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Halloween Paper Mache Decorations and Props

Updated on December 08, 2014
Halloween Monster Paper Mache Prop
Halloween Monster Paper Mache Prop | Source
PA Ren Faire paper mache ghoul
PA Ren Faire paper mache ghoul | Source

Paper Mache Halloween Decorations, Party Props to Craft with Papier Mache

Halloween paper mache crafts and masks are green, creative, frugal and really cool! Paper mache is an easy paper and glue crafts technique you can use to make all types of Halloween decorations, masks, props and costumes.

All you need to make extreme Halloween paper mache crafts are old newspapers, papier mache paste, masking tape and balloons or plastic bags. Finish up the creepy details for your Halloween monsters with some paint and you've got all the materials you need to create incredibly unique Halloween decorations, masks and props for your porch or Halloween graveyard.

Photo Credit: Lee Hansen

Giant Lighted Paper Mache Pumpkin Head, Lee Hansen
Giant Lighted Paper Mache Pumpkin Head, Lee Hansen

Paper Mache Sculpture Strength

Once dry, paper mache objects are hard and surprisingly strong; if you build your model over a sturdy frame or armature you can make large objects, statues or other props for Halloween parties and yard decorations. You can even use paper mache to make creepy skeletons, coffins and puppets!

More elaborate paper mache projects often incorporate strips of fabric in the final layers to add texture and wrinkles that look like skin or bandages.

What is Paper Mache ? - Paper Mache is a simple craft technique made with paper and wet paste

Halloween paper mache with cutout face
Halloween paper mache with cutout face | Source

Craft Knives for Artists and Hobbyists

Xacto X5282 Basic Knife Set
Xacto X5282 Basic Knife Set

Comes with a variety of blades including straight edge, general purpose, fine point, and scoring blades to cut lightweight materials including ood, cardboard, paper, plastic, cloth, foam board and paper mache.

This versatile set includes different types of handles and comes with a wooden storage box.

 

Paper mache comes from the French words meaning "chewed paper" - and is one of the oldest forms of recycle art media.

Paper mache refers to the process as well as to the items of the resulting artwork. Paper mache is simple to create; it's basically made with wet paste or flour and water home made glue, plus torn or shredded paper applied to a mold form or an existing object.

The paper mache technique is used worldwide to create simple to elaborate folk art, masks, sculptures, theatrical props, furniture, home decorating items, pinatas, jewelry and all sorts of lightweight toys.

Although the basic process is easy enough for young children it's challenging enough for professional artists.

Paper mache crafts satisfy all ages and artistic abilities, and the materials are inexpensive, nontoxic and readily available.

After you have enough paper layers glued to your design you can build up additional details or cut out features from the dried paper mache.

Paper mache or paper modelling crafts are eco-friendly and easy to make. All paper mache recipes begin with two basic ingredients: recycled newspapers and a wet paste.

Paste recipes range from simple flour and water or glue and water formulas to wheatpaste, wallpaper paste or more advanced combinations of adhesive glue, joint compound and linseed oil. For paper mache crafts with children, basic flour, salt and water or craft glue and water paper mache pastes are recommended, especially if you're working with preschooler age children.

Image Credit: Lee Hansen

You'll Need an Extra Large Mixing Bowl - Paper Mache Paste Bowl

Mix and use your paper mache paste in a large metal or plastic mixing bowl. Be sure to cover your paste and refrigerate it if you plan to store it for a few days.

Purple Melamine Bowl (0238 5160)12-3/4-Inch Mixing Bowl
Purple Melamine Bowl (0238 5160)12-3/4-Inch Mixing Bowl

If you need a cover for your big mixing bowl you can put the bowl into a large plastic kitchen trash bag and fasten with a rubber band or twist tie.

 
Don't Eat the Paper Mache Paste
Don't Eat the Paper Mache Paste

Kid-Safe Paper Mache Paste Recipes

Simple Paste Forumulas for Paper Mache Crafts

Paper mache crafts use simple materials: recycled newspapers and paste. When working on paper mache projects with children it's best to avoid glues made with wallpaper paste or wheat paste because those commercial mixes contain chemical additives to prevent mold.

You can make a home made mold-inhibiting paper mache paste that's kid safe using simple recipes made with flour, water and salt (cooked or uncooked). Or you can mix kid-safe white glue with water.

Simple paper mache paste recipe - mix equal parts of flour and cold water together until smooth and creamy. Store unused paper mache paste in the refrigerator in a tightly covered bowl; discard after 3 days.

Basic cooked paper mache paste formula - measure 5 parts water to 1 part flour. Heat 4 parts of the water to boiling. Mix remaining 1 part cold water with the flour and stir in 2 Tablespoons salt (helps prevent mold) . Mix the flour, salt and cold water until all lumps are dissolved. Slowly add the flour, salt and water mixture to the boiling water and stir well to combine. Cook your paste mixture over moderate heat, gently boiling, for about 3 minutes. Cool. Add a few drops of peppermint extract or vanilla if desired to improve scent.

Please don't eat the paste.

