too deep or damage the base structure.

Adding Details and Designs

Once you’ve shaped the paper maché, it’s time to add some details and designs. You can use paint, markers, or other materials to add color and texture to your artwork. Be creative and experiment with different techniques to create a unique piece of paper maché art.

Drying and Finishing

Once you’ve completed the shaping and designing of your paper maché project, it’s time to let it dry. Here’s how you can dry your paper maché:

The most common method is air drying, which involves leaving your paper maché project in a dry, well-ventilated area for a few days or until it’s completely dry. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can cause the paper to fade and the glue to weaken.

Oven Drying

If you’re in a rush or live in a humid environment, you can speed up the drying process by using your oven. Set your oven to the lowest temperature, place your paper maché project on a baking tray, and leave it in the oven for a few hours or until it’s dry. Keep an eye on it to prevent it from burning or overheating.

Sanding and Smoothing

Once your paper maché project is dry, you can use sandpaper or a sanding block to smooth out any rough edges or bumps. Be gentle and work in a circular motion, starting with a coarse grit sandpaper and gradually moving to a finer grit. You can also use a damp sponge or cloth to smooth out the surface.

Painting and Decorating

The last step is to paint and decorate your paper maché project. You can use acrylic paint, spray paint, or any other type of paint that’s suitable for the surface. You can also add details and designs using markers, glitter, or other embellishments. Let the paint dry completely before handling your paper maché project.

Tips and Tricks

Here are some tips and tricks to make your paper maché projects successful:

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

  • Using too much water in the glue solution, which can make the paper maché too thin and weak. Use a 1:1 ratio of glue and water.
  • Using too little glue in the paper pulp, which can make the paper maché brittle and prone to cracking. Use enough glue to make the paper pulp sticky and moldable but not too wet.
  • Rushing the drying process, which can cause the paper maché to warp or deform. Let it dry naturally or use a low-temperature oven.

Creative Ideas for Paper Maché Projects

  • Animal masks or sculptures
  • Flower vases or bowls
  • Piñatas or party decorations
  • Halloween decorations or props
  • Jewelry boxes or trinket dishes

Safety Precautions

  • Use gloves and a mask when working with the glue solution, as it can irritate the skin and lungs.
  • Keep sharp tools, such as scissors and utility knives, away from children.
  • Work in a well-ventilated area and avoid inhaling the paper pulp or glue solution.

how to make a paper mache

How to make paper mache (papier-mâché)

  • Emily Kerrigan

Papier-mâché, or what's more commonly searched for as paper mache, is the perfect activity for kids. Discover our winning recipe, step-by-step guide and easy video to make your project a breeze...

This paper mache recipe is the perfect way to spend a rainy afternoon inside. It's quick enough to hold a young child's attention and you only need a few storecupboard ingredients.

For more hands-on crafts, see how to make slime , salt dough , oobleck and moon sand with affordable ingredients and easy steps.

Keep the little ones entertained at home with our summer activities for kids , sensory play ideas , fun yoga for kids and birthday ideas for kids at home .

See our new Kid's Kitchen series for essential cookery skills, plus easy recipes kids can make and kids summer baking projects .

Browse our family & kids hub for plenty of inspiration.

Girl playing with paper mache

Paper mache recipe

Makes 1 big batch Prep 10 minutes

  • An old newspaper, comics or magazines
  • 1 level mug of plain flour
  • 1 level mug of warm water, plus extra tap water for loosening

1. Tear or cut strips or little squares from your newspaper, comics or magazines according to the project you're working on. Do this first before you make the paste so that the paste doesn’t set while you’re cutting paper.

2. Stir together the flour and warm water in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Add extra tap water a little at a time to loosen. You want a smooth, batter-like paste with no lumps. You can sift the flour first for a super smooth finish.

3. Cover your work area in more old newspaper. Dip the paper strips in the paste, wipe off the excess on the side of the bowl and stick onto your project. Use a paintbrush to smooth down the paper and remove any air bubbles or excess paste. Repeat to cover and leave to dry before adding further layers. In our video we made a comic-covered tin to use as a pot for storing kids’ cutlery and covered a balloon to paint and turn into a face, globe – or anything else you dream up.

How to make paper mache

For inspiration, visit our friends at 5 Minute Fun and discover 5 easy papier-mâché makes .

Like this? Try more activities for kids:

Indoor activities for kids Playdough recipe How to make salt dough How to make a bath bomb How to make bubbles How to make slime without borax Top 10 easy bakes for children How to make a pom-pom Family & kids hub page

Keep little gardeners busy with more fun crafts...

How to make a herb garden Easy rock painting for kids How to make a fairy door How to make a stick photo frame How to make a bee flowerpot How to make garden wind chimes 5 easy garden crafts for kids Fruit & veg for kids to grow

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How to Make Paper Mache

Home » DIY » How to Make Paper Mache

  • Pinterest 19.7K

how to make paper mache

Make paper mache with kids with all-natural ingredients. You can then use it to create all sorts of cute projects for kids and teens.

paper mache ball

Doesn’t paper mache just take you right back to your childhood? I remember long summer afternoons when my mother and I would get our hands all messy and squishy making our very own paper mache dough from scratch!

kneading paper mache

Just making the dough—we called the lumpy paper that and the name stuck—was super fun, but why stop there? You can make a ton of craft items with it, like little trinket bowls, ornaments, and even paper mache alphabets.

paper mache crafts

Watch Full Tutorial: How to Make Paper Mache

Supplies and Tools You’ll Need for Paper Mache

Here’s a list of supplies and tools you need to make your paper mache dough:

  • 1/2 toilet paper roll
  • Cheesecloth
  • 1/2 glass of water
  • 1/2 glass of wheat flour

craft supplies

You should definitely consider laying out plenty—and I mean plenty —of paper towels or newspapers around you while you work on this DIY project . It’s going to be messy right from the get-go.

If you’ve laid out newspapers over your work surface, you can get right down to the fun and therapeutic part of this project: shredding paper!

Go ahead and start ripping your paper into smaller pieces before putting them in a bowl.

ripping toilet paper

You can definitely use newspapers, as well. Just remember to tear the newspaper into really small pieces as the dough will end up thicker and harder if you don’t.

cut up newspaper in bowl

While you’re shredding the paper, put a kettle on. It’s not just to make yourself a cup of tea, although you definitely should. You’re going to pour boiling water over your shredded paper and let it sit for a couple of hours.

pouring boiling water

The hot water helps with breaking down the cellulose, and your paper will get all soft and squishy. Don’t skip this step, though. When you let the paper sit in the boiling water, your dough will end up more pliant.

Also, if you use newspaper, then you will have to let it sit in the water overnight. Newspaper is much thicker and needs more time to soften and for the cellulose to break down.

paper and water in bowl

Next, when you’re sure your paper has been sitting in the water long enough, grab a hand blender and mush everything into pulp. You will either love the squelching sounds you’ll hear, or you won’t.

