Papier mache: tips for beginners

Posted by12.01.2018

Crafts made from papier-mâché are considered to be among the most popular. It is very easy to work with this soft and plastic mass, which means that the accessories from it are very different. Papier-mâché traditionally makes dolls and masks, various theatrical props and models, various toys, decorations and even some pieces of furniture.

papier mache skull

All art schools love this material and traditionally conduct training to work with it. Both children and adults are happy to learn this technique. Even professional sculptors do not neglect the work with papier-mâché, because this is a kind of working out of future images.

papier-mâché masks

A bit of history

Papier-mache - it sounds in French, but the art of creating various accessories from several layers of thin paper did not originate in Europe. The “inventors” of the papier-mâché technique are the Chinese. A few thousand years ago, they learned how to make clothes from paper and then strong armor for their warriors.

Later, this art was mastered by the inhabitants of other Eastern countries.At the same time, most products began to be covered with a special water-repellent compound, which, moreover, added strength to them. So people learned to make armor, ritual masks, various ceremonial paraphernalia.

Art interested in Europe. Interestingly, enterprising Westerners quickly guessed that papier-mâché can be used to create various fakes, which from afar can be taken for real. So, for example, appeared sham stucco.

papier mache chandelier

Today this material is actively used in the theater and cinema. Most of the scenery is made of papier-mâché.

Techniques for working with papier-mâché

Gluing small pieces on the finished form in several layers

This technique is very convenient for making various masks and complex shapes. Most often it is used in cases where an exact copy of a particular item is needed. However, its disadvantage is that the pasted object is often tightly locked under a strong layer of paper, and the craft itself becomes heavier (this is not always convenient).

papier mache cow

Mixing paper and paste with the subsequent manufacture of handicrafts

This is useful in cases where it is necessary to make a simple figure. As a rule, these are dolls and various toys. It is convenient to work with the mass, because it “grasps” gradually, which means that there is time to correct inaccuracies and remove irregularities.

papier mache do it yourself

How to make a lot of papier-mache with your own hands?

If everything is clear with the first method (you only need to weld a paste or take the PVA and stick the paper in several layers), then with the papier-mâché kneading using the second method, certain difficulties may arise.

To knead the "dough" correctly, you need to prepare a container with warm water. We soak soft cardboard in it (egg packaging is great), newspapers or toilet paper. Wait until the material softens. If necessary, it is possible from time to time to warm up the bowl on the stove so that the water does not cool.

When the paper is sodden, scroll with a mixer or grind it in a blender. Then glue is gradually added to the mass. It must be mixed until the substance ceases to adhere to the hands.

There is an alternative option. But it works only with toilet paper, as it is thin and lends itself well to grinding.


More detailed option in this video instruction.

Tips for beginners

  • If you use the second method of mixing papier-mâché, do not make too much material until you are sure that you have found your “perfect formula”. Glue and paper quality solve a lot.
  • Whatever technique you choose, it is better to dry each layer. Very convenient to use a hairdryer.
  • The number of layers depends on the type of papier-mâché crafts selected. However, it is worth considering that doing less than 4-5 layers is impractical.
  • When the product is finished, it must be dried within a day - this is the minimum period. For large handicrafts, the number of days for drying can increase to 3-4.
  • The finished product is usually coated with paint. You can make it monophonic. In addition, the unusual painting of papier-mâché also looks beautiful (the work of Ekaterina Osipovich). You can make fancy curls or mosaic. Recently, painting crafts with various coloring sprays has become very popular - it is convenient and practical.
  • Decorating crafts from papier-mâché can be stones and beads. You can also glitter sequins, sequins, fabric trim, etc.
  • Your creations can be covered and varnish.This will add durability and strength. In addition, the product will be easier to wipe from dust.

papier mache fruit

Examples and ideas for inspiration.

papier mache giraffe

papier mache figurines

papier mache ball

papier mache ball

papier-mâché snowman

papier-mâché dishes

Working with papier-mache does not require special skills. Kneading a mixture of paper and glue is quite simple, and it is not difficult to fashion simple shapes. If you are going to do this for the first time, start with the usual wrapping of objects with thin pieces of paper or sculpt any simple figure (for example, a snowman or an apple) from the finished mass.

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