Paper mache, or papier mache, is an inexpensive craft. It can be safely used for school projects, to create unique centerpieces for parties, and liven up everyday activities at home. Simple materials such as flour, water, old newspapers and paint can create a masterpiece, and a mold can be formed from items such as balloons, foam cups or bowls, cardboard boxes and plastic eggs.
Things You'll Need
Clean off an area to work. Spread newspaper or a throw a tablecloth across the surface to avoid mess and provide a quick cleanup when finished. Use an area that can be used for multiple days to let paper mache dry without interruption.
Draw a sketch of the final product you wish to make, using the materials to form it. Assemble items needed to make your craft. This will help you see the complexity of your project and show if the items you have are suitable.
Blow up a balloon to the size you want. Three to four layers of paper mache will be molded around it, so the balloon must be smaller than the desired size. Tape balloons together with masking tape to form appropriate shape. Pop the balloon after the third application of paper mache has dried, and use a knife or other thin object to remove the balloon. Cover the hole with your fourth and final paper mache layer. Use balloon molds for circular, rounded items, such as people, animals and plants.
Use cups or bowls for molds of items requiring a flattened and domed shape, like a turtle. Apply a thin layer of petroleum jelly over cups or bowls to make them easy to remove after paper mache has dried. Tape and assemble items to create the desired image. The paper mache must be able to fit in all areas. Portray all parts of the figure and have everything centered and evenly dispersed.
Use boxes for vehicles, robots and square animals such as the giraffe. Form boxes into the desired shape. Lengthen and reshape cardboard by flattening it out; if necessary, draw a shape on the cardboard before cutting it out. Use hot glue or staples to seal the mold and keep it from breaking out of shape when paper mache is applied.
Get an easy-to-clean bowl and add 3 parts water to 1 cup flour. Stir until you reach the consistency you desire; flour will thicken paste and water will thin it.
Rip strips of newspaper 1 to 2 inches wide once the mold is chosen. Dip strips into the paste and run it through your fingers to remove the excess paste. Lay strips flat on the mold, covering it entirely. Let paper mache dry completely and apply another layer. Place it facing the opposite direction, overlapping the first one. Continue until your project reaches the desired thickness.
Old telephone books or paper grocery store bags can be used instead of or along with newspaper for mache. Use cinnamon to reduce smell of paper mache if you find it too strong. Paper mache will dry faster if placed in front of a fan.