Me? I get a kick out of it!

blending paper mixture

Stop pulping the paper when it looks something like this.

holding paper mixture

It’s time to strain your pulp and drain all that water. Place a cheesecloth over a big bowl and carefully pour your paper pulp into the cloth.

cheesecloth in bowl

Gather the ends and squeeze the excess water out of the pulp into the bowl below. If you think you’ve squeezed enough, just do it again, just to be extra sure!

paper mix in cheesecloth

When you take the pulp out of the cheesecloth, it should look something like this.  Break the pulp into little pieces and put them into a bowl.

holding paper mache

If I didn’t know better, I’d say it looks an awful lot like ricotta or cottage cheese.

paper bits in bowl

Now, you’re going to prepare the binding paste to turn that pulp into your paper mache dough. Grab another bowl and add your white flour to it. You can just as easily use cornstarch which will be just as effective, if not more so.

holding cup

Stir your water in—not all at once, but in parts so that the flour doesn’t turn lumpy. Your paste should be smooth and sticky but not runny. You will need to cook this paste, so to speak. Place the contents in a saucepan with the heat on low.

flour mixture in bowl

The mixture needs to be heated for around five minutes, or until the water evaporates and you have a thick and creamy paste. You have to keep stirring the paste constantly, or it will burn.

Alternatively, you can pop it into a microwave. Heat the paste for 15-20 seconds, take it out, stir vigorously, and then it goes in there again for another round. Repeat this a few times till the paste thickens.

spoon of flour mix

Spoon the paste onto the pulp.

adding flour to paper mix

This part is my absolute favorite: rolling and kneading the dough. But first, roll up your sleeves; it’s going to get messy.

mixing paper and flour

If your dough is wet, just sprinkle a little flour over, and keep rolling. If it’s too dry, just a few drops of water should help soften it. Kids, in particular, will love this part of the activity!

holding paper mache ball

When you’re all done, your paper mache dough will look like this—good enough to eat and even better to start making your paper mache craft items.

ball of paper mache

What Can I Make from Paper Mache?

There’s absolutely no limit to what you can do with paper mache. Just making the dough can be a great activity, but when you do have the dough ready, you can make a ton of things.

If you have a chocolate or candy molk just press the dough into it and flatten it out. When it’s dry, you can pop it out, paint it, and use it as ornaments and baubles.

putting paper mache in mould

If you want to make lesson time more fun and creative for your little ones, then make a set of paper mache alphabets and use them to teach toddlers their ABCs.

letter A with paper mache

You can also make trinket trays, bowls, and small dishes, and use it to store, well, trinkets! Just cover the outside of a plastic or glass bowls with clear wrap or cling film, spread a drop of oil around it, turn it around, and stick paper mache dough around it, just so.

making bowl shape

Can You Use Hairdryer to Dry Paper Mache?

Yes you can use a hairdryer to dry your paper mache. However, you should turn the heat setting down to low, or your mache will scorch. Remember, paper mache is pretty flammable! Besides, using a hairdryer might not dry the paper mache evenly, either.

Smaller pieces will dry up faster, while bigger ones will definitely take longer. Just allow whatever you end up making to air dry for at least 2-3 days—longer if the item in question is thicker. Once dry, you can go ahead and paint it.

Here’s a tip: if you want your paper mache to last longer, add a teaspoon of salt to the dough just before you start kneading. You can store the dough in the fridge for up to a week, as well!

paper mache shapes

Other Crafts You Might Want to Make

  • 41 Cardboard Crafts
  • How to Make Paper Tissue Paper Flowers
  • How to Make Paper Lanterns
  • 27 Classroom Crafts
  • How to Make Paper Squishies
  • DIY Paper Flowers
  • DIY Paper Rings
  • 31 Summer Crafts for Kids
  • 31 Paper Crafts for Kids
  • 37 Tissue Paper Crafts

paper mache crafts

How to Make Paper Mache (Step-by-Step)

diy paper mache

Love crafting? Learn how to make paper mache and make a bunch of fun crafts out of it!


  • Gather all the materials listed out to begin.
  • First, lay out plenty of paper towels over your work surface to control messes and spills.
  • Now, tear paper or newspaper into tiny pieces and put them in a big bowl. You can also use a pair of scissors. Newspaper is thicker and so, tear it into much smaller pieces.
  • Next, pour boiling water over the paper and let it sit for at least 2 hours(overnight if you used newspaper). The hot water will break down cellulose and turn your paper into pliable pulp.
  • Drain the pulp into a cheesecloth and squeeze the excess water out. Squeeze until you’re sure you managed to get all the moisture out of the pulp.
  • Remove the pulp from the cheesecloth and break it into tiny pieces and put everything in a bowl.
  • To make the flour paste, add flour(or cornstarch) to another bowl and mix in some water. Then, place this paste over low heat and stir continuously as it ‘cooks’ for 4-5 minutes. When the excess water evaporates, your paste should be smooth and sticky.
  • Alternatively, pop the paste into a microwave for 15-20 seconds, take it out, stir it, and pop it back in for another round. Repeat this 4-5 times and you’ll have your paste.
  • Pour the paste onto the pulp and knead them into a pliant dough. You can store this dough for up to a week in the refrigerator.
  • Go ahead and make a ton of paper mache craft items with your dough. Once you allow everything to air dry for a couple of days, you’re all done!

How to make paper mache

How to make paper mache is all about paper, glue and water, and a little bit of imagination.

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How to make paper mache illustrated by boy crafting with woman

On a wet day, knowing how to make paper mache at home can be a fun way to keep the kids entertained.  

All you need is a simple paper mache recipe, which we provide below, along with a straightforward step-by-step guide to creating paper mache crafts. As crafts go it really is a surprisingly easy craft to do with kids , so if you're struggling to think of things to do with children , this one's a winner. All you need is;

  • Newspaper strips
  • Plain flour & salt
  • Emulsion paint & paintbrush

"Paper mache is a fun art activity for children and a mindful journey, a calming escape in an era of digital distractions." Jéssica Dorantes, Educational Expert at  toucanBox tells us. Follow our easy instructions below on how to make simple paper mache using basic household materials, listed below, that you likely already have on hand.

  • Tear the sheets of newspaper into strips of about 3 inches long and then put to one side.
  • Cover the strips of paper with the glue or homemade glue paste (recipe below), on both sides with a paintbrush - it's best to do this on a flat and covered surface, turning them over with the paintbrush as you go.
  • Using your fingers, place your glue-soaked strips one at a time over the object you're covering and smooth down with your brush to release air bubbles. Repeat this process three times to really layer it up.

Use a balloon to make a paper mache bowl

  • Leave to dry. Then, when it is completely dried out, you can gradually build up more layers to get to the required strength and thickness of the mache.
  • When it is all completely dry - this may take overnight - paint with two coats of emulsion paint to seal it. When it's dry you can paint it your desired colour.

How to make paper mache paste

In a bowl and mix one part sieved flour with one part of water (eg, 1 cup flour and 1 cup water, or 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water) until you get a thick glue-like consistency.

Pour the water into the flour to make a paper mache paste

If you think it's too thick just add a bit more water a teaspoon at a time. Mix well with a wooden spoon to get rid of all the bumps. Finally, add a few tablespoons of salt to help prevent mould.

If you're using an object like a bowl to create a certain shape, be sure to smear the half that you're applying the strips to with a very light layer of vaseline, this makes it a lot easier to remove once the paper mache has dried. Though you could always use a balloon, then burst it to remove.

