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Paper Mache Crafts and Folk Art

Updated on December 21, 2015
Lee Hansen profile image

Lee is a life long crafts enthusiast and designer of paper crafts, fiber arts and adult coloring pages. Visit her websites (info on profile)

Comical Cat Paper Mache Sculpture
Comical Cat Paper Mache Sculpture | Source

Fabulous Funky Paper Mache Crafts, Decorations, Gifts and Party Props

Learn how to make easy creative paper mache crafts for home, classroom or art gallery! Paper mache (papier mache) is a simple arts and crafts technique we learn in preschool and love through our senior years. Many folk artists all over the world create beautiful decorations, ornaments and gifts made from sculptured and painted papier mache. Made with scrap paper, water and paste, the basic paper mache formula is green and frugal - it's a wonderful way to recycle old newspapers, telephone books and paper bags or clean rags.

You can make paper mache crafts small or large, in simple or complicated shapes. The fun papier mache crafts you can make range from magnets, jewelry, masks and puppets, to holiday decorations, home décor, theatrical props and if you're really ambitious - paper mache furniture.

Learn to make your own paper mache paste recipes for all types of crafts, check out the simple modeling techniques and find great tips and ideas for making your own creative paper mache crafts in this lens.

Paper mache photo credits: patti haskins, flickr.com

Paper Mache Dragon Parade Float - Giant size papier mache eating the Smithsonian tower

Papier mache parade float dragon
Papier mache parade float dragon | Source

Paper mache dragon float in Washington, DC
Public domain photo from the Commons collection, Flickr.com

Paper Mache Craft Books - Learn to make unique paper mache crafts and gifts

Paper mache and fabric mache are basic crafts we learn as children that we can use as adults and artists.

How to Make Paper Mache Paste - White Glue and Water Simple Paste Recipe

There are several recipes for basic paper mache paste. The simplest paper mache paste is made with white glue and water, as demonstrated in this video.

Paper Mache Goblin
Paper Mache Goblin | Source
Paper mache spooky Halloween decoration
Paper mache spooky Halloween decoration

Home Made Paper Mache Paste

Flour, water, salt

Paper mache crafts use simple materials: recycled newspapers and paste. Any paper mache paste formula you choose from the recipes below will work well with most paper mache crafts. When making paper mache crafts with children it's best to avoid glues made with wallpaper paste or wheat paste because those commercial glues contain chemical additives to prevent mold. Instead, you can make a home-cooked mold-inhibiting kid-friendly paper mache paste from flour, water and salt. Or you can mix kid-safe white glue with water.

Here are a few links to different paper mache paste recipes, starting with the most basic (and kid-friendly) formulas. Store home made paper mache paste in refrigerator, in a covered plastic or glass container. I've kept paper mache paste for up to 4 days in the refrigerator without any spoilage problems.

My Favorite Paper Mache Paste Recipe - I used this "professional grade" home made papier mache paste to make Halloween ghoulish decorations.

Glue and Water - mix 3 parts white glue with 1 part water.

Basic uncooked paper mache paste - mix equal parts of flour and cold water together until smooth and creamy. Store unused paste in the refrigerator or discard after 3 days.

Basic cooked paper mache paste - measure out 5 parts water to 1 part flour. Heat 4 parts water to boiling. Mix remaining 1 part cold water with the flour and stir in 2 Tablespoons salt (mold inhibitor). Mix until all lumps are dissolved. Slowly add the flour, salt and water mixture to the boiling water and stir well to combine. Cook over moderate heat, boiling, for about 3 minutes. Cool. Add a few drops of peppermint or vanilla flavoring if desired. While it is non toxic, please don't eat the paste.

Tinted Paper Mache Paste - great for aged look paper mache, this paste imparts a tea-stained or aged look to your work.

Paper Mache Paste Recipes - a list of various paper mache past formulas compiled at About.com .

How To Make Paper Mache - This tutorial uses Elmer's Glue and water paper mache paste recipe

Paper Mache Crafts - Tips, Tutorials, Techniques for Paper Mache Crafts

These links will take you to pages with creative paper mache crafts you can make.

