You can make a lot of different items with paper mache. Not only will you recycle, but it is very easy and inexpensive.
Tips and Hints
Make your project more successful using these tips and hints.
Paper mache is a very messy craft! Make sure to cover your work surface, or you can even do it outside if weather permits. Make sure you cover yourself also!
Some creations can take several days to finish, so be prepared and be patient! Sometimes you will have to work for a little time every day adding new layers to your project.
You want to give your creation plenty of time to dry before you paint and decorate it.
Always tear your newspaper into strips instead of cutting them. For some reason the torn paper lays better on paper mache creations.
To help your creation last longer, seal it with varnish or acrylic sealing spray when you are done painting it.
For a natural look, use brown paper towels for the final layer of your creation.
If you want new Christmas ornaments, the easiest way is to use balloons. Simply blow them up to the size you want. Starting with this project will also let you know right away if you want to get into more complicated ones.
I am first going to give you the recipe (if you want to call it that) for making the glue base. I use a white glue and mix it approximately 50-50 with water. Depending on how large your project is, will determine the amount of glue you will need. If there isn’t quite enough, you can easily mix more.
Take your paper, newspaper, wrapping paper, tissue paper or what ever you have decided to use; tear it into strips. You can cut into strips if you wish, but it is a better result if you don’t do that.
Now that you have blown up your balloons and tied them off, take a strip of paper and run it through the glue. You want it wet, but not soaking. Use your fingers to strip off the excess glue form the paper. I hope you are understanding what I am trying to explain. Harder to put in writing that to actually show you, so please bear with me.
Lay the strip of paper over the balloon and gently press it into place. I say gently, you don’t want to pop your balloon. Cover the entire surface, overlapping the paper. Do not cover up the knot; just stay a little away from it. Now let this dry, when it is dry then do another layer. You want to do probably no more than 4 layers on each balloon.
You can hang them to dry, simply put them on a line of some sort with a clothespin. Or stick an opened paper clip through the top of the balloon (above the knot) and hang them up. Sometimes it is easier to leave them hanging between layers and just add to them, do whatever is the best and easiest for you.
Now that they are dry, the fun begins. Pop your balloons!! You do not have to remove the balloons, let them shrivel up inside no one will be the wiser. Don’t throw away the paperclips, you will still use them.
Place the paperclips back in the hole on top. This gives you something to hang onto. Now, you want to decorate, using any paint and paint color, preferably enamel, this makes them shiny; cover the entire surface and let dry. Hang them back on your line.
Decorating your ornaments can be as simple or as complicated as you desire. Use ribbon, beads, ric-rac, etc. Glue on your decorations using the same white glue, since it dries clear you don’t have to be perfect. For glitter use a spray adhesive, available at any craft store. For large objects such as large beads or glass pieces, I recommend a glue gun. You can even use Christmas wrapping paper for the outer layer.
The important thing is to be creative and have fun with your project. Imagine how beautiful your Christmas tree will be or think about giving some of them away as gifts. It would be a nice present, you made it yourself. People like to receive homemade gifts. I gave some to my Daughter-in-Law and she loves them. So be proud to say “I made them”.
Now on to bigger and better things. Still on the Christmas ornament, you can do basically the same idea using round balls. The difference here is you have to let them dry, cut around the ball and then paper mache them back together. Either way that suits you is the way you should do it.
Let us now make a bowl, use a bowl that you have and cover it first with plastic wrap. Using the same method, layer your paper (about 4 maybe 5 layers for this one. Remove it from your bowl after it is dry and decorate!! After decorating, spray with a clear sealer to protect it. Do not try to use this bowl for food.
A different approach to paper mache is to use scraps of fabric instead of paper. Yes, you can! I have done it. You can make the bowl with fabric. Cut approximate 2″ squares of different or corresponding colors. Place the first layer right side down and cover completely. Let dry and do a second layer with the right side up, be sure to cover completely. When dry, remove your bowl and decorate the edges with ribbon, ric-rac or beads. Complete the project with a clear sealer. Use the bowl on your table for napkins. Do not use with food.
You can make a lovely vase for use with artificial flowers. Go to your local thrift shop and pick up one of the glass vases that most florists use, may cost you a dollar. If you have one on hand that you haven’t donated or thrown away, all the better.
This requires putting on the layers of paper mache and then cutting it in half to remove your glass vase. But as I told you in using the ball, it’s really easy. After you have reassembled your vase, decorate it. You could just paint it, but be more creative and use pretty tissue paper or fabric scraps to cover it with. Add ribbon or beads or whatever suits your fancy or personality.
You can create jewelry with paper mache. Make your beads by cutting the paper or fabric into squares or triangle. Roll over straws, the best kind are the little straws that are used in nightclubs. That way the holes aren’t too big. Just let dry and use a spray sealer. String and wear to match any outfit. Makes great gifts as well.
Create Forms for Your Paper Mache Projects
One of the nice things about paper mache is you do not need any special supplies! You can use many items found around your house to make molds and forms for your paper mache projects. Check out this list and start creating!
You can create forms for your paper mache projects easily. Some can be used as bases for the projects, while others can be used to add specific details.Balloons – All sizes and shapes are great for bases to rounded designs.
Cardboard – Corrugated cardboard is great for bases of projects; and lightweight cardboard, like from cereal boxes, works well for details.
Chicken Wire – Use this as a base for large projects.
Masking Tape – Great for holding all the other things together while you apply the paper mache.
Newspaper – Besides being a key ingredient in holding your paper mache creation together, you can use it for creating details. Try rolling it to make an arm or leg, or crumple it up to make smaller parts!
Shoe Boxes – Cover with paper mache to make a fancy box, or use as a base for a bigger project.
Toilet Tissue and Paper Towel Rolls – Great for adding details like arms and legs.
Have I got you thinking yet? How about creating a masterpiece using one of these items!
- Aluminum Pie Pans
- Blown Eggs
- Bottles or Jars
- Cardboard Ice Cream Containers
- Detergent Boxes
- Egg Cartons
- Frozen Juice Cans
- Juice Boxes
- Oatmeal Containers
- Paper Cup
- Plastic Margarine Bowls
- Soda Pop Bottles
- Styrofoam Meat Trays
- Tin Foil
Here is a good substitute for the white glue mixture.
NOTE: Humidity really does play a factor! If you live somewhere very humid, add less water (up to 1/4 less). I live in a very dry area.
NOTE: if you add a couple tablespoons of salt to your paper mache it will not mold.
Cover your project with no more than 4 layers of paper mache. I always tell the kids 2 layers as they ALWAYS overlap more than they should.
Let dry COMPLETELY.
I hope you enjoyed at least reading about the projects here and are willing to try this fun and very cheap to make craft.