Paper Mache Tips and Hints

Craft Essentials

Paper Mache Balloon
Erin Patrice O'Brien/The Image Bank/Getty Images

Make your next paper mache project more successful using these tips and hints. If you have a great paper mache tip, take a moment to share it with us and it could be posted here.

Paper Mache Tips

  • Paper mache is a very messy craft! Prepare by covering your work surface. Even better, do it outside if weather permits. Make sure you cover yourself also!
  • Some creations can take several days to finish, so remind kids that they have to be patient! Sometimes you will have to work for a little time each day, adding new layers to your project.
  • Make sure your paper mache project is completely dry before you paint and decorate it.
  • Always tear your newspaper into strips instead of cutting them. The torn paper lays better on a paper mache creation.
  • To help your creation last longer, seal it with varnish or acrylic sealing spray when you're done painting it.
  • For a natural look, use brown paper towels for the final layer of your creation.
  • When you lay the newspaper strips onto your paper mache project, place the strips in as many different directions as possible. It  will make your finished project stronger.
  • If you live in a humid climate, assemble you paper mache project using glue rather than a flour and water mixture or try using a little less water in your recipe.
  • When working with a round object, set it on top of a bowl or large-mouthed cup while you are working so it sits still.
  • To remove the base from inside your dried project, make a slit at the back and take out the material (If it's a balloon, you can simply pop it.). Cover the slit with another layer of paper mache and let it dry.
  • If you don't like the smell of your flour and water mixture, try adding a touch of cinnamon to sweeten it up.
  • Use acrylic paints for painting dried projects.
  • Base material ideas: Balloons; aluminum foil (crumple it shape as needed); chicken wire (mold it as needed; usually used for large science projects a volcano); crumpled newspaper (use masking tape to hold it in place for basic shapes); small cardboard boxes (for square or rectangular creations).
  • Tip from Anna:

"I used your method to boil newspaper pieces in boiling water in order to make paper mache pulp. The method worked. However, the pot that I used was smeared in newspaper ink on the sides. I tried soap, baking soda, vinegar and finally came upon a solution that quickly removed the ink: vegetable oil. I used the oil and a paper towel & was able to quickly remove the residue in the pot. I thought it would be helpful to include this remedy in your article for those of us who end up with dirty pots."

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