Art Class

Papier Mâché

The term papier mâché (pronounced póp-ee-ay mash-áy) comes from the French phrase meaning "chewed paper." You can use papier mâché to make piñatas, masks, jewelry, and lots of other crafts. Papier mâché is made from newspapers and paste. Projects are easy to make, but can take several days to complete, so be sure to allow enough time.

Use these instructions to make your own papier mâché:

Alert! This activity can be messy. Always cover your work area, including the floor, with newspapers before beginning. Wear old clothes. And check with a parent or other adult before using kitchen supplies!

The basic method for making papier mâché objects is layering. The layering method involves pasting layers of paper pieces over a basic shape to make such objects as containers and masks.

What you'll need:

  • large bowl
  • plastic cup
  • newspapers
  • white household glue
  • water
  • objects to use as a mold (suggestions: paper or plastic bowl, balloon, shoe box, toilet paper and paper towel rolls, plastic eggs, paper cups, foam balls, empty plastic bottles, etc.)

1. First, decide what object you would like to make, and find or build a mold that you can use as a base. If the shape is to be removed from the papier mâché after drying, cover it with petroleum jelly to make it easier to remove.

2. Now, dilute two parts of white household glue with one part water in a plastic cup.

3. Tear several sheets of newspaper into small pieces. Put them in a bowl and moisten them with water.

4. Now cover your mold with pieces of damp paper, overlapping them as you go. Using a big paint brush, brush the layer with your diluted glue.

5. Continue building layer upon layer until the object is of desired thickness. You can "sculpt" your object by making the layers thicker in some places to form the desired shape. If you intend to remove the object from the mold, be sure not to close up the opening, or you will not be able to remove the mold.

6. Set your object on a cookie sheet lined with waxed paper or plastic wrap. Allow object to dry naturally away from direct heat.

7. Once your object is completely dry, you may remove it from the mold if desired. Now decorate your object using acrylic paints, glitter, tissue paper, ribbon, yarn, or any other material. Have fun!

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