Papier Mache Bracelets - Art jewelry made from paper mache

Paper mache jewelry by jimsteffens.com, photo from Flickr.com by smartalexacker
Paper mache jewelry by jimsteffens.com, photo from Flickr.com by smartalexacker

Papier Mache Craft Tips

Before you start, take note of these paper mache tips

Tips and tricks for working with paper mache.

Paper mache is easy, fun and messy. You'll want to protect work surfaces, floors and clothing so you don't end up with a sticky mess. Here are my tips for working with paper mache.

  • Wear old clothing or a butcher-type apron; roll up sleeves or wear a short sleep shirt.
  • Cover work surface with newspapers or plastic drop cloths. I like to use a trash bag cut open and across the bottom. When your paper mache project is finished you can roll up the mess and throw it into the trash.
  • Wear think plastic or latex gloves when you work with paper mache; your hands will thank you, and if the phone rings while you're working with paper mache you can pull off a glove faster than you can clean paste from your hands.
  • Have a few wet paper towels handy to mop up spills. A bowl of clean water is handy, too.
  • Wet and finger finger-squeegee a few strips at a time and drape them over the edge of your bowl for a minute or so. This lets the paste sink into the paper fibers and makes it flexible.
  • Only apply 3 layers of paper mache at each session; several days of thin layers will yield a stronger form with less chance of mold.

Allow paper mache to dry 12-24 hours or more between pasting sessions.

Paper Mache Clay - Adults Only

Home made paper mache clay is not intended for use by children. Its ingredients include joint compound and linseed oil.

Make Your Own Paper Mache Clay

Paper mache clay allows you to create sculpted and finely detailed objects. Paper mache clay is often combined with traditional paper mache to add raised features on the smooth paper mache surface. Some artists work solely with paper mache clay to create lightweight sculptures that don't require kiln firing.

Ultimate Paper Mache is a terrific place to find inspirational and creative crafts made with paper mache and paper mache clay. Their web site has a DIY recipe for home made paper mache clay.

NOTE: Home made paper mache clay is not intended for use by children, but you can buy sinple paper mache pulp that's kid-safe for children over 8 years old.

© 2011 Lee Hansen

Let's Get Messy with Paper Mache - Leave a comment or favorite papier mache project tip here!

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    • Carol Morris profile image

      Carol Morris 14 months ago

      Great hub with loads of interesting information. I used to be very into papier mache, but unfortunately I haven't done much for quite some time now. This hub has me wanting to get my papier mache materials out and start creating.

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 2 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      Nice to see a familiar face. I've used the Ultimate paper mache clay recipe and love it. Paper mache crafts can be addictive.

    • profile image

      miaponzo 4 years ago

      I love paper mache! SO FUN! But, it never comes out quite right for me.. don't know what I'm doing wrong.. I need to learn from you!

    • PaulWinter profile image

      PaulWinter 5 years ago

      I haven't made anything with Paper mache since I was a kid. From your lens I can see it's a really versatile medium.

    • profile image

      julieannbrady 5 years ago

      My sister is the artist in our family ... I can distinctly remember many a paper mache project of hers when we were in high school. Love the idea of making jewelry items and masks.

    • KevCooper profile image

      KevCooper 5 years ago

      Messy it can certainly be, but lots of fun.

    • profile image

      entertainmentev 5 years ago

      I've been wanting to try this craft for awhile. Thank you for inspiring me to get started!

    • eilval profile image

      Eileen 5 years ago from Western Cape , South Africa

      Great lens - thanks

    • profile image

      klaird 5 years ago

      These examples of paper mache crafts are just beautiful. The designs and paintings on the sculptures really make them stand out. I've featured your lens on my "50 Craft Ideas for Adults" page. Great Job!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      wow. love the art

    • Virginia Allain profile image

      Virginia Allain 5 years ago from Central Florida

      We made a pinata once. It is a messy craft, but fun too.

    • WildFacesGallery profile image

      Mona 5 years ago from Iowa

      These are so amazing hard to believe its paper mache.