Let’s Paper Mache!

The wait for summer holidays always seem endless. As the holidays come closer my ‘to-do’ list becomes longer and it continues to become longer all through the holidays! The list is also as endless as the wait  for summer hols! Always! Apart from trekking or travelling, one of the ‘to-do’ is that I involve the kids in making the most of the warm summer days through art & craft ideas for projects, birthdays, or just decorations for their room; or to capture moments, of our vacation/ adventures as keepsakes. I have always found working on smaller craft projects invigorating and challenging. These summer hols, Yashaana and I worked on Paper Mache projects (my son, claims he is too grown up for this stuff!).

We made our Paper Mache pulp with old newspapers. Here are three of the recipes that I use (depending on how much time I have):

Paper Mache Recipe 1- This is the recipe I usually follow because it is so simple and I always have the ingredients in my cupboard. I make paste of refined flour with water (pancake batter consistency). No cooking required.

Paper Mache Recipe 2- This paste recipe is very similar to Recipe 1 except that the same paste is diluted further and cooked till it turns translucent. It is supposed to be a little stronger and it dries to almost transparent finish.

Important Tip: Before starting your project, cover it completely with either two layers of newspaper or cling film. I prefer the latter. It makes it easy for the dried paper mache project to come off its mold. Any object at home can be your mold for the paper mache project. You can use bowls, plate, glasses etc. Just make sure that the shape is such that it can easily come off the dried paper mache project (or else your mold/container will be stuck!). 

Procedure for Recipes 1 & 2:

  • Tear the newspaper into long strips or small pieces and keep aside.
  • Spread few layers of newspaper on the surface you’ll be working on.
  • Dip these pieces into either Recipe 1 or 2 and keep applying smooth layers on your project, flatten the layers with your finger tips and remove excess flour paste.
  • Add at least 5 to 6 layers of paper-mâché to your surface. Layering makes it stronger; there is no rule to how many layers. You be the judge.
  • Leave to dry completely in a well ventilated place (not in the sun). It may take a couple of days. It becomes as hard as wood once well dried.
  • Nudge the dried paper mâché off the mold by unwrapping the cling film. Once released off the mold, peel off the cling film completely.
  • Now your project is ready for paint or embellishments. You can use acrylic paints.
  • Apply a coat of clear varnish, once you are through with colouring or decorating your project and when it is dry.
  • The clear varnish prevents the acrylic paint from chipping and gives the paper mâché project shine as well as strength.

Paper Mache Recipe 3- Tear the paper into small pieces and soak overnight in water, add a bit of salt/ boric powder to retard mold growth. Next, sieve the soaked paper pieces and pound them using mortar pestle or anything heavy available at home, use the floor (un-tiled) as your base for pounding. Once I used my wet grinder! Had a tough time cleaning it!

Squeeze out excess water and add PVA glue to form very grainy-dough like consistency. Wrap it in cling film to store in refrigerator (or else it starts smelling if you don’t use it a day or two).

Procedure for Recipe 3:

Follow the ‘Important Tip’. Now all you have to do is use this coarse dough as you would use modeling clay. It is just like working with putty or modeling clay. Keep applying it to your mold and flatten it with your finger tips. Make sure that the dough you spread is even (in terms of thickness) all around the mold, especially around the rim (in case of open containers). The painting procedure for this Recipe is also same as above. 

Personally, I prefer to sand the dried paper mache project, with emery paper, before I start painting on it. It gives smoother effect.  Its okay if you don’t want to sand it, the surface is very easy to paint, allowing you to stencil, sponge with bright colours, add interesting designs to your finished product. You may also glue and embed sequins, beads, crystal etc. 

We made Recipe 3, this time, as we had time on our hand. Yashaana wanted to make a bowl, a pen stand and a ‘hold-all’ box for her craft material. Here are some pictures of one of our summer projects! 

made holes in the ‘hold-all’ box (when it was still wet) on either sides, as I wanted to add a string to give it a bag like effect. 

PS- I am sorry I don’t have pictures of while we were making it 🙁 I hadn’t planned to blog it.

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