What are the benefits of paper mache for kids?

Crafting paper mache helps your children boost their creativity and imagination. With this craft, they can make anything they can possibly dream of, from surreal shapes to specific objects.  

Jessica tells us; "we [at toucanBox] believe in the transformative power of hands-on art like paper mache — it doesn't just spark creativity, it nurtures essential life skills that every child should embrace."

She adds; "Beyond relaxation, the process of tearing, layering, and moulding paper not only helps children to develop fine motor skills but also fosters their imagination and creativity. It hones hand-eye coordination and develops perseverance as kids layer and shape their visions into tangible forms."

They'll feel a great sense of achievement once their creations harden and are ready to decorate. Another benefit of paper mache is that your child will need to follow a set of instructions, first in making the gloopy mixture, then in manipulating it to make shapes. This helps them to understand the concept of taking the right steps in the right order. They'll also develop patience as the paper mache dries out.

Once you've successfully made your own paper mache, maybe try making your own calm down jar or learn How to tie dye t-shirts and even How to make coasters from scrabble tiles .

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Esme is Future's resident craft expert, working across titles such as GoodTo, Woman&Home, Woman’s Weekly, Woman, Woman’s Own, Chat, Now, Pick Me Up and The Craft Network. Successfully turning her sewing hobby into a career, she's adept in a number of crafts, including sewing, papercraft, calligraphy, embroidery and printing.

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how to make a paper mache

how to make a paper mache

How to make paper mache with PVA glue

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Looking for the perfect paper mache recipe? We'll show you how to make paper mache using PVA glue to craft sweet little trinket pots using cookie cutters that the kids will love!

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How to make paper mache main

This competition is now closed

By Hannah Bellis

Published: December 10, 2020 at 9:30 am

It isn’t just balloons that are good for covering in paper mache! You can cover so many different shaped objects with this fun paper mache recipe. The reason that balloons are so popular is that they can be removed with just once prick of a pin, and POP – your paper mache balloon shape is free! We’re going to show you 3 great methods you can use to release your paper mache from solid objects, so you cans see how to make paper mache fun shaped objects. We’re using cookie cutters to build up some little mini trinket pots, but you can use anything you like – just remember you’ll need to be able to slide you paper mache off it, so one side must be left open, with an opening wide enough for the object to be removed.

What is paper mache?

Paper mache (or p apier – mâché to give it its proper name ) literally means chewed paper. With this technique, absorbent paper, often newspaper is torn into strips and mixed with a sticky paste. The strips are shaped around an object and take on the shape of that object once the paste is dry. You can use different papers like tissue paper, but you don’t want anything with a surface finish on it, so if it looks glossy, it probably wont take up the paste too well so it wont properly mash together. Tearing the paper into strips rather than cutting it also helps to create a more absorbent edge for taking up with stitch paste and really sticking nicely.

Paper mache recipe

There are several methods you can use to make the paste for your paper mache. You can mix water with flour, you can use wallpaper paste or you can use PVA glue mixed with water. We are focusing on how to make paper mache with PVA glue in this article, but if you want to see how to make paper mache with flour, you’ll find a recipe on our sister site, BBC Good Food. Click for the flour paper mache tutorial . You might also like our Easy Salt Dough Recipe post.

What do you need to make paper mache?

  • Newspaper torn into strips – 2x5cm is a good size
  • PVA craft glue
  • Paintbrush – 1cm wide is a good size

How to make paper mache

  • Mix 1 part PVA craft glue with 2 parts water to make your paper mache paste.
  • You don’t need to be super accurate – there is no need to measure out your ingredients, it is fine to approximate this by eye. But a ratio of 2 parts water to 1 part PVA glue is a good rule of thumb.
  • If you are exploring how to make paper mache with kids, it’s a good idea to use a child-friendly PVA craft glue as this will be water soluble so easily removed from clothing and hands, but we’ve used a water resistant wood PVA glue with this technique and it has still worked.
  • Mix the glue and the water together until they are combined, then your paper mache paste is ready to use.

Take a look at our video tutorial to see how to paper mache and how the layers and built up as you learn how to make paper mache with PVA glue. If you prefer a photographic walkthrough showing how to make paper mache, you’ll find these under the video.

You Will Need

  • Petroleum jelly
  • Cookie cutters

Total time:

Minimum drying time

How to make paper mache: Clingfilm method

paper mache recipe step 1

Begin by tearing your newspaper strips. 2x5cm is a good size to work with for our cookie cutters, but if you are making  larger paper mache object, bigger strips may work better for you. We’re investigating 3 different ways of releasing the paper mache cast from the object it is made around – wrapping the object in clingfilm, greasing it with a layer of petroleum jelly and using a layer of water soaked paper strips underneath the glue paper mache. If you want to try the clingfilm method, start by wrapping your shape in clingfilm

How to make paper mache: Petroleum jelly method

paper mache recipe step 2

If you want to try the petroleum jelly method, thoroughly cover the outside of your shape with a layer of petroleum jelly. You can also use vegetable oil as an alternative to the petroleum jelly if you like, but we prefer using the jelly as the vegetable oil can mark the paper mache bowl, wheat the petroleum jelly later will not mark the paper mache.

How to make paper mache: Wet paper method

paper mache recipe

The wet paper layer method is the most straightforward, as you start by applying your newspaper strips to your shape in the same way as you do for paper mache, but using just water and no glue paper mache paste. Dampen the newspaper using a wet paintbrush, or dip it straight into your water pot!

How to make paper mache step 4

Use a wet paintbrush to help mould the wet newspaper around your shape, pushing it into the crevices at the side and wrapping the newspaper all around the shape until you have completely covered the bottom layer.

paper mache recipe step 5

Now it is time to mix up your paper mache paste! We do this after you have applied the bottom water layer of newspaper if you are using this method, as you want to be certain there is no glue on your brush when you use it to apply the first layer, only water. Put a big dollop of PVA glue into a pot and add twice as much water, then mix together to combine the glue and water into a paste.

paper mache recipe step 6

Use a paintbrush to add paper mache paste to the newspaper strip and form it round your shape as before. We don’t recommend dipping your newspaper strip into the paste directly as this can get very messy very quickly! Even applying it with a brush, you will still get some drips so make sure your surface is protected. We are using a craft mat.

How to make paper mache step 7

To make a base for your paper mache pot, lay the cookie cutter down on the mat, and use your paintbrush to flatten down the newspaper through the centre of the cookie cutter. Once you are happy with the finish on the pot, and once you have at least 4 layers of newspaper built up in your paper mache, turn the cookie cutter upside down and leave your pot to dry. It will take at least 24 hours for them to dry properly.

