How to Make a Paper Mache Hat

Why Save Your Paper Bags?

Whenever I go to the grocery store and the checkout clerk asks, "Would you like paper or plastic?" I choose paper. It is not only easier to recycle, it makes great packaging paper and has many uses for art projects. I have recently started working with paper mache and love the versatility it has in creating so many fun and useful art pieces. It makes inexpensive home accessories, and wearable art, such as, costume wear, jewelry wear, and hats (Easter bonnets, St. Patrick's Day hats, Mardi Gras hats). Both adults and kids can enjoy making a variety of creative paper mache projects.

small paper pieces
small paper pieces
paper cut-out
paper cut-out
fitting brim
fitting brim
tucks to tighten brim
tucks to tighten brim
placing paper mache pieces
placing paper mache pieces
top of hat
top of hat
bottom of hat
bottom of hat

Gathering the Supplies

To create my hat, I used wallpaper paste as my adhesive because I happen to have some around the house and it is quicker and easier for me to use. The most common way to make paper mache is to create a homemade paste out of equal parts of flour and water. Some recipes add a little salt, but it is not necessary.

Homemade Recipe: 2 cups of flour, 2 cups of water and 1 Tablespoon of salt (optional). Mix well to get out any lumps. Set aside until you are ready to create your hat.

Materials needed:

  • 2 paper grocery bags
  • masking tape
  • balloon
  • sheet of paper for cut-out
  • scissors
  • pen
  • ruler or measuring tape
  • paints ( acrylic, latex, or poster)
  • paint brushes
  • glue
  • accessories (fabric, ribbons, buttons, beads, feathers)

Instructions

Before you make your paste, tear a paper bag into small strips or pieces approximately 1-2 inches in size. On a sheet of paper, measure an oval shape cut-out approx. 6" x 7". Cut out oval shape and trace it onto the second bag which will be used to create the brim for your hat. You can also cut the brim out of cardboard. Just make sure the cardboard is not too thick so it doesn't look awkward. Draw a second oval approximately 2'' wider around your first oval . Cut out shape and fit around your head. If the shape is too big, fold in equally on each end until it fits. If it is too small, you can extend it on each end also. Once you fit the brim to your head, blow up the balloon to fit the inside of the cut-out. Tape the brim to the balloon. The lower it is placed on the balloon, the deeper the hat will set on your head. Dip each piece of the paper bag, one at a time, into paste and place on the hat. Make sure paper is completely soaked and then work the area where the balloon meets the brim first to create stability. Cover both top and bottom of brim making sure pieces overlap the edge. Create at least three layers to make it stronger. Let the hat dry completely before removing the balloon. You may need to add a few more pieces of paper mache at the bottom of the hat where the brim meets the balloon. Paint and add accessories.

Painted a metallic bronze with accessories added
Painted a metallic bronze with accessories added | Source

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Comments 10 comments

Enlydia Listener profile image

Enlydia Listener 4 years ago from trailer in the country

I love paper mache, and think the hat is cool...is it wearable? Great ideas.


4wardthinker profile image

4wardthinker 4 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA Author

Thanks for stopping by! This hat is wearable, but it helps to get a tight fit before adding paper mache. You can also put 2 holes on each side to add a string that ties under the chin.


Angela Brummer profile image

Angela Brummer 4 years ago from Lincoln, Nebraska

This is really beautiful!


4wardthinker profile image

4wardthinker 4 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA Author

Thank Angela! It was a fun project and easy to create.


donnah75 profile image

donnah75 4 years ago from Upstate New York

I love this! Buying hats at the costume shop for school theater productions is always so expensive for our small budget. This would be a great project for the kids to do to create their own costume pieces. Thanks so much!


4wardthinker profile image

4wardthinker 4 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA Author

Thanks donnah75! Happy to hear this could save some money for your budget. Every little bit helps!


VirginiaLynne profile image

VirginiaLynne 4 years ago from United States

I've done this with kids using colored wrapping paper but didn't know you could make such a stylish adult hat with paper bags. I'm sharing!


4wardthinker profile image

4wardthinker 4 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA Author

Thanks for sharing VirginiaLynne! I had an ah ha moment when I started thinking thrift stores and clearance racks were too expensive for my budget.


theraggededge profile image

theraggededge 3 years ago from Wales

Love the end result - I can see a steampunky papier mache hat in my future!


4wardthinker profile image

4wardthinker 3 years ago from Sierra Nevada CA Author

I' love to see it. What is a streamlining?I'm sure it will be beautiful and fun. Thanks for commenting.

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