Paper Mache / Papier Mache

kids techniques and projects

Paper mache or papier mache, literally means ‘chewed paper’ in French although the art did not originate in France. Papier mache was actually first conceived in China dating back as far as the times of Christ!

paper mache techniques for kids

As well as being so inexpensive and simple you can make an amazing range of objects using paper- mache.

Masks, mobiles, puppets, decorations, jewellery, figurines and pinatas are just a start. Once your kids have a grasp of the technique you will see that the possibilities are virtually endless.

There are two main methods used in paper mache; pulping and layering.

Pulping involves tearing small pieces of paper and soaking them in water until they disintegrate. The paper is then mashed into a pulp, drained and squeezed before being mixed with glue. We have a couple of paper mache recipes.

Layering is sticking down strips of torn paper. This is the method most used with young children as it is the most straight forward.

Getting started with Papier mache

  • Paper– First and foremost! The best thing about paper-mache is that you can use just about any paper! The best paper for layering is newspaper because it is so thin. The layers bond well and it gives a smooth finish.
  • Glues– The three types of glue used for papier mache are; wallpaper paste, which is purchased in powdered form and made up as required, a PVA mix, or flour paste. The PVA mix is stronger but can stain clothes and carpets so care is required. The alternative for younger children is to use the flour paste as glue. You can make it easily yourself. For the glue and paper mache recipes click here
  • Petroleum Jelly– needed to grease moulds, just like lining a cake tin, so that the shape can be easily removed.
  • Plasticine– for modelling three dimensional items like heads and animal figurines.
  • Poster Paint– for finishing off pieces. Check that you are using a non-toxic brand, same for your glues and any clear gloss varnishes.

Now that you are armed with the basics it is time to find a plastic sheet to cover your floor or table surface and get down and dirty!

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