How to make paper mache step 8

Now we are going to paper mache using the clingfilm method. There is no need to apply a water-only layer of paper here, as the clingfilm will sit between the cookie cutter and the glue to stop them sticking together. Apply a newspaper strip using the paper mache glue paste. and form it round your shape as before.

paper mache recipe step 9

Having the clingfilm over the bottom of the shape makes it much easier to make the bottom of your bowl, as you can use the clingfilm as a surface to apply your newspaper strips on top of. Once you have at least 4 layers of newspaper in place, turn your paper mache upside down and leave it to dry. It will take at least 24 hours for them to dry properly.

paper mache recipe step 10

Now we are going to paper mache using the petroleum jelly method. There is no need to apply a water-only layer of paper here, as the petroleum jelly will sit between the cookie cutter and the glue to stop them sticking together. Apply a newspaper strip using the paper mache glue paste and form it round your shape as before.

paper mache recipe step 11

You need to leave your paper mache for at least 24 hours to dry, and if you have made it very thick, it may take even longer. You’ll be able to tell when it is dry as the newspaper will have returned to its normal colour and will sound hollow when you give it a tap. Use a blunt edge like a wooden lolly stick to work around the edge of the paper mache, gently easing the edge loose from the cookie cutter.

paper mache recipe step 4

Once you start to feel the paper mache coming lose, gently ease the bowl away from the shape, using the lolly stick as a lever if you need to. This bowl was made using the petroleum jelly method, and this is our tip pick if you are working with a more pointy shape like our star. You release the bowl made using the water method in exactly the same way, but the water method can be tricky on more pointed shape likes our star.

paper mache recipe step 14

If you’ve used the clingfilm method, you start by unwrapping the clingfilm that you can see at the top of your shape.

paper mache recipe step 15

You may then be able to simply slide the paper mache off the shape, but we still needed to loosen it with a lolly stick first before it would slide off. Peel off the clingfilm from inside your bowl to reveal the paper mache shape.

Paper mache recipe step 16

If the edges of your paper mache pots are a bit tatty, you can trim them with some sharp scissors, but we don’t recommend painting them as this can make them wet again and they can lose their shape. You can embellish them with washi tape or stick-on gems and fill them with all your favourite little things.

How to make paper mache Q&A

How many layers of paper mache do you need.

You need at least 4 layers of newspaper in your paper mache to make a nice rigid shape. You can use more, but if you go too bulky you can lose definition on your shape and it will take much longer to dry properly. Between 4 and 6 layers is optimum.

How long does paper mache take to dry?

For 4 layers of paper mache, you’ll need to leave at least 24 hours for your paper mache to dry.

What can I make with paper mache?

Now you’ve learnt how to make paper mache you’ll need some projects to work on! T ake a look at our paper mache ideas article and find loads of creative inspiration. The kids will never be bored again. If you’re looking for a fun craft for yourself, try these lovely paper cutting templates .

More craft ideas with kids

We hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to make paper mache! Want to try some other fun crafts with your children? Try out this neat how to make slime tutorial . Find more paper crafts for kids or try our fun craft ideas for kids to make at home feature.

easy paper crafts for kids specs

Hannah Bellis

Knitting Editor, Gathered

Hannah has worked on Gathered for 3 years, since our launch in 2019. At school Hannah learned to knit collaborating on dorcas blankets – now she edits our knitting section. She inherited her love of stitching and embroidery from her talented grandmother, and her passion for thread led her to be Editor of The World of Cross Stitching for six years. Card making is a more recent passion, developing from her position as editor of Cross Stitch Card Shop. She loves using kinetic techniques to make cards that move – she was editor of Papercraft inspirations magazine for over four years, creating loads of card making video tutorials at www.youtube.com/PapercraftTV.

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Paper Mache Beginner’s Guide (Easy!)

Written by Rebecca E. Parsons

This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission, you can find our privacy policy here.

Paper Mache Beginner’s Guide

Hello my sweet Graphics Fairy friends! It’s Rebecca E. Parsons here, back today with a fun tutorial for a Paper Mache Beginner’s Guide! Paper Mache is a marvelous art form for beginners because people of all age groups can enjoy the simple applications of this technique without any prior experience. In this tutorial, we will make a nifty little Paper Mache Bowl using an inflated balloon as a mold. I’ll even included 2 recipes for the mixture you will need, one is a flour paste recipe and one for water and glue paper mache. Easy peasy! Plus we will decorate the inside of our bowl with a beautiful Graphics Fairy bird!

Paper Mache Bowl

What is Paper Mache?

In simple terms, paper mache refers to the layering of paste moistened paper onto a blank surface. The paper then dries into the shape of that blank surface. Cool! The term paper mache is derived from the French words Papier-mâché, meaning of all things “chewed paper.” Paper mache is a method of crafting in which paper is combined with a ‘paste’ to create a wide variety of objects.

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You can create something as simple a little bowl to something as grand as a Mardi Gras float and even a useable canoe! This age old craft dates back thousands of years to Egypt and China.

Easy Paper Mache Bowl

Materials Needed

The basic materials needed for paper mache crafting include:

  • Newsprint Paper (I prefer blank newsprint, but you can use old printed newspapers as well)
  • An Adhesive (see options below)
  • Vaseline (for highly detailed molds)

How to Make Paper Mache

There are two options for preparing your paper for paper mache. One method uses paper pulp created by placing paper scraps into boiling water or soaking the paper in water overnight, then mixing in an adhesive. This is best for sculpting and intricate designs. The most commonly used method requires tearing strips of paper, soaking them in paste or adhesive, then laying them on a shape. The adhesive used to moisten the paper acts as the binding agent. The outer shell hardens as the paper dries. After drying, your paper mache creation can be painted and decorated. We will be using the ‘strips of paper’ method in our crafting.

A soft paper that is easy to mold is the best option for paper mache. Although different types of paper can be applied, torn strips of newspaper is the definitive choice for most crafters. It is inexpensive; free if you use old newspapers! It is very absorbent and thin. I actually buy unprinted newsprint that is used as packing paper when moving. TIP : Make sure that it is uncoated. I prefer this because newspaper ink stains the piece. That is fine however if you plan to paint it.

As always, I encourage you to experiment. You can use lightweight papers like 20-24 lb. printer paper. Just make sure that you soak them a little longer so they absorb the glue. I have heard of people using cotton or rag papers with success as well. Those would be pricey though. NOTE :  Coated and glossy papers like magazine pages will not work!

Paper mache bowl with transfer of blue jay

The Adhesive

Crafters have two choices for the adhesive:

  • Homemade Flour Paste : A part water, part flour mix. There isn’t really an exact flour to water ratio, but 1 cup flour to 1 cup water is a good reference point. It is best to use a whisk and bowl to create the flour based paste.
  • Ready-made Glue Mix : Plain white school glue (PVA glue like Elmer’s) mixed with water is very popular. Wood glue can also be used. White PVA school glue should be mixed 2 parts glue to 1 part water. A 4 ounce bottle is mixed with 1/4 cup of water.

The use of glue is similar to using flour, but glue produces a stronger structure and is less likely to deteriorate over time.

Salt : I recommend use of salt for preventing future mold on your paper mache project. It also speeds up the drying process by removing excess moisture from the paper more quickly. It is optional, of course.

Advanced Paper Mache

Three-dimensional paper mache sculptures can be created by starting with foam core board that you can cut to form whatever your imagination leads you to. Whether it be a face, birds, flowers, etc., the options here are virtually limitless. Wire can also be utilized as a reinforcement tool or by itself to actually build the ‘skeleton’ for a sculpture. The paper mache that covers the skeleton can be viewed as the ‘flesh’ of the sculpture.

