Papier-Mache is an extremely simple craft that I learnt to do as a young child. It is often taught in art at primary school, and can be done with materials and equipment that you can find just lying around the house. Having said that, it is also one of the messiest crafts you can do. It is sometimes used to make costumes for parties, props and room decorations and it is an incredibly simple technique that you’ll soon find to be extremely useful and that you can apply to many different craft-making situations.
For the technique, you will need:
Some kind of thin paper (newspaper or tissue paper are both good)
Something to build your papier-mache on
Step 1: Mix some PVA glue with water in a tray that is big enough to fit your paper in. As an alternative to this, you can use wallpaper paste glue or can boil the water first with flour in a saucepan to make a glue-like paste this way. Various recipes for this glue can be found online. You’ll also want to lay out some newspaper or a craft mat, since the procedure from here is liable to get messy.
Step 2: Take your paper and tear it into strips of about 6-10 centimetres in width. Using many smaller pieces may make your end product stronger, but it will also take you a lot longer.
Step 3: Take your first piece of paper and pull it through your glue paste in the tray. When it is completely covered in the medium, place it down on your object and smooth it right down over the surface.
Step 4: Repeat this with as much paper as you desire to make the shape you want.
Step 5: Once you have a shape you’re happy with, leave it to dry. How long this stage takes will depend on the size and complexity of the product, but you should be able to tell it is dry when it looks lighter in colour and is hard to the touch.
You may like to use newspaper to build up a shape for your object, and then use tissue paper as the final covering, since it will be more colourful and pretty as an outer layer. Alternatively, you can paint the newspaper at the edge to give it this colour.
When choosing the object for the centre of your work, you can use various different things, such as boxes, and the same ready-made objects used for decoupage. You may wish to use an object you have made yourself, such as a wire sculpture. For this you can shape the wire first into the shape you want, or interweave it to build up a sculpture and then make it into an actual solid object by papier-macheing right across its surface. Many like their creations to stand alone, and so like to use a mould for their project, before releasing it. To do this, a release medium must be used. This can be washing up liquid, cooking oil or Vaseline applied thinly on the surface of your mould object. You can also cover the mould in cling film first and then just pull at this to release the object. Another clever way of using an object to mould your creation is with a balloon. This can be used to mould bowls or head shapes fairly easily. All you need to do is blow up the balloon and then carefully cover as much as you want of it (For a head you’ll want it completely covered with your gluey paper.) Then, once it’s dried, you can pop the balloon with a pin and the force of it imploding on its self will mean it comes straight away from the edges of the actual paper.
This technique is such a useful one to know, as it can be applied to situations in so many other craft styles and is fairly basic to do. Also if you’re looking for a cheap way to spend your time, this will be great, since all that your final product really needs to be made up of is glue and newspaper.
Images from: http://huggerboo.typepad.com/.a/6a0120a5874544970c016301dda1d3970d-800wi, http://www.driftwood-dreams.co.uk/learn_papier_mache/Papier%20Mache%20Workshop%20Gallery/papier-mache-bowl.JPG