Paper mache is an age-old craft that’s been enjoyed by both kids and adults alike for years, especially for art projects.
It is great fun and a perfect way to add another dimension to a learning activity.
What Exactly is Paper Mache?
It involves taking strips of newspaper or other thin scrap paper, wetting it with glue and layering it across a frame to form basic shapes which can later be painted or colored.
It’s common to use liquid school glue, but part of the fun of paper mache is actually creating the glue yourself, also known as paste.
This craft requires a special mixture of ingredients to make the right type of glue, but it’s a simple and fun way to get completely involved with creating a project from scratch.
How to Make Paper Mache Glue?
A lot of the ingredients used to create the glue for paper mache are just simple household supplies.
The trick is to know how much glue to make and how much of each ingredient to add.
Glue that’s too thick will clump together and weigh down the paper strips, causing it to not dry completely. Glue that’s too thin and runny will just drip off the frame of the project and pull the paper strips down.
To create paper mache glue, you’ll need:
- A bottle of white school glue (for larger groups of people you can instead opt to buy larger jugs of white glue, but make sure it’s the liquid type!)
- Lukewarm water
- Bowls or containers of some sort to hold all the mixture
Remember, the glue will likely leave residue on the containers, so if you’re trying this at home, don’t use your favorite mixing dishes.
Add 3/4 of a cup of the liquid glue to 1/4 of a cup of water.
If you’re doing a larger project or working in a classroom with multiple students, you can double or triple this recipe to get the right amount you need.
If you notice the glue becoming too runny or not flowing as you think it should, you can try to balance out your glue with different amounts of each ingredient until you get the desired consistency.
Dip your scraps of paper into the glue and make sure each scrap is evenly coated but not too heavily weighed down.
As you do this, layer it strip by strip onto the frame, shaping it into whatever you’d like it to be.
When building a frame for your paper mache craft, use lightweight material like thin wire, a blown-up balloon or corrugated cardboard.
Paper mache usually works more effectively with basic 3D geometric shapes like spheres, cubes and pyramids, but after the glue dries, these shapes can be attached together to form larger creations, and they can be painted on to add finer details.
How Long Does it Take to Dry?
Paper mache glue usually does not take long to dry, but it will vary based mostly on the temperature of the room and the amount of glue applied to the craft.
To be on the safe side, you might want to give it about a week to fully dry, checking it carefully every day to see how it’s progressing.
The great thing about homemade paper mache glue is that it can be as fun a craft for kids as the paper mache itself.
It’s also a good opportunity in the classroom to teach about proper measurements, math, science and art all in one. Plus, this glue provides a strong surface that can be painted on using many different types of paints.
Most teachers opt to provide students with inexpensive tempra paints and large brushes, but you can definitely use a whole range of products and add as much detail as you want to your paper mache.
Things to Add to Your Project
Below are a few things you can add to your project once the glue is dry:
- Acrylic paint
- Felt and fabric scraps
- Lightweight plastic beads
To find all these supplies as well as the liquid white glue needed for the initial paper mache layers, check your local hobby store, art supply shop or online vendors to order everything you’re looking for.
Finally, make sure to wear casual clothing that you don’t mind getting dirty while making your paper mache (if you’re in a school setting, ask students to do the same) and make sure there’s a large space to create your project, free of debris, carpeted flooring and other areas that you don’t want to accidentally spill glue on.