Another optional material is vaseline. This is utilized if you decide to create a paper mache piece by covering your paper over a mold of some sort by rubbing vaseline over the mold first to prevent the paper from sticking to the mold.

Paper Mache Bowl used as a container (not food dafe)

How to Seal Paper Mache

You generally do not have to seal paper mache items. YAY! However, sealing can be beneficial if you want the paper mache surface to be very smooth. Prior to sealing, you can use sandpaper to smooth out rough areas. If any gaps or wrinkling remains after sanding, a sealant can fill in the uneven parts. TIP : Sealers should be applied after your paper mache item has dried completely. Overnight is best for smaller pieces. Thicker pieces can take several days.

Gesso is highly recommended for use as the sealant since it dries very hard and provides an excellent finish that is ideal for applying acrylic paints. The best way to apply gesso is with a sponge or brush in multiple thin layers. Gesso is available in clear, white, and black. It dries in just a few minutes. People have had success with Mod Podge as a sealer as well.

How to Paint Paper Mache

Make certain that the surface is dust free and completely dry before you paint. Also be sure that the paper mache layers are not loose or uneven before painting. If there are loose pieces, just put a dab of white glue to hold it down. Painting with acrylic paint and a paintbrush is the preferred method of painting on paper mache. Acrylic paint is ideal because it is waterproof and has many color options. NOTE : The paint needs to be thoroughly dry between applications.

Acrylic markers sometimes are used instead of acrylic paint, and are a viable option. Watercolors are not ideal because they aren’t waterproof and tend to dry somewhat soft and dull. Additionally, watercolors and other paints can actually damage the unsealed paper itself. If you wish to apply your own personal touches to your project after painting, colored pencils or waterproof marker pens are a splendid choice. There are of course many other ways to embellish your work of art with your own, unique ideas!

Sealing After Painting

Your new paper mache creation can be sealed. This is an option that will protect the paint from sunlight and help to maintain vibrancy. The two practical materials for this final stage are gloss varnish or Gloss Mod Podge. Applied with a brush or sprayed, both will dry transparent and leave a hard shiny finish. Acrylic sealing spray is an alternative option and is considerably easier to apply evenly. PLEASE NOTE : The items you create are not food safe!!! They are for decorative use only!!!

How to Make a Paper Mache Bowl

Now that you know everything about creating with paper mache, let’s make a bowl! This is a fun and messy project, so protect your surface well. Kids absolutely love to do this. I find it very satisfying and almost meditative to make these small bowls. I used a small, round balloon for this project.

Craft Supplies

Small Balloon blown up and tied shut Permanent Marker Paper torn into 1/2″ wide strips about 3-6″ long White School Glue 4 oz. mixed 2 parts glue to 1 part water Salt (maybe 1/2 teaspoon) Foam Plate Whisk Gesso Acrylic Paint in color of choice (I used aqua) Blue Jay Print Here  from The Graphics Fairy

Step-by-Step Directions

Step 1 – Prepare the Balloon:  Blow up the balloon. Lightly draw a line around the balloon with a permanent marker. This will give you a guide to the edge area. However, the uneven edges of a Paper Mache bowl are what gives it the carefree look you want.

A Word About Balloons : I prefer to work with a colorful balloon. You can see any thin or gap areas more easily. I learned a lot about balloons while making this tutorial. I first bought a bag of small balloons (2-3″ round) at the grocery store. They were very small and so thin that some of them broke while being blown. I did like the small size bowl I made with them (see below). Then I went to my neighborhood dollar store that only had 6″ balloons. They were sturdy when blown, but larger than I had hoped. I would say that a 4″ balloon would be perfect for what I wanted. Just be aware that inexpensive balloons might frustrate you!

draw a line around balloon with a permanent pen

Step 2 – Tear the Newspaper:   Tear the newsprint paper into strips about 1/2″ wide strips about 3-6″ long.The edges of the ripped paper will have fibers that grasp and grab hold of other pieces easily. (see the strips in the above photo) HINT : Do not cut the strips (tear them) as the crisp edges will be harder to work with . Trust me on this !! NOTE : The bigger the balloon, the longer the strips can be. I used 3″ strips for my 6″ balloon. The edges of wider strips will pucker when laid on the balloon.

Step 3 – Prepare the Paste: Thoroughly mix 2 parts white glue to 1 part water in a foam plate Sprinkle in a little salt; maybe 1/4 teaspoon. I use a wire whisk for this. The mix should be thin but not runny!!! (see photo below)

Mix glue and water with whisk

Step 4 – Dip and Place Newspaper: Place your balloon on top of a glass or jar with the tie inside. This will help to stabilize it while you work and dry the bowl. (see photo below) TIP : I added water to my jars to make them less apt to fall over while working!! WINK

place balloon onto a jar to stabilize it while working and drying

Lay it over the balloon and smooth it down with your fingers. (see photo below)

Smoothing paper mache paper strip onto balloon with finger

Lay the strips randomly in all directions (see photo below). Repeat this process until you have three or 4 layers over the entire balloon.

randomly placed strips of paper

You can hold the balloon up to a light source to see any thin areas. Leave it to dry overnight. The more layers of paper, the longer it will take to dry. If the bowl feels cold to the touch, it is still wet. Allow it to dry completely before removing balloon and decorating !

Step 5 –  Remove the Balloon : There are a few ways to remove the bowl from the balloon. I will share my favorite. PLEASE   NOTE : If the paper is not completely dry, it will be a struggle to remove the balloon . I found this out the hard way!!! Methis 1 worked like a charm on my second bowl. Method 1– Begin at the edges of the bowl where it touches the balloon. There will probably be a few gaps where the paper has started to pull away from the balloon. Start on one of these. Gently press the balloon in, away from the bowl. The paper should pop off fairly easily. Slowly and carefully work your way around the bowl, pressing and releasing the paper. If it is really stuck, allow the bowl to dry more. Method 2– Pop the balloon. Then gently pull the balloon out of the bowl. (ph0to below shows balloon sticking to the bowl) TIP : If it sticks to the bowl … STOP, it is still too wet. Allow to dry longer. Then gently remove the balloon.

breaking the balloon inside of paper mache bowl

Finished Bowl and Bowl Edges

Here is a look at the yummy, uneven edges of a paper mache bowl. The top photo is my test bowl. I did not have enough layers of paper at the edge. The front edge is torn a bit and you can see how translucent it is. But it still works, I think!

Edges of paper mache bowl not layered enough

In this image, you can see the wavy and wispy edges of my finished bowl. Most of the edges have three or four layers of paper in my second try. You can also see the beautiful outside of the bowl, which is unsealed. Using plain newsprint dries to this rustic, almost rough plaster like look and feel. Printed newspaper with have dark areas where the ink was.

Paper Mache Bowl wavy edges

Step 6 –  Decorate : There are several options for decorating your bowl. We will be painting ours and doing a transfer to the inside. But you can stain it, glitter it, gild it, etc.

