Paper Mache as an Art Medium
Paper Mache isn't Just for Kids
Paper Mache requires few tools, simple materials, and recycles old paper into art. Now we associate it with children's school projects but paper mache started out as and remains a medium for fine art. Read on to learn more about this great medium (and if you have kids this could be an art you can share and work on together).
What is Paper Mache?
"Paper Mache or Papier-mÃ¢chÃ© (French for 'chewed-up paper' because of its appearance) is a construction material that consists of pieces of paper, sometimes reinforced with textiles, stuck together using a wet paste (e.g., glue, starch, or wallpaper adhesive). The crafted object becomes solid when the paste dries."
That's the technical definition. However more of us remember paper mache from school, especially covering balloons with strips of newspaper. Well paper mache is much more than just a material for kids projects and piÃ±atas. It has been and still is used as a material for fine art. So throw away your visions of 2nd grade and have some fun with paper mache as a grown up.
General Paper Mache Sites
Paper Mache Methods
There are two basic types of paper mache.
This is the kind we all remember from grade school. Building up layers of paper strips which have been dipped in glue/paste. This method works best for creating hollow forms like bowls and masks.
Torn strips of newspaper (or other scrap paper) are dipped in glue and then built up in layers over a form. Forms can be balloons, wiremesh such as chicken wire, or balled up paper. Good glues for the strip method are wheat paste, PVA (white) glue thinned with water, or wallpaper paste.
Paper mache pulp is mashed up paper mixed with a binder such as white glue or wallpaper paste, it can be very fine or quite chunky and is a bit clay like in the way it is sculpted. It works best for solid figures. There are many recipes for pulp which are listed below.
Both forms can be combined in one piece. For example a face form for a mask can be built with strips and then details added with pulp.
Paper Mache Pulp Recipes
While you can buy paper mache mixes that will save time and mess, making your own is just so much fun. Plus you can tailor it to exactly what you need.
- Paper Pulp Recipe
From Enchanted Beings
- PROPTOLOGY: Recipes
Ronnie Burkett's Papier Mache Recipes
- Papier Mache - Tutorials - Some Advanced Papier Mache Recipes
Martin Favreau shares with us his tried and tested recipes for pulped papier mache.