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Paper Mache Recipes, Masks & Projects | Paper Sculpture Ideas

Updated on May 10, 2015
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Papier Mache Tutorial Roundup

Paper mache is one of the most versatile crafts around because almost any shape is possible - if you can imagine it, you can create it! It's also a fun activity for kids to join in with.

You can be as creative as you want with your projects, from building large sculptures and Halloween decorations, to making fancy dress masks, pretty bowls, props and life-size animals. You can also make us of your artistic skills by painting or adding an interesting surface effect to your creations.

I hope this page inspires you to have a go at papier mache!

Kid's Starter Project

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Top-Rated Paper Mache Books

Books are excellent purchases when learning a craft because they provide you with all the information in one place. Here is a selection of the best:

Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay: How to Create Stunning Wildlife Art Using Patterns and My Easy-to-Make, No-Mess Paper Mache Recipe
Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay: How to Create Stunning Wildlife Art Using Patterns and My Easy-to-Make, No-Mess Paper Mache Recipe

This detailed book is full of color photographs which accompany a range of step-by-step tutorials for impressive animal sculptures. It also provides a special recipe for paper clay which is quick, cheap and mess-free.

 
Papier-Mache for Kids
Papier-Mache for Kids

A fun guide for kids which takes you through the stages of making 8 different projects including a mask, a cat and a monster.

 
Dragon-Maker's Handbook-Full Color Edition
Dragon-Maker's Handbook-Full Color Edition

If you're keen to challenge yourself and make a spectacular project, then a dragon building guide is right up your street! And you don't need anything fancy either....this dragon is made from various commonplace items like wire hangers and old bedsheets.

 
Papier-Mache Monsters: Turn Trinkets and Trash into Magnificent Monstrosities
Papier-Mache Monsters: Turn Trinkets and Trash into Magnificent Monstrosities

This book provides lots of expert instruction and walks you through the making of a monster, including how to make specific parts like the claws, the eyeballs and the scales.

 
Contemporary Papier Mache: Colorful Sculpture, Jewelry, and Home Accessories
Contemporary Papier Mache: Colorful Sculpture, Jewelry, and Home Accessories

Very good source of project ideas, especially for beginners, with clear instructions for making decorative objects like dolls and adorable animals, and DIY jewelry like bangles and beads.

 

The Basics Of Papier Mache

THERE ARE 2 METHODS YOU CAN USE:

- The strip or laminating method is where paper is torn into strips and these strips are dipped in the paste and layered onto the surface you would like to cover. Newspaper is often used with this method.

- The pulp method is where a moldable mix is made from paper pulp and glue, and this clay material is built up over the surface you are covering. 3D details and shapes can be made with the pulp/clay - it doesn't have to be added in an even layer like the paper in the strip method does. Things like sawdust and sand can be added to the clay to create an interesting surface effect.

Often, the strip method is used first to make a smooth layer, then the pulp method is used to add the details and texture over the top.

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Paper mache is an inexpensive craft and the most common paste is made from just glue and water - so it's really easy too. There are also LOADS of other recipes in existence which call for different ingredients, different proportions of materials and different ways of making the mix. When I first started paper mache the sheer volume of different recipes confused me, but it really doesn't matter which one you pick, because they all work!

There isn't much accuracy involved so the recipe possibilities are almost infinite. It's all open to experimentation and people have their own favourite way of doing things. Just pick a simple recipe to begin with and then maybe experiment with your own mixes or try other people's ideas. You'll find some recipes result in different qualities of surface finish, so just keep trying different ones until you find your favourite. Just don't stress about it like I did!

Some people boil their paper mache and some don't, some people like flour and water mixes and some don't. The most important thing to note is that if you stick with the common ingredients like glue, water and flour, it's difficult to go wrong. Note: If you do use a flour recipe, add some salt to try and prevent mold growing on it.

The 'form' i.e. the shape you would like to cover in paper mache, can be created with all sorts of materials including newspaper and tape, used plastic bottles and tins, cereal boxes, cardboard, tin foil, balloons, foam and chicken wire mesh. If you just need a mold i.e. something used to get the right shape but will be removed undamaged later - such as a bowl - then just cover the surface with a protective layer of plastic wrap or foil first.

To make your papier mache durable, remember to seal it with varnish or urethene sealant.

Below you will find recipes for different types of paste and pulp/clay to try out, plus some really impressive projects. If you don't want to make your own mix, you can also buy it. I hope you have fun :-)

Paper Mache Bowl

With wood pieces glued on for decoration, and painted with acrylic paints.
With wood pieces glued on for decoration, and painted with acrylic paints. | Source

Big Head Masks

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Paper Mache Beads

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Click here to see how to make these beads yourself.

