What’s hard as a rock, light as a feather, made from something you throw away every day, and will last for many years?
It might sound impossible, but it’s not. The answer is papier-mâché!
Papier-mâché has a fancy French name, but it’s actually just ordinary newspaper mixed with an easy-to-make paste. It’s fun to make, easy to mold, and easy to turn into all sorts of things.
When wet, papier-mâché is easily shaped. When dry, it is hard and strong and can be painted.
Strip papier-mâché is made by tearing newspaper into long strips, about 1.5 inch wide. The length of the strips depends on the size and shape of the object you’re making. To cover the strips with papier-mâché paste (recipes ahead), pull them through the paste. Get rid of excess by running the strips through pinched fingers or just pull them out against the container.
To cover an object with papier-mâché, paste a layer of strips on it running in one direction. Then paste another layer on it in the other direction. Continue this way until you have pasted on at least four or more layers.
Warning: I haven’t tried out this recipe yet.
Fill a large pail half full with 1-inch square pieces of newspaper. Fill the pail with warm water and let it soak overnight. Then mix the paper and water with an electric beater. Squeeze out the water and place the pulp in a large container. Finally, squeeze papier-mâché paste into the pulp until the mixture feels like clay.
Here are two recipes for papier-mâché paste.
- Stir three parts water with one part flour until the mixture is smooth and creamy. (Add a little extra flour if it’s too watery). This paste will dry out if left for too long, so use all of it quickly.
- Mix two parts white glue and one part warm water. Stir well and the paste is ready to use. (This paste is, in my experience, the best).
To dry things made of papier-mâché leave them in an open space for two or more days. If the object is covered completely, hang it somewhere by a strong piece of yarn and put newspaper beneath it in case any paste drips down.
You can also dry things more quickly with a hair dryer but it takes a lot of work and patience. The smaller the item, the quicker you can dry it. Papier-mâché dries faster on a hot day or under a fan.
Posts with ideas for papier-mâché crafts coming up!
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