Paper Mache

You can make so many things with paper mache! When I was a kid, I would blow up balloons and cover them with newspaper strips that were dipped in a mixture of flour and water. That's was the extent of my experience.

That all changed a few years ago. We needed an art medium to build a 12 foot jungle tree. After exploring many different mediums, we decided to use paper mache. This was our first big project, and we were so excited when we saw how easy it was.

Our imagination went wild with ideas. We had discovered that we could build almost any unique interior surface with paper mache. We were no longer confined to straight lines and angles. We could make things soft and curvy. We could make any shape we could imagine. We have fallen in love with paper mache!

Paper Mache for Kids

This is a super fun medium for kids to use. Kids love to get their hands gooey and create something 3D. Here are some paper mache projects you can do with your kids. 

  • Covering a balloon is a great first project. 
  • Learn about the planets and make different size planets.
  • Learn about the different continents and make a model of the earth. Paint the continents on your paper mache globe.
  • Make a transparent lamp shade and put an LED light in it.
  • Create a simple animal shape out of balloons or other objects. 
  • Construct your own aquarium by making sea creatures and seaweed. Use a fishing line to hang them from the ceiling.

Paper Mache Projects

Once your children get used to working with paper mache, they might want to take on a more challenging project.

Our little girls love playing with Lalaloopsies, but none of the Lalaloopsy dollhouses are big enough for all the furniture they are building. They wanted a Lalaloopsy mansion. We created a Lalaloopsy mansion out of boxes and laundry soap containers. We covered it with paper mache.

Even though it was a bit challenging to paper mache the inside of the rooms, the girls were very interested in finishing the project. They worked hard getting the shop towels all gooey and putting them on their new dollhouse. They also did all of the cleanup. Having a challenging project is good of kids.

How to Paper Mache

  1. Make a shape, any shape. You can make a base structure out most things. You can use wood and wire structures, balloons, boxes, or anything else that has a shape. 
  2. The paper mache will not stick to some surfaces. Wire structures need to be covered with masking tape.  Paper mache sticks to wood, cardboard, and balloons. 
  3. Follow one of the paper mache recipes below, or use another recipe of your choice.
  4. You'll need some kind of paper. You can use almost any kind of paper: newspaper, butcher paper, shop towels, paper towels, color paper, tissue paper, etc. Your technique in applying the paper will depend on which paper you're using. Thinner papers need to be handled with care because they easily tear and rip.
  5. If you're putting paper mache on a small surface, use small pieces of paper. If you're covering a large surface, use large paper towels or sheets of paper.
  6. Dip the paper in the gooey mixture. Smooth the paper over the structure. 
  7. Continue to apply paper to the structure while overlapping the pieces of paper. When you have completely covered the structure, let it dry. Each layer of paper mache is about two to three papers thick. 
  8. Apply a second layer of paper mache. Let it dry.
  9. Continue applying layers of paper mache until your structure is sturdy. 
  10. Optional: add texture to your paper mache project.
  11. Paint your dry hardened structure. If you used colored paper, there is no need to paint your project. Colored paper can be used to make a beautiful design

Paper Mache Recipes

Heavy Duty Paper Mache

If you want something to be super sturdy and last for a long time, use this mixture.

  • One Part Elmer's Glue-All
  • Two Parts Drywall Joint Compound
  • Enough water to give it a spreadable gravy consistency
  • Blue shop towels work great with this mixture because they don't tear easily.

Easy Come Easy Go Paper Mache

This mixture works great for projects that you don't intend to keep for long. It is a cheap and easy.

  • One Part Flour
  • One Part Water
  • Newspaper strips

Transparent Paper Mache

This is a great recipe to use if you want your project to be transparent.

  • Three parts white glue 
  • One part water

If you're using thick glue, add more water to the desired consistency.

This recipe works great with tissue paper or other lightweight papers that dry transparent. 

For more paper mache recipes see Ultimate Paper Mache Recipes

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