Paper mâché arts allow us to create unique sculptures with supplies around the house. It’s a go-to craft for school projects and parents trying to keep their kids occupied, but not often celebrated as the impressive art it is.
Paper mâché is easy to do at home. All you need is old paper and paste to build your sculptures.
But paper mâché paste isn’t like standard paste. It’s something you can make at home with items from your pantry.
The internet abounds with paper mâché recipes, but some are far easier than others. Here are the easiest paper mâché recipes you can make with ingredients you have at home.
The Easiest Paper Mâché Paste Recipe
The only thing you need to make paper mâché paste is flour. The pantry staple is a crucial ingredient in the easiest paper mâché recipe.
The recipe calls for one part flour and two parts water. That is, if you use two cups of water, you’ll use one cup of flour. You can make as much or as little paper mâché paste as you’d like following the two-to-one ratio.
Photo credit: Canva.com.
Place your water in a mixing bowl, then slowly add the flour while stirring. Stop adding flour to smooth out any bumps along the way and ensure the flour all dissolves. Once you add all the flour to the bowl, keep mixing to ensure a smooth liquid.
That’s all it takes to make paper mâché paste!
More Paper Mâché Recipes
Two additional paper mâché recipes are almost as easy. Decide which works best for the paper mâché crafts you want to create.
Hot Water and Flour
The cold flour/water paper mâché recipe isn’t the only way to make paper mâché paste. You can boil the water and use a little less flour for a smoother, more translucent paste. You’ll use an approximately 5 to 1 ratio of flour and water for this paper mache paste, which means you’d use ¼ cup flour for every 1 and ¼ cups water.
Mix your flour into ¼ cup of cool or room temperature water, and boil the remaining cup of water. Once it’s hot, slowly stir in your water/flour mixture.
You want to mix the flour into room-temperature water to avoid clumping. Putting the flour directly into hot water would immediately clump up and cook before you could even it out with a fork or whisk. It’s easier to dissolve flour in cool water.
Glue and Water
You can also make paper mâché paste without flour. Use Elmer’s glue instead to avoid the powdery mess flour leaves behind.
This paper mâché recipe calls for a 4 to 3 ratio of water and glue. Use a full cup of water and ¾ cup of glue. All you have to do is mix them.
Many people don’t have bottles of glue lying around the house, so this recipe may not be ideal unless you’re constantly crafting. Glue may be cheap, but if you want a quick craft project from things you already have at home, this paper mâché recipe may not work.
How Do You Make Paper Mâché?
A good Paper mâché recipe includes more than just the paste.
To make something with paper mâché, you’ll also need paper (old newspapers work best, traditional paper and craft papers may not absorb the paste as well) and something to use as a mold.
Once you’re done mixing your paper mâché paste, pour it into a larger bowl or dish that’s easier to use than a mixing bowl.
I like to use a glass casserole dish, as the long, rectangular shape makes it easy to lay newspaper strips without bunching them up.
Next, rip up strips of paper. Place them in the paper mâché paste, allowing them to become saturated. Dip both sides in the paste, or press the strips until fully submerged.
When the strip is completely saturated with paste, take it out and lay it on your mold. Repeat this process until your mold is completely covered with paper mâché strips.
Making Your Strips
Ripping is the most straightforward way to make paper mâché strips. Newspaper tears easily, so you can simply rip the old papers into the size strips you want.
For more uniform strips, you can measure and cut with scissors. Scissors are also ideal if you use thicker paper that’s harder to tear.
How Long Does Paper Mâché Take to Dry?
Once your mold is complete, you’ll have to wait for the paper mâché to dry before doing anything else.
For best results, leave it alone and allow it to dry on its own. Expect most projects to take about 24 hours to dry completely. Results may vary based on factors such as room temperature, humidity, and the number of paper mâché layers in the project.
Use a hair dryer if you need the paper mâché to dry quickly. Use a lower setting and evenly run the hair dryer over the entire piece until it dries completely.
Best Paper Mâché Molds
Making anything with paper mâché is difficult if you don’t have something to stick it on. For best results with paper mâché, you need to use a mold.
The good news is that you likely have something lying around the house. Consider what you want to make with your paper mâché, and use something with a similar shape.
Balloons make ideal molds because you can blow them up to whatever size you need, and the round shape allows you to create various items, like masks and decorations. You can also simply pop the balloon when dry to have only paper mâché.
Other items can be used as well. For cylinders, use toilet paper or paper towel rolls. Consider cutting stars, circles, or other unique shapes from old cardboard boxes. Use empty water bottles, pop cans, cereal boxes, egg cartons, and coffee cans.
Be careful only to use items you don’t need. Often, the mold will become part of the paper mâché project, and you won’t get it back.
Sometimes, you can cut the paper mâché off the mold, but the paper mâché paste, made from water and flour, will likely damage it.
Don’t use items you want to keep as your paper mâché mold.
You Don’t Always Need a Mold
You’ll learn that you don’t necessarily need a mold when you get good at paper mâché. Sometimes, you can start with a little bunched-up paper and use the paper mâché to create your shapes.
This method creates paper mâché bunnies, kittens, and other monsters.
Paper Mâché Ideas
The only limitation to what you can make with paper mâché is your imagination.
People use the craft to create decorations for every holiday, including Halloween masks, Christmas ornaments, Thanksgiving centerpieces, and more.
Designers use paper mâché to craft cosplay, make weapon replicas, or even design puppets, while artists use it to add texture to their works. A few strips of paper mâché can change the entire structure of a painting. It’s also a fantastic medium for collage.
Paper mâché is perfect for parties. It’s the ideal way to craft a homemade pinata filled with candy and create unique decorations based on the event’s theme.
Students rely on paper mâché for school projects. Use it to make your volcano science fair project or as a base for art projects.
The possibilities are endless.
How To Decorate Paper Mâché
When your paper mâché craft dries, you can start decorating it.
For best results, use acrylic craft paint. These paints are designed for all types of crafts, including paper mâché. They go on smooth and dry quickly, allowing you to add new color layers.
You can still blend acrylic colors to get the perfect shade, but you must work quickly. Mix the paint on the pallet for the correct shade before applying it for the best results.
Although oil paints are best for blending, they don’t work as well for paper mâché projects, as the paper absorbs the oils. Watercolor is too runny for paper mâché in general. You will need a lot of pigment to cover the lettering on the newspaper if you opt for watercolor.
Of course, the limitations of watercolor and oil don’t apply if you’re using paper mâché in a work of fine art. In these instances, you may want the lettering of the old newspaper to stand out under the color, in which case watercolor and a light layer of oil may work fine.
After the paint dries, you can decorate your paper mâché project with glitter, stickers, beads, yarn, or anything else you have on hand.
Get To Crafting with Paper Mâché
Paper mâché is one of the easiest craft projects to do at home. You likely already have everything you need lying around the house, so why not try it?
The only limit to what you can make is your imagination.
Melanie Allen is an American journalist and happiness expert. She has bylines on MSN, the AP News Wire, Wealth of Geeks, Media Decision, and numerous media outlets across the nation. She covers a wide range of topics centered around self-actualization and the quest for a fulfilling life.