  • Sand the bowl if necessary according to the directions in the “How to Seal Paper Mache” section above.

apply gesso to the inside of bowl

  • Paint the inside of the bowl with your color of choice. I used Golden’s Acrylic in Cobalt Teal. Allow to dry at least 1 hour. HINT : You want the paint to form a strong bond to the Paper Mache bowl for the transfer to work well. So don’t rush it!
  • Transfer the Bird Image . Photocopy or Laser Image to transfer – I used this  Blue Jay . I am using my Acrylic Paint Transfer Technique to transfer the little bird onto my bowl bottom. Again, I used Golden’s Acrylic in Cobalt Teal spread liberally in th area where the transfer will be. You can find the instructions for this technique HERE ! NOTE : It is a little trickier to transfer an image to a soft and bumpy surface.
  • Take your time; don’t rush.
  • Fussy cut the image leaving just a tiny white edge around it.
  • Apply plenty of paint; more than you may think is necessary. If it dries before you get the image burnished down, those areas will not transfer.
  • Burnish, then burnish more. I used my fingers first and them my bone folder. I worked on this for several minutes to make sure every single part of the image was embedded in the paint.
  • Allow the image to dry at least 3-4 hours before wetting and removing the backing paper. It would be better overnight!
  • Use very little water to remove backing paper. The water necessary to remove the backing paper can soften sealed and unsealed Paper Mache.
  • Rub the paper backing very gently and stop if any of the image begins to come off!!

Close up of Blue Jay transfer inside of paper mache bowl

  • Seal the transfer inside of the bowl with a glossy medium or spray. This will help make the image pop and look clear. I used Mod Podge Gloss Spray! Use the steps in the “Sealing After Painting” section above.
  • Enjoy your bowl!!

Paper Mache Bowl on side

That was a bunch of messy, creative FUN!!! I hope that you enjoyed The Paper Mache Beginner’s Guide and learning How to Make Your Own Paper Mache Bowl with me!! When I am not exploring with new and old Techniques for Mixed Media in my Graphics Fairy sandbox, I also create Photoshop Elements tutorials and craft project tutorial videos over on The Graphics Fairy Premium Membership site . You can find even more of my books, junk journals, mixed media art, classes, and whimsical shenanigans on Rebecca E Parsons Dot Com .

May joy be with you all,

Paper Mache Beginner's Guide Pin

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November 21, 2021 at 8:34 am

Rebecca, you make this sound so easy! I once made a hot air balloon with my daughter for her bedroom (long, long ago) Tonight my grandboys are spending the night and I am thinking we will use your directions and make a Christmas bowl for their mother! Thank you so much. I also thought with them making the bowl maybe a photo transfer of the two of them might be fun. Have you tried that? Anything I need to be cautious of doing or not doing. I would hate to ruin their bowl. They loved making paper together so I am thinking they will love this. Again thank you for the very clear instructions.

Karen Watson says

November 21, 2021 at 4:12 pm

Hi Sandy, I’m so glad you liked Rebecca’s project! What a great idea to make a Christmas bowl with your grandkids! If you are going to do the photo transfer, I would definitely create a little scrap paper mache piece that you can experiment on before doing it on the actual bowl. Since we all have different types printers, ink, and use different brands of paint, it’s best to try it for yourself on a practice piece so that you know exactly how it will turn out, with your supplies I hope that helps!

Giuseppa says

November 8, 2021 at 8:30 am

Grazie. La spiegazione è chiarissima.

November 8, 2021 at 6:07 pm

November 4, 2021 at 6:25 pm

Thanks so much Rebecca, I remember doing this at school. What a fun project!❤️

November 5, 2021 at 10:18 am

I’m so glad you enjoyed Rebecca’s post Sue! 😊

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How to Make Your Own Papier-Mache Base Forms and Molds

Use simple items to create forms for your projects

Erin Patrice O'Brien / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Whether for a school project or fun activity with the kids, papier-mâché is one of those crafts that doesn't require any special supplies. The papier-mâché paste is a simple mixture of flour and water, and you can use many items found around your house to make molds and forms for your projects . It's a great way to recycle.

Some of these items can be used as bases for the papier-mâché object, while others can be used to add specific details to the project.

You likely have a few balloons stashed away somewhere in the house, leftover from a birthday party or other festive celebration. All sizes and shapes of balloons (and it doesn't matter what the color is) are great to use as bases of round designs such as heads and masks. A balloon is also a perfect base for a pinata.

Don't throw away that extra cardboard from a package, or recycle the food boxes just yet. Different types of cardboard work well—corrugated cardboard is great to create certain types of project bases, and lightweight cardboard, such as those from cereal boxes, works well when adding smaller details.

Chicken Wire

Not everyone has chicken wire lying around the house, but it is pretty easy to come by. Its flexibility, scale, and its ability to easily connect pieces make chicken wire ideal for crafting bases for large projects.

Besides being a key ingredient in the actual papier-mâché process, you can use the newspaper for creating details on your project. This works well to create shapes that are asymmetrical or somewhat awkward since you can twist and form the paper into whatever size and design you need. You can also roll it up to make an arm or leg, or crumple it up to make a ball for a part of your structure that is round.

Shoeboxes aren't just for dioramas when it comes to projects—they can be very useful when you need a sturdy base for papier-mâché. Or cover the box to create a special treasure box or decorative container to store special items or give as a gift.

Toilet Paper Rolls and Paper Towel Rolls

Easily forgotten and often tossed out, cardboard toilet paper and paper towel rolls are very useful in the craft room. When it comes to papier-mâché structures, they are great for adding details such as arms and legs.

Additional Items

There is no need to limit yourself to the items listed. You can use almost anything you have laying around your house for papier-mâché. Look around and start creating. Here are more ideas:

  • Aluminum pie pans
  • Bottles or jars
  • Cardboard ice cream containers
  • Detergent boxes
  • Egg cartons
  • Frozen juice cans
  • Juice boxes
  • Oatmeal containers
  • Plastic margarine bowls
  • Soda pop bottles
  • Styrofoam meat trays

Multiple Pieces

If you have multiple pieces to your structure's base, you will need to secure them to each other. Masking tape is great for holding all of the base pieces together while you apply the  papier-mâché .

More from The Spruce Crafts

  • 9 Fun and Easy Papier Mâché Projects
  • Learn How to Paper Mache
  • How to Make Papier-Mache Pulp
  • 10 Places to Get Cheap Craft Supplies
  • Ways to Make Your Own Pinata
  • The Best Paper Mache Recipes and Projects
  • How to Make Paper Flowers
  • What Is Papier Mâché?
  • How to Make a Paper Mache Mask
  • Paper Mache Tips and Hints
  • 12 Craft Projects for Boys
  • Recycled Toys Your Kids Can Make
  • How to Stamp Without Rubber Stamps
  • 12 DIY Lego Tables
  • How to Make a Paper Mache Globe
  • Egg Carton Paper Mache Pulp Recipe

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how to make a paper mache

Paper Mache


Introduction: Paper Mache

Paper Mache

Paper mache (or papier mache) is fun to do. It is also a very cheap way to be creative. You can make all sorts of interesting items using this process,  The pumpkin is for halloween and I formed a ball shape over plastic grocery bags.   The sun faces were moulded over an old salad bowl, and then painted.  The snake is a wire coat hanger coiled round and covered and painted.

