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Paper Mache- Pre-made and Making Your Own

Paper mache (papier-mâché in French) is material consisting of paper/pulp combined with a glue/paste.  There are several different recipes for the paste and pulp used in paper mache. Paper mache paste mix can be purchased, or made with starch, flour & water, or a mixture of wood glue and water.

How to Paper Mache

  • Find a base -- you can use masking tape and cardboard to create almost any shape. You can also use chicken wire, or anything already the shape you want such as a basket, bowl, or box. Balloons are popular if you want a hollow item. Just pop it when the paper mache is dry. 
  • Make your paste -- Buy a pre-made paste and follow the instructions, or mix 1 part water with your glue or starch.
  • Tear newspaper into strips; strips should be 1"-2" wide, and the length will depend on the size of your project. Torn strips will lay smoother than cut strips.
  • Dip one strip at a time into the paste.  Strips should be completely covered.  Be generous!
  • Stick the strip over the form that you are working with, smoothing it with your fingers.
  • Completely cover your form/base, and let it dry (this can take up to 24 hours).  If you use Activa Fast Mache, you will significantly reduce the drying time.
  • Add a second layer of strips for strength.
  • Repeat until you get the effect you are looking for, usually three or more layers.
  • Paint and decorate!


Pre-made Paper Mache Items

  • Darice  and PA Essentials make a wide variety of paper mached objects, which can be painted, decoupaged, or embellished.
  • They come in a cardboard brown color, and are easier to paint over than the traditional newspaper used in paper mache.
  • Paper Mache boxes can be purchased and decorated for storage of dry items like jewelry


Brands with Paper Mache Products

Project Ideas and Inspiration

  • Ornaments -- wrap around a styrofoam ball, or purchase a premade one
  • Boxes -- buy a pre-made one, or paper mache over a cardboard box.
  • Letters -- build the letter using cardboard and masking tape, or buy one and decorate!
  • Piñatas -- use a balloon for the part that holds the candy and pop it when the paper mache is dry. You can also use an empty box.
  • Jewelry -- buy a pre-made shape and decorate. You can also make beads.
  • Bowls -- you can use a bowl you already have, and remove it after it's dry.
  • Masks -- buy a cheap plastic one, paper mache over it, and make your own painted design.
  • Jewelry boxes -- you can get them pre-made or decorate your own.
  • Volcanoes -- build it around chicken wire, and fill with baking soda and vinegar for a fun science lesson.

Projects Using Paper Mache

Kids Crafts: Paper Mache

Old-Fashioned Angel Tree Topper

Christmas Tree Stocking Holders

Cute as a Button Pumpkin Picture

Raffia Monogram

Christmas Tree Stocking Holders  Old-Fashioned Angel Tree Topper

For more project ideas, visit!


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