How to Make Paper Pulp Sculptures

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Make a sculpture from paper pulp (also known as papier mache) and become part of a centuries-old tradition. Answer these questions to begin the project. Will the sculpture be freestanding or mounted on another surface? Will it support itself or be built on a framework? Will the sculptor work freehand or mold the sculpture over another shape? How large will the finished project be? Will it be painted when completed? Is it for temporary or extended use? Will the artist be an adult or a child? Base the choice of recipe on the answers to these questions.

Things You'll Need

  • Paper
  • Paste or glue
  • Water
  • Container for mixing
  • Blender (optional)
  • Sculpting Tools (optional)
  • Mold form (optional)

Molded Paper Pulp Sculptures

  • Prepare the mold by lubricating it to allow easy removal of the finished sculpture.

  • Prepare the selected recipe (see the "Recipes" section for ideas).

  • Press a layer of the pulp mixture to the mold and smooth gently to eliminate air bubbles and gaps. Repeat until the sculpture reaches the desired depth.

  • Dry the sculpture according to the recipe directions.

  • Remove the mold. Finish the sculpture as desired: paint, decorate with glitter, add paper-pulp details or cut out eyeholes for a mask.

Sculpted Paper Pulp Projects

  • Prepare the selected recipe.

  • Begin forming the general shape of the sculpture.

  • Add broad details by building up areas or pressing areas down. Fine details may be created with sculpting tools or such everyday items as pencils and spoons.

  • Use extra pulp to fill in any inadvertent dings or dents.

  • Dry according to recipe directions. Paint or decorate as desired.

Recipes

  • Use this traditional, paper-strip papier-mache recipe from the Elmer's Glue website: "Mix about 1/4 cup of washable, non-toxic white glue and a small amount of water in a medium-sized bowl. The mixture should be runny. Tear the newspaper into small strips. Dip the strips of newspaper into the glue mixture. Place over mold or on sculpture. Dry overnight." This recipe is suitable for use with children.

  • Try this recipe for paper-pulp clay from KinderArt: "Make papier mache pulp by placing several sheets of newspaper (torn into tiny pieces) into a blender or food processor with some water. Strain the pulp using a colander or sieve. Mix the pulp with one tablespoon or more of white glue. Put the pieces of torn or shredded paper into the bowl until the bowl is almost full. Slowly pour the hot water over the paper, stirring constantly. When the paper is soaked, it should be just covered with water. Put the bowl into the microwave oven and cook for about 10 minutes. Remove and let stand. Repeat every hour for about 5 hours. Using a wire strainer, squeeze the excess water out of the pulp, making sure to leave just a bit of water. Add the glue or wallpaper paste to the mixture and mix well. Store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator."

  • Find recipes for more sophisticated uses and projects in Resources. Applications are as limitless as your imagination.

Tips & Warnings

  • Drying time will vary according to the thickness of the project. Non-toxic glue makes a mixture safe for children to use.
  • Use caution with children when making cooked recipes. Failure to dry projects thoroughly may result in mold or mildew growth.

References

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