Carnival Dragon

I absolutely love the colours on this dragon!
I absolutely love the colours on this dragon! | Source

Light-Up House

Lit up with fairy lights!
Lit up with fairy lights! | Source

Large Handmade Sculptures

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Holiday Decorations

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Click here for a tutorial showing you how to make these cute Halloween pumpkins out of paper mache clay.

Paper Mache in Progress

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Paper Mache With Book Pages

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More of The Best Paper Mache Products

The following products include a bag of ready-to-mix paper mache clay, a pack of paper clay, and hard coat Mod Podge glue for giving a protective coating to your project.

Skeleton Flamingo

A fun idea for a Halloween decoration!
A fun idea for a Halloween decoration! | Source

Fast Easy Paper Mache Recipe

Have you tried paper mache before?

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    • FatBoyThin profile image

      Colin Garrow 2 years ago from Kinneff, Scotland

      Some great examples here - I've made lots of papier mache masks over the years (mainly for theatre work) but it's always handy to discover new ideas. Great Hub. Voted up.

    • Elliott Shifman L profile image

      Elliott Shifman L 2 years ago

      The ideas are just outstanding. I will have to try to make something out of paper mache. It seems like a project that I will enjoy doing. #elliottshifmanl

    • wordswithlove profile image

      Neetu M 3 years ago from USA

      Very nice hub, wellingtonboot. I love paper mache crafts, although I haven't tried doing them myself. Maybe I will get my daughter inspired with this hub to experiment with it over the holidays. :) Thank you.

    • wellingtonboot profile image
      Author

      wellingtonboot 3 years ago from U.K.

      Unfortunately I don't think there are :( Glad you liked the page though!

    • lbrummer profile image

      Loraine Brummer 3 years ago from Hartington, Nebraska

      I love the lighted house. Are there instructions for it? Lots of great ideas here. Thanks

    • pitlock profile image

      pitlock 4 years ago

      im thinking about making my own skeleton bones for Halloween decorations next year.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      amazing efforts and appericiate

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Amazingly thorough - thank you!

    • lizbradshaw profile image

      lizbradshaw 5 years ago

      Thanks for the share, especially the link to the paper mache beads. I'm going to try this tonight!

    • cdgood profile image

      cdgood 5 years ago

      Great!

    • cdgood profile image

      cdgood 5 years ago

      I forgot how much I like Paper Mache!

    • profile image

      halloweencostumebuyingideas 5 years ago

      Great Ideas!

    • queenofduvetcover profile image

      queenofduvetcover 5 years ago

      Very cool!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Great lens. I usually use clay, but it's getting hard to get where I am and was looking for another medium. Thanks.

    • Spiderlily321 profile image

      Spiderlily321 5 years ago

      Wow, very, very cool. Thanks for sharing this. I'm adding you to my featured lens list on my halloween lens :)

    • AngelDey profile image

      AngelDey 5 years ago

      This was EXACTLY what I was looking for! A lot of other pages I've come across had pictures to admire but nothing to tell me how to do the crafts. I have a ton of paper (junk mail, ads, etc.) that I didn't want to throw out and didn't really want to just make a bunch of sheets of paper. I'm not much of a card maker so I wanted something different to do with it all. This lens will be so very useful for me. Thanks so much!

    • Kathleen Hiler profile image

      Kathleen Hiler 5 years ago from Mountain Home

      This is one of the best sites..bookmarked it ot come back..did some great pieces befroe but not for awahile..want to do life-size:)

    • Nany Palacio profile image

      Nany Palacio 5 years ago

      I really love the dragon and elephant! thanks for sharing this information

    • ara-bella profile image

      ara-bella 5 years ago

      The dragon is awesome

    • curious0927 profile image

      curious0927 5 years ago

      Just Love this lens! Going to feature it on my Art Tools & Supplies lens! Just wonderful! Blessed! I love the colors on that dragon too. WOW

    • KevCooper profile image

      KevCooper 5 years ago

      The only limit with papier mache is your imagination.

    • profile image

      Traceeshobbies 5 years ago

      Second time checking out this lens. I think it's my favorite!

    • profile image

      Traceeshobbies 5 years ago

      This will keep me quite busy without spending too much. I love the elephant I'm going to try it!

    • kathysart profile image

      kathysart 5 years ago

      I've been looking through a lot of your lenses on sculpture.. sooo good! THUMBS UP ANGEL BLESSED

    • JohnMichael2 profile image

      JohnMichael2 5 years ago

      A wonderful presentation... thanks for sharing

    • profile image

      DanMonsterMan 6 years ago

      Paper mache is so much more than people remember from elementary school. I don't know any other medium that is as versatile and forgiving. I make dragons, but there is no limit to what can be created. Everyone should be doing this.

      Need more examples? Visit my site GourmetPaperMache.com or my blog, PaperMacheBlog.com.

      Dan (the monster-man) Reeder