Step 1: Mixing the Mix

Mixing the Mix

Here are the ingredients for the mixture. Old newspaper Flour, salt and luke warm water from your kitchen. and a mixing bowl (basic paste recipe - ratio of 1/2 cup of flour, large spoonful of salt to 1 cup of warm water) Put the flour and salt into the bowl and gradually add luke warm water and mix with your hands until you have a smooth paste that is neither lumpy or watery. It should be like a thick, creamy soup. If you line your bowl with an empty plastic grocery bag you will be able to contain the mess and throw the bag away when you are finished. By the way, the salt helps your finished creation from going mouldy inside.

Step 2: Newspapers Are Best

Newspapers Are Best

Newspapers are good for making the paper mache as the paper is more porous than other kinds of paper and bonds easily with the paste. You need to tear the paper up into manageable strips or pieces. Do not cut the paper, as the ragged edges of the torn paper meld with each other to make a smoother finish.

Step 3: Next


When you have mixed your paste and torn up your newspaper you are ready to begin. However, you must decide what you are going to make! I have made many different things and make "forms" out of wire hangers and plastic grocery bags, lavishly covered with masking tape to make adding the paper mache "mix" very easy. When I have my "form", this is when I start covering the whole thing with the paste and paper. You can apply the paste on a brush or a sponge, or with your fingers, until you have covered the surface of whatever form you have moulded with your paper. You will have to cover the form with at least three or four layers of paste and paper to make it nice and strong. You must also let the form dry before adding each additional coat. Be generous with the paste. Each strip of paper should be covered so they will all stick together. You can use all sorts of things for your basic form, for example blown up balloons, old tissue boxes, shoe boxes, wiffle balls - anything that is already the shape you want to make. For other forms use plastic grocery bags and masking tape and become a sculptor! In the picture you will see one of the loons (that I love to make) covered with several layers of paste and paper. Also a giant ice cream cone that was made for a church event. When moulding over something like a salad bowl you need to grease the surface of the bowl with vaseline first so that the paper mache is easier to remove in one piece when it is dry. When working on small items or tricky areas where parts join together, use narrow, short strips of your newspaper.

Step 4: Finishing Off and Painting

Finishing Off and Painting

When you are satisfied that you have added enough layers of paper mache to your form, and it is totally dry you can paint it or decorate in any way you want. Drying can vary according to the weather. In winter I place my completed paper mache form in the boiler cupboard.. When thoroughly dry you can actually sand paper the surface lightly to eliminate small uneven areas, but the surface has to be dry, or you will rip your creation to pieces. If your creation feels cool to your touch it needs to dry out more. In summer the form can be placed in the sun to dry. Be warned, do not leave it out overnight, as the smell of the flour can attract critters. I had the throat of one of my loons torn out one night by something or other - I am sure whatever it was did not appreciate the mouthful of newspaper and plastic grocery bag that it managed to get!

Step 5: Examples


Here are some of the things I have made in the past. These still lurk on top of my cupboards! The bell was made with paper mache over a large plastic flower pot which I then covered with coppery coloured material and became the bell that hung in the Alamo during Vacation Bible School! The armadillo started out as a cat, but went a bit wrong, so I changed it! For your first project I would suggest something round (like my pumpkin) as it is very easy to make.    . Whatever you decide to make the main thing is to have fun.

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11 years ago on Introduction

I really don't get how you put the newspaper and paste over the mold. Do you think you could make a video?


Reply 1 year ago

Just put the strip into the paste and run your fingers down the strip while holding one end to remove extra paste and apply to your mold in different directions until its covered let dry then do it again 2 or 3 times. Letting it dry in between layers

ana paula miranda

5 years ago

how can i do in paper mache a sculpture, i have it in plaster and i want to make same or similar in paper mache. I thought to do in 2 steps front and back because inside can not for sure be the plaster sculpture, and i dont know how to do sculptures of humans bodies faces etcc. You think if i do first half ,then second half , with what i feel each half after dry and out of the mold , and also how i put together just same more a bit of paper mache... sorry for the question but i my mold is in plaster a human sculpture, and i want to do from this in paper mache to dont use plaster . Help me please and thanks i follow u here.


7 years ago

Wow. Normally paper mache doesn't look so good to me but these look really well finished! Those loons look like something you'd buy in a gift shop


10 years ago

Nice job. I really want to do this but as for the mold, do u take the "form" out of the finished product? Please answer


11 years ago on Step 4


12 years ago on Step 2

Does this rot at some point, will it get ruined in heat? and more properties i should no about?


14 years ago on Introduction

Hail stinkymum! Queen of paper mache and crafts... just some of our paper mache fun...


Reply 13 years ago on Introduction

awesome stuff


Reply 14 years ago on Introduction

Wow! Now I have ideas for more projects. You are the King!


How did you make the form for the giant pepper? Are there any special supports on the inside?

The giant pepper has a wire coat hanger inside and then plastic grocery bags put over it.    I then bound it round with masking tape to get the right shape.   Otherwise it was just moulding it into shape by hand.


14 years ago on Step 5

The cactus man made me giggle. Really lovely job! The loons look good. Might want to add, if anyone hates the smell of the paste used for papier mache, you can add cinnamon oil (just a little) and it makes it smell really nice.


Nice instructable! For a play I directed for community theater we needed a big bowl. Not wanting to risk my big ceramic bowl, I covered it in Saran Wrap and paper mached it! And to help it dry, I set it in my oven, lowest setting, and left the oven door open a crack. As it was still winter, this helped heat the house for the hour or two that it was drying.

that's an idea.....


you did a fabulous job on that duck. The kids seem to really like that big pepper. LOL Now, I am inspired to try this. Beleive it or not, I make and sell handbuilt pottery and ceramics but I think this will be fun to try. You actually have more lee way with paper mache than with clay. For one thing, you can go big, big and nothing breaks during firing as it can when making handbuilt things in the kiln. Thanks.


Great Instructable. One time when I needed some large plaster chess pieces, I used 2 liter plastic bottles. I covered the bottles first with paper mache, then followed that up with a thin layer of wall patching plaster. I was able to sand the wall plaster really smooth. Then I followed that up with gold and silver paint. It made a chess piece that was a lot lighter than one that was solid plaster. I did not have to use as much plaster either. NMF

Desert Moon

This is great. Thanks much. Really liked it. Will be doing this with the grandkids.


thank-you soo much...this was very helpful! I did some paper mache in my art class and I really liked it, its a fun thing to do when your bored or just feel like doing something with newspapers and plastic bags that just keep piling up. Its also a good way to save money on decorations for holidays, I made some for Christmas and Halloween and put them on my window sill. Thanks again!

Earthy Eric

Nice instructable, cool ideas. I'm still working on mine, hopefully I'll get it posted by the end of the week..

The Curiously Creative

The Ultimate Guide to Paper Mache for Beginners

Are you interested in learning how to make paper mache? Paper mache is a craft that you may think of in a time of creative inspiration.

The concept of paper mache has been around for longer than paper creation. Despite its age, it has stayed strong in the crafting world throughout history. Paper mache has since been established as effective but easy to utilize.

This craft may seem overwhelming to those who have not had any experience with paper mache before.

Thankfully, everything down to the mixture you will use is things found in everyday life. Let’s get to everything that you need to know about paper mache.

