How to Make Paper Mâché With Water & PVA Glue

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Use shredded bits of paper to make paper-mache.
Use shredded bits of paper to make paper-mache. (Image: Robyn Mackenzie/iStock/Getty Images)

Paper-mache is versatile enough to use in crafting anything from sculptures to hand-crafted masks. French for "chewed paper," it has been in use since 1785 and is often used today in kids' projects, including pinatas. Balloons, empty water bottles and wire sculptures all make good bases for paper-mache. Best of all, it can be made with regular household items.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • White PVA glue
  • Water
  • Mixing Bowl

Tear the newspaper into thin strips, each approximately 1 inch wide. The number of strips you will need depends on the project you wish to make. You'll need enough to entirely cover the area eight times.

Mix two parts glue to one part water in your mixing bowl. Add more or less depending on the size of your project, but make sure the ratio is correct.

Dip a strip of newspaper into the paper-mache solution until it is soaked. Next, either mold it or lay it across the object you're using to as a base. Cover your project with no more than four layers of paper-mache. Allow it to dry completely.

Add at least another set of four layers to make sure your paper-mache is sturdy enough to withstand a little wear and tear.

Tips & Warnings

  • Paper-mache can have a distinct and sometimes unpleasant smell, so try adding a little cinnamon to the solution.
  • If you live in a very humid environment, add a little less water.
  • Paper-mache can be used to make a pinata. Simply layer pieces over a balloon, then pop the balloon once the pieces have dried.
  • If you're planning on painting your sculpture after it's finished, use plain white paper for the last layer. It will be lighter in color and absorb less paint.

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