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Paper Mache Crafts and Folk Art

Lee is a life long crafts enthusiast and designer of paper crafts, fiber arts and adult coloring pages. Visit her websites (info on profile)

Comical Cat Paper Mache Sculpture

Comical Cat Paper Mache Sculpture

Fabulous Funky Paper Mache Crafts, Decorations, Gifts and Party Props

Learn how to make easy creative paper mache crafts for home, classroom or art gallery! Paper mache (papier mache) is a simple arts and crafts technique we learn in preschool and love through our senior years. Many folk artists all over the world create beautiful decorations, ornaments and gifts made from sculptured and painted papier mache. Made with scrap paper, water and paste, the basic paper mache formula is green and frugal - it's a wonderful way to recycle old newspapers, telephone books and paper bags or clean rags.

You can make paper mache crafts small or large, in simple or complicated shapes. The fun papier mache crafts you can make range from magnets, jewelry, masks and puppets, to holiday decorations, home décor, theatrical props and if you're really ambitious - paper mache furniture.

Learn to make your own paper mache paste recipes for all types of crafts, check out the simple modeling techniques and find great tips and ideas for making your own creative paper mache crafts in this lens.

Paper mache photo credits: patti haskins,

Paper Mache Dragon Parade Float - Giant size papier mache eating the Smithsonian tower

Papier mache parade float dragon

Papier mache parade float dragon

Paper mache dragon float in Washington, DC
Public domain photo from the Commons collection,

Paper Mache Craft Books - Learn to make unique paper mache crafts and gifts

Paper mache and fabric mache are basic crafts we learn as children that we can use as adults and artists.

How to Make Paper Mache Paste - White Glue and Water Simple Paste Recipe

There are several recipes for basic paper mache paste. The simplest paper mache paste is made with white glue and water, as demonstrated in this video.

Paper Mache Goblin

Paper Mache Goblin

Paper mache spooky Halloween decoration

Paper mache spooky Halloween decoration

Home Made Paper Mache Paste

Flour, water, salt

Paper mache crafts use simple materials: recycled newspapers and paste. Any paper mache paste formula you choose from the recipes below will work well with most paper mache crafts. When making paper mache crafts with children it's best to avoid glues made with wallpaper paste or wheat paste because those commercial glues contain chemical additives to prevent mold. Instead, you can make a home-cooked mold-inhibiting kid-friendly paper mache paste from flour, water and salt. Or you can mix kid-safe white glue with water.

Here are a few links to different paper mache paste recipes, starting with the most basic (and kid-friendly) formulas. Store home made paper mache paste in refrigerator, in a covered plastic or glass container. I've kept paper mache paste for up to 4 days in the refrigerator without any spoilage problems.

My Favorite Paper Mache Paste Recipe - I used this "professional grade" home made papier mache paste to make Halloween ghoulish decorations.

Glue and Water - mix 3 parts white glue with 1 part water.

Basic uncooked paper mache paste - mix equal parts of flour and cold water together until smooth and creamy. Store unused paste in the refrigerator or discard after 3 days.

Basic cooked paper mache paste - measure out 5 parts water to 1 part flour. Heat 4 parts water to boiling. Mix remaining 1 part cold water with the flour and stir in 2 Tablespoons salt (mold inhibitor). Mix until all lumps are dissolved. Slowly add the flour, salt and water mixture to the boiling water and stir well to combine. Cook over moderate heat, boiling, for about 3 minutes. Cool. Add a few drops of peppermint or vanilla flavoring if desired. While it is non toxic, please don't eat the paste.

Tinted Paper Mache Paste - great for aged look paper mache, this paste imparts a tea-stained or aged look to your work.

Paper Mache Paste Recipes - a list of various paper mache past formulas compiled at .

Scroll to Continue

How To Make Paper Mache - This tutorial uses Elmer's Glue and water paper mache paste recipe

Paper Mache Crafts - Tips, Tutorials, Techniques for Paper Mache Crafts

These links will take you to pages with creative paper mache crafts you can make.

Papier Mache Bracelets - Art jewelry made from paper mache

Paper mache jewelry by, photo from by smartalexacker

Paper mache jewelry by, photo from by smartalexacker

Papier Mache Craft Tips

Before you start, take note of these paper mache tips

Tips and tricks for working with paper mache.

Paper mache is easy, fun and messy. You'll want to protect work surfaces, floors and clothing so you don't end up with a sticky mess. Here are my tips for working with paper mache.

  • Wear old clothing or a butcher-type apron; roll up sleeves or wear a short sleep shirt.
  • Cover work surface with newspapers or plastic drop cloths. I like to use a trash bag cut open and across the bottom. When your paper mache project is finished you can roll up the mess and throw it into the trash.
  • Wear think plastic or latex gloves when you work with paper mache; your hands will thank you, and if the phone rings while you're working with paper mache you can pull off a glove faster than you can clean paste from your hands.
  • Have a few wet paper towels handy to mop up spills. A bowl of clean water is handy, too.
  • Wet and finger finger-squeegee a few strips at a time and drape them over the edge of your bowl for a minute or so. This lets the paste sink into the paper fibers and makes it flexible.
  • Only apply 3 layers of paper mache at each session; several days of thin layers will yield a stronger form with less chance of mold.

Allow paper mache to dry 12-24 hours or more between pasting sessions.

Make Your Own Paper Mache Clay

Paper mache clay allows you to create sculpted and finely detailed objects. Paper mache clay is often combined with traditional paper mache to add raised features on the smooth paper mache surface. Some artists work solely with paper mache clay to create lightweight sculptures that don't require kiln firing.

Ultimate Paper Mache is a terrific place to find inspirational and creative crafts made with paper mache and paper mache clay. Their web site has a DIY recipe for home made paper mache clay.

NOTE: Home made paper mache clay is not intended for use by children, but you can buy sinple paper mache pulp that's kid-safe for children over 8 years old.

© 2011 Lee Hansen

Let's Get Messy with Paper Mache - Leave a comment or favorite papier mache project tip here!

Carol Morris on June 04, 2016:

Great hub with loads of interesting information. I used to be very into papier mache, but unfortunately I haven't done much for quite some time now. This hub has me wanting to get my papier mache materials out and start creating.

Loraine Brummer from Hartington, Nebraska on September 21, 2014:

Nice to see a familiar face. I've used the Ultimate paper mache clay recipe and love it. Paper mache crafts can be addictive.

miaponzo on November 12, 2012:

I love paper mache! SO FUN! But, it never comes out quite right for me.. don't know what I'm doing wrong.. I need to learn from you!

PaulWinter on June 28, 2012:

I haven't made anything with Paper mache since I was a kid. From your lens I can see it's a really versatile medium.

julieannbrady on April 14, 2012:

My sister is the artist in our family ... I can distinctly remember many a paper mache project of hers when we were in high school. Love the idea of making jewelry items and masks.

KevCooper on February 04, 2012:

Messy it can certainly be, but lots of fun.

entertainmentev on February 01, 2012:

I've been wanting to try this craft for awhile. Thank you for inspiring me to get started!

Eileen from Western Cape , South Africa on January 30, 2012:

Great lens - thanks

klaird on January 06, 2012:

These examples of paper mache crafts are just beautiful. The designs and paintings on the sculptures really make them stand out. I've featured your lens on my "50 Craft Ideas for Adults" page. Great Job!

anonymous on December 08, 2011:

wow. love the art

Virginia Allain from Central Florida on December 07, 2011:

We made a pinata once. It is a messy craft, but fun too.

Mona from Iowa on November 03, 2011:

These are so amazing hard to believe its paper mache.

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