What is Paper Mache?

The history of paper mache, paper mache in modern times, what supplies do i need for paper mache, how to create paper mache art, tips for paper mache art, paper mache video tutorials.

Paper mache, or papier mâché (“chewed paper” in French), is a method of art that involves paper and a paste that the artist creates.

What is Paper Mache

This paste is made of easy-to-find ingredients that you may already have in your house, saving you a trip to the craft store!

The paper you have will be torn into strips and then coated in the mixture you make before being put onto a surface of your choice. Surfaces can consist of things such as balloons, bowls, or vases.

The paper you use that is saturated in the paste will harden as it dries, becoming a light but durable material.

Once it has dried, the paper mache will be strong enough to hold what it needs to hold but will break if put under enough pressure.

Paper mache as we know it today is thought to have originated from China, where paper itself was first invented.

History of Paper Mache

These first instances of paper mache were likely for helmets. While paper mache is not strong enough to save you from any of today’s weapons, it does show how highly they valued this material.

While China has the first known instance of paper mache as we know it today, if you look further back in history, you will see a close relative that can be found dating back to Ancient Egypt.

Ancient Egyptians would coat pieces of papyrus or linen into the plaster to create objects for funerals. Coffins and Egyptian death masks would be crafted from this paper mache version.

Perfect Hobby For You:

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Paper mache is a popular crafting method even in the modern era, but it has also been known to be used for practical uses.

It was not that far back in history that paper mache was being used for fuel tanks and canoes.

While this practice has not necessarily continued into modern day as we know it, it was less than 100 years ago that the craft was being utilized for these items.

Today, it is much more common to see paper mache used to make objects such as pinatas and parade floats. You also may see artists using paper mache to create figures, jewelry, and more.

how to make a paper mache

Paper mache can be incorporated into whatever craft you are interested in.

If you are into fairy gardens ,  you can make a paper mache piece for an indoor terrarium.

Artists globally produce their own impressive works of art with paper mache, with a portion of these artists making their profession solely in paper mache.

If you are a crafter who would prefer a more hands-on method with your craft, consider paper mache a great candidate.

Paper Mache Supplies

Flour or Glue

Base of choice.

When you are gathering materials for your paper mache project, paper will be the absolute necessity.

Feel free to upcycle any old newspaper or magazines and use their pages as the strips of paper for your paper mache project.

This is a great way to be more environmentally friendly while also saving yourself money.

If you did not have anything spare lying around, Amazon offers over five pounds of blank newspaper for your crafting needs.

Water is one of the next priority materials for paper mache. Water will be your friend, as it is a significant ingredient in your paste.

Without any moisture, there wouldn’t be a paste after all. It does not have to be any particular kind of water; simple tap water would be sufficient.

While there is a way to also do paper mache using glue as the base, flour is a more available product for this craft.

Just as water was a significant ingredient for the paste, flour is the next ingredient.

The dry powder of the flour will mix with the water to slowly create a paste with a consistency based on your personal preference. 

If you are using glue, the glue will mix with the water just as the flour does.

Your paste will need something to be mixed in. You will need a container that will be large enough for you to easily coat strips of paper in, as well as holding the paste mixture itself.

Salt is recommended by some paper mache artists to be added to your paste for its antifungal elements.

However, it isn’t a miracle worker, and you will still want to take extra precautions to prevent mold.

While the whisk is not a necessity in your paper mache experience, it will certainly ease the way.

The whisk will help to mix your paste together, breaking away any dry clumps to give you a smooth mix.

The bases you can use are endless, but one great beginner’s item is balloons.

You can apply your moist strips to the balloon to form your project’s shape. When it is dried, you can pop the balloon to remove it easily.

Another option is to use these masks to create paper mache masks that can be used as decorative items.

How to Create Paper Mache Art

  • Gather your materials and prepare your crafting area.  Make sure all your materials are within reach. You also want to be sure to protect your environment, so prepare your crafting area ahead of time.
  • Combine flour/glue and water into the bowl and mix until desired consistency.  When you begin to make your paper mache mixture, you will combine your two ingredients in a bowl until it reaches the desired consistency. If the mixture is thick, you add water. If the mixture is thin, you add flour or glue.
  • Add some salt if you want. While not a necessary step in this procedure, if you add salt to your mixture, you will help keep your work free of any potential mold while it is drying.
  • Whisk until smooth. When you combine these elements together, you will want to mix it until there are no dry lumps. This is a very similar situation to stirring some batter.
  • Cover your paper in the mixture of flour and water. When your mix is to your liking, this is when you will begin creating with it. You will grab strips of paper one at a time and saturate them with your mixture.
  • Ensure no excess mixture is on the paper by using your fingers to wipe the strip.  While you want your strip of paper to be saturated enough to stick to your project, you do not want it to be so soaked that it dries slower. Because of this, you can take off any excess by brushing down with the paper strip in between two of your fingers.
  • Place the paper over whatever base you have chosen.  If you have selected a balloon, this is where you will keep your balloon steady and begin applying the strips. However, if you’re using a bowl or something else, you will want to apply a nonstick element to your bowl before adding the paper mache.
  • Cover the surface as much as you wish.  Whether you are creating a bowl and thus only utilizing half of the balloon or if you’re making something different that requires the whole balloon, it is entirely up to you.
  •  Let dry before beginning a second layer, or you may risk mold.  If you are going to apply more than one layer of paper mache, waiting for the previous layer to dry before adding another is the best idea. Even with the salt element, you do not want to risk mold from over-saturation.
  • Apply as many layers as you wish.  While you have to wait for each layer to dry, apply as many layers as you want if you have the patience!
  • Allow it to dry.  Finally, when you have added all the layers your heart desired, it is time for you to wait for it to dry completely.
  • Remove your base.  If you were using a balloon, this is where you can simply pop the balloon. If you were using the bowl, this is where you will be thankful that you used a nonstick agent, as the bowl will be much easier to remove than if you hadn’t.
  • Decorate as you please!  If you plan on coloring your paper mache masterpiece, it is best to use  acrylic paints !  There are also many more decorating ideas to truly customize your project.

Place the Paper Mache Strips In As Many Ways As Possible

If you place every paper mache strip in the same direction, you will have a fragile piece when your project dries. Instead, try to apply your strips of paper to create a strong base in as many directions as possible.

Do Not Paint Until Project is Dry

In the same light as not applying another layer of paper mache until the first layer is dry.

You will not want to paint before your project is completely dried. This increases the chances of mold, which can entirely ruin your work.

You Can Add Aromatherapy Scents

If you do not like the smell of your flour and water mixture, you can also feel free to add aromatherapy scents to your mix.

Be Prepared to Be Patient

When you are doing paper mache, you need to be patient. With how much dry time is involved and how crucial dry time is, you will be spending a lot of time waiting to move onto the next step in your project.

You may want to consider a different craft if you are all for instant gratification.

Paper mache is a craft that has grown with humanity, from its ancestry in Egypt to its origination in China.

The materials you need to craft with paper mache are accessible and may already be things you have in your home.

There are so many potential projects for you to test your new crafting skill and a world full of information waiting to be learned. Whatever your reason for learning paper mache may be, the path ahead will be adventurous.

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