You can find versions of these paper mache paste recipes many places online; I adapted these from resources at About.com. Read further to discover more cool paper mache paste recipes and Halloween paper mache projects.

Washable White Glue - Kid Friendly White Glue, School Glue

Multipurpose white school glue is washable, nontoxic and dries clear. I use white school glue in my favorite recipe for nontoxic paper mache paste.

Elmer's Liquid School Glue, Washable, 1 Gallon, 1 Count
Elmer's Liquid School Glue, Washable, 1 Gallon, 1 Count

The standard glue used for classrooms, Elmer's school glues are formulated for child use; they're safe, non-toxic, and washable - ideal for making paper mache paste to use with children.

 

Stained Corpse Paste Recipe

2 parts cornstarch
1 part white glue
1 part cold black coffee or water

In a plastic bowl with a tight-fitting lid, measure and mix all ingredients together with a large wooden spoon. Stir until texture is very smooth. Mixture will have a thick consistency.

Stained Corpse Paper Mache Paste
Stained Corpse Paper Mache Paste | Source

Ancient Looking Paper Mache Paste

This special paper paste recipe works well if you're making realistic skeleton parts from paper mache. It gives the "bones" an aged, stained appearance.

This innovative paper mache paste applies and dries well to a tea-stained or aged look because of the coffee in the mixture.

The basic measurements for this recipe are simple; they're created in ratios, or parts.

If you want to try a simple batch, use cups in place of "parts" and you'll have about 2 cups of paste to work your project. The coffee in this recipe will stain the paste so it looks creepy and old. You can use water if you want a whiter paper mache paste. but that's just regular paste.

Mummy corpse paper mache recipe and instructions/photo courtesy All About Halloween

Flying Spooky Ghoul Paper Mache Monster

Paper mache flying Halloween monster
Paper mache flying Halloween monster

Easy Paper Mache Monster to Make and Hang from Tree or Porch

Scare the willikers out of the neighbors or trick or treaters with this silently spooky flying monster you make with paper mache and a length of black tulle netting plus some black burlap. This is the flying ghoul decoration that inspired my own Halloween paper mache craft project for our porch decorations last year. This spooky creation might be made from a gourd or paper mache; my frightful ghoul has a paper mache head with a similar spooky smile.

Photo credit: Ghoulish paper mache flying monster, Pennsylvania Ren-Faire, Lee Hansen

DIY Paper Mache Halloween Props - Big and Creepy Halloween Paper Mache Projects

Make your own large-size decorations for yard, porch, auto or living room with these Halloween paper mache craft projects.

Rum and Dragon Paper Mache - Fantastic dragon and old folks marionette construction

Watch as Dan Reeder constructs and assembles a hip freak-dancing, rum drinking senior couple and a dragon, and enjoy their partying ...

Paper Mache Pumpkin Head Scarecrow 25 feet tall
Paper Mache Pumpkin Head Scarecrow 25 feet tall

Professional Grade Paper Mache Paste Recipe - For Extreme Paper Mache Work, I Like This Recipe

This paper mache paste will produce a sturdy hard finish. Apply papier mache to your mold by pulling a strip of paper through the paste and using fingers as a gentle squeegee to remove excess. Apply strip to your paper mache mold, overlapping strips in diagonal patterns.

Try to only apply 3 layers at each pasting session; dry between applications to prevent mold. Coat your finished mache with an extra layer of paste for added strength.

This is my favorite paper mache paste formula.

Basic Paper Mache Paste Recipe

1 cup flour
1 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon salt (helps prevent mold) I like to use kosher salt
1 -1/2 cups cold water
1 cup white glue

Combine flour, corn starch and salt in a large bowl

Add the water and mix thoroughly to create a creamy, thick batter. Stir in glue and mix until well combined.

To store, cover tightly and refrigerate.

If you need to work on smaller objects or are creating fine details, you can thin this paste by adding a bit more water.

How to Make Paper Mache

Paper mache with balloon mold
Paper mache with balloon mold

Simple steps for making a mold or armature

It's easy to build your paper mache creations. You need time, patience, paste, a place to work and lots of paper.

Basic paper mache requires lots of 1 to 2 inch wide strips of newspaper - torn, not cut - paper towels, tissue paper, paper mache paste and a form to shape your paper mache project.

If you're making a mask you can use a ready-made paper or plastic mask as the basic form, or you can use a balloon, large bowl turned upside down, or a plastic gallon milk jug.

You can also experiment with molding a double layer of aluminum foil over your face then place the foil on a wad of crumpled newspaper covered with a layer of plastic.

Arcor Aluminum Soft Flexible Sculpture Wire, 1/8 in Dia X 130 ft L Roll
Arcor Aluminum Soft Flexible Sculpture Wire, 1/8 in Dia X 130 ft L Roll

Flexible aluminum armature wire is safe for young artists and strong enough to hold clay or paper mache sculptures. Recommended for schools, this wire is easy to bend and comes in a 130 foot spool roll.

 

Setting Up a Paper Mache Mold

If your project requires that you remove the mold after the paper mache dries, before starting cover the form with a piece of aluminum foil or plastic wrap held in place with masking tape.

