In middle school, using papier-mâché in art class seemed like an exclusive right for eighth-graders. In seventh and sixth grade, you just had to stare at the upper-class creations in awe. Even if the assignment was just papier-mâché face masks, it felt literally next-level compared to the pastels and watercolors you were relegated to in your early years as a middle-schooler. But you know what? Now you can play with papier-mâché whenever you want — you’re an adult! And, even better, you have a valid excuse to break it out anytime if you’re a parent. It’s a fantastic craft to keep kids busy. So, the only thing standing between you and paper-mache-sculpting glory is a solid papier-mâché recipe.
Which begs the question, what is papier-mâché? Well, here’s an interesting fact: It has a historical past. In the 18th century, those in Europe reportedly used papier-mâché as a cheap alternative to plaster and carved wood in furniture (it was just the style back then). These days, people often search for a papier-mâché recipe to make a cool mask or an intriguing sculpture. It’s definitely an excellent way to reuse paper and turn it into something fun.
Are you worried that you might not be crafty enough to make it? Fear not, our fellow non-crafty mamas! It’s actually easy to create at home. Most papier-mâché recipes are pretty basic, using paper and paste. Even newspaper is fine — and quite common — to use in a papier-mâché recipe. We’ll walk you through all the details. So, consider this your papier-mâché for beginners class. Bonus? Once you learn how to make this mixture, you’ll become a master in no time.
The Best Papier-Mâché Recipe for Home
Papier-mâché with flour is very common for beginners. And since most people have a bag of flour at home, it won’t involve any unnecessary trips to Michael’s. For the paste, you’ll need:
- One cup of flour
- Two cups of water
- A spoon
- Containers to hold your concoction
- A microwave
Heating the paste is essential in producing papier-mâché with flour. Remember, sometimes heat can be your best ingredient.
You can also use a stovetop if you don’t have a microwave handy. But you have to make sure your flour mixture is constantly moving, so it’s not as convenient. You’ll want to heat it in the microwave for just about 30 seconds, making sure it’s stirred correctly beforehand. Ultimately, you’re looking for a thick, glue-like consistency without lumps. Pro pointer: Add salt to the mixture once you reach this stage to help prevent mold.
Next, smooth your paste over newspaper or newspaper strips. Typically, you want to do this on a surface that can be removed — balloons are a very popular choice. Once the newspaper strips are coated, you can either let them dry and take the form of whatever they’re on (like the balloon) or mold them into whatever you’d like.
Uses for Papier-Mâché Recipe
With a good mixture and a little imagination, you can make all sorts of things with papier-mâché. You could create small boxes for jewelry. That’d be a nice crafty gift to make someone, right? You can also make sculptures, DIY pinatas, and other crafts with papier-mâché. You only need to wait for it to dry completely.
Once you feel like a papier-mâché pro, you might also try to use it in your child’s science project. You may even be curious about how to make a papier-mâché volcano, a popular science fair winner. Well, keep reading!
Is Glue or Flour Better for Paper Mache?
The answer is glue! Although flour is a common household item, you won’t have to worry about your papier-mâché creation molding when using glue. Glue also dries clear, which provides a better base for painting your project after it dries. Flour dries white and is sometimes a little difficult to paint over.
Steps to Make a Papier-Mâché Volcano
A papier-mâché volcano includes a few additional props. Now that you have your paste and newspapers ready, you’ll need to gather two equal circles of cardboard (it can change based on the size of your volcano) and a small container. A used spice container would work perfectly for this craft. Using a hot glue gun, you’ll want to glue the container onto a piece of cardboard, right in the center. This will serve as the opening of your papier-mâché volcano.
The newspaper — or packing paper — will create the outside of the volcano. Scrunch some of the sheets around the center tube to make it look like a volcano. It should appear narrow at the top and wider at the bottom. That’s not the only time you’ll be using newspaper, though. You’ll also need to cut rectangular sheets of it to paste over the volcano exterior. Ensure all of it is covered and painted with your papier-mâché flour paste, being careful not to cover the top of your lava container.
After resting overnight, you can paint your volcano. Use browns and reds to make your papier-mâché volcano look realistic. Most papier-mâché volcanoes don’t last a second eruption, so you may want to make multiples.
The Difference With Papier-Mâché Clay
Have you heard about papier-mâché clay? Papier-mâché clay is its own project, as it requires a host of different products. The paper used is toilet paper, and you’ll also need linseed oil, wood glue, flour, a clay product, and more. As such, this project is a bit more complex and probably not the best version for beginners.
But whip up the classic papier-mâché recipe above a few times, get used to working with the mixture, and you’ll be ready to move on to papier-mâché clay before you know it.
Will Flour Papier-Mâché Mold?
Papier-Mâché is wet and made of flour, so yes, it can become moldy. However, there are several ways to keep your art fresh and free of rot.
- Make sure you add about a tablespoon of salt to the papier-mâché mix. This will help prevent it from molding.
- Try to squeeze all the excess water out of the papier-mâché pulp before making your sculpture.
- When done sculpting, place it in an oven at 200 degrees or near a radiator. This will suck out the moisture.
- Make sure the sculpture is dry before adding any paint. If it’s still wet, it’ll mold from the inside out.
How to Seal Papier-Mâché
After you’ve crafted your beautiful sculpture, you want to make sure your design is sealed, so it maintains its color and shape. When making your papier-mâché, always tear the newspaper into strips instead of cutting them. This helps the art seal better. But if you’re looking to turn your project into a permanent part of your home, you can use varnish or acrylic sealing spray. Use this after you’ve painted it.
History of Papier-Mâché
Papier-mâché first developed in China during the Han Dynasty around BCE 202. Instead of cutesy crafts, soldiers used it to make helmets. Eventually, the papier-mâché process traveled to Japan and Persia. Persia used this method for festive purposes like making masks or decorations. It didn’t reach France until the 17th century. The words papier-mâché means “chewed paper” or “pulped paper.”
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