If you use a balloon for your form, be sure to leave a hole near the bottom so you can pop the balloon and remove it after your paper mache is completely dry. To remove crumpled newspaper wads from large paper mache form, cut a hole in the back or bottom and pull out the wadding.

For large 3D molds you can use just about anything available that will give you the basic shape you need. For large round objects like pumpkins you can use a plastic trash bag filled with crumpled newspapers. Tape the bag closed and leave a stem. Cover the shape with a layer of newspapers taped securely with masking tape or duct tape.

Other mold and form materials include aluminum foil, floral foam, styrofoam shapes and blocks, ready-made masks, boxes, twisted wire, sticks or branches.

To make a skeleton many artists use an inexpensive plastic Halloween skeleton and cover it with masking tape to make it more receptive to the paper mache paste and strips. You don't want to go to all the work of covering those bones just to have the paper mache fall off after it dries.

When your project is dry use a craft knife or snips to cut out features, and trim edges, then apply paint!

Photo: doviende, Flickr

Halloween Paper Mache Monsters - Creepy paper mache crafts for Halloween fun

How to create fantastic freaks from paper mache!

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

Learn to craft Halloween paper mache masks and prop monsters using creative papier mache techniques.

 
paper mache lion mask by Valerie Everett, flickr.com
paper mache lion mask by Valerie Everett, flickr.com

Halloween Paper Mache Crafts for Kids

Kids LOVE Paper Mache Arts and Crafts, Especially for Halloween

Paper mache is sort of a combination of cut and paste plus dough modelling, and kids love to work with those arts and crafts techniques. Here are my favorite fun Halloween paper mache crafts for children - pumpkins, spiders, masks and Halloween decorations made with paper mache.

Image Credit: Valerie Everett, flickr.com - Attribution, International CC by 4.0

Paper Mache Costume, Cookie
Paper Mache Costume, Cookie | Source

Paper Mache Ornaments and Decorations

Mix up a batch of paper mache kid-friendly glue and set up a work area for the kids to make paper mache Halloween ornaments and toys.

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

How to create a fantastic paper mache dragon from simple materials: wire coat hangers, newsprint, masking tape, old bedsheets, flour and water

 

Fantastic Paper Mache Dragons

Learn to make elaborate paper mache decorations.

Make your own flying, firebreathing monsters! The fabulous sculptures depicted in The Dragon-Makers Handbook will inspire you to get creative with paper mache clay.

In fact, they might just fire you up to start sculpting fantasy art as you learn the basics of working with armatures and fine art details to create a winged dragon.

Paper Mache Clay Adds Details and Dimension

Made with ground up paper pulp Instead of paper strips

Paper mache clay offers a twist on good old fashioned paper mache. Paper mache clay is a favorite artist material that is more sculptural than regular paper strips and glue mache mixtures. Some paper mache crafters combine the techniques - they use ordinary paper mache to create a basic structure then use paper mache clay to add 3D details and scupted or shaped features like eyebrows, lips or warts to masks and heads.

Some artists sculpt entirely using paper mache clay - the results are amazing! Paper mache clay work is popular with folk artists who use it for everything from masks and dolls to home décor items.

Paper mache clay takes paint very well and is nice to use for making doll heads, jewelry or small figurines.

Make Your Own Paper Mache Clay

Drywall Compound for Serious Paper Mache Paste - For adult use only!

Paper Sculpting Claycrete Mix - No mess paper mache clay

Made with 100% pure paper pulp: no used magazines or newspapers. 5 pound package contains materials made in USA.

AMACO Claycrete Paper Mache, 5-Pound Bag, White
AMACO Claycrete Paper Mache, 5-Pound Bag, White

Won't stick to your hands or tools; begins to set/harden in 30 minutes. Easy to make, just mix with water.

 

How to Make a Paper Mache Gauze Mask

Gauze molding fabric is a unique mache material you might want to experiment with for small paper mache crafts and masks. This video uses a foil mask form covered with mache roll (plaster infused gauze).

Have you tried to make a Halloween paper mache mask, decoration or party prop?

© 2011 Lee Hansen

Your Paper Mache Craft Comments Welcome - Talk About Halloween Paper Mache

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    • Lisa Remmick profile image

      Lisa Remmick 4 years ago

      You have some great ideas here. It makes me want to create some projects with my kids this weekend. Really impressed with your lens!

    • bossypants profile image

      bossypants 4 years ago from America's Dairyland

      I had no idea there were so many variations on paper mache recipes! Very informative lens and great projects!

    • profile image

      halloweenprops 4 years ago

      Fantastic selection and a fun project! Thanks. :)

    • Elyn MacInnis profile image

      Elyn MacInnis 4 years ago from Shanghai, China

      I used a lot of paper mache when I was little. I even made a rather large dragon that wore my roller skates! I had put it aside in my mind as an option - messy? - but I am inspired by your lens and just might try it again! Blessings to you -

    • entertainmentev profile image

      entertainmentev 5 years ago

      I can't wait to get started! I will have the best Halloween house on the street :)

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