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How to Make Paper Mache: Kids’ DIY Edition 

Updated
Get ready for some indestructible paper mache.

Ditch the pasta necklaces! Learning how to make paper mache is one of our favorite projects for the whole family. From simple balloons to paper mache pinatas that’ll be the star of your next party, it’s an all-ages art project.

The best thing about paper mache projects for kids is that you can grab whatever you’ve got at home. Let’s dive into how to make paper mache glue, find the perfect materials, and create a project that’ll last.

Here’s your step-by-step guide to making paper mache art projects.


How to Make Paper Mache

Alright, moms, ready to try your new favorite project? Let’s walk through the basics of how to make paper mache.

What You Need

Before you get started, you’ll want to collect the following:

  • Large container or bowl for mixing.
  • Glue (or flour/ wallpaper paste/ Mod Podge).
  • Paintbrush.
  • Newspaper.
  • Form (balloon, cardboard).

Like any fun project, you can make it yours. Experiment with your paper mache form and keep reading for glue recipes.

Step by Step Paper Mache Instructions

If you’ve got the DIY bug and don’t want to use store-bought glue, here are a few great options.

  • No-Cook Flour Glue: Mix one part of all-purpose flour with two parts water. Blend out the lumps.
  • Strong Paper Mache Paste: For stronger glue, bring one cup of water to a boil. In a separate bowl, add ¼ cup of flour and stir in ¼ cup of water. Whisk, then drizzle your flour-water blend. Keep it at a rolling boil for two minutes. Whisk until it looks like heavy cream.
  • Wallpaper Powder Paper Mache Paste: Want a piece that’ll last? Add two parts wallpaper powder to one part water.

Alright, Master Chef, got your glue ready to go? Here is how to create your artistic masterpiece.

  1. Put down some newspaper or a plastic sheet. Paper mache is messy business, especially with kids!
  2. Start tearing your newspaper into long strips. Any size is fine so go crazy with it, and don’t worry about the scissors. Having textured, torn edges is actually better.
  3. Grab your form. If you’re a newbie, start with a balloon to get the feel. To make it easier to slide out, coat it with cooking oil (or skip if it’s too messy with kids).
  4. Dip your newspaper in the glue blend.
  5. Slide the newspaper between two fingers as you remove it. Gently squeeze out the excess glue so it’s not dripping.
  6. Drape your newspaper over the form and smooth it out. Be sure to massage out any crease or lumps for a smooth finish.
  7. Keep coating the newspaper strips in glue and lay them over your form. To make it stronger, use a criss-cross pattern.
  8. When you’re happy with the shape, leave it to dry.
  9. After it’s totally dry, start painting.
  10. As soon as your paint is dry, you can pop the balloon and pull it out. Knitting needles are handy for grabbing it if you can’t quite grab it.

FAQs About Making Paper Mache

How many of us have ended up with a DIY project fail that looks oh-so-different from the pic online? To make sure yours is picture-perfect, let’s look at those frequently asked questions.

Is Glue or Flour Better for Paper Mache?

If you are looking to create a durable paper mache project, glue is generally better. Flour always has the potential to get moldy or rot, especially if you live in a humid climate.

When you’re doing fun paper mache projects for young kids, flour is safe and easy. For older kids looking for impressive paper mache styles, you might want to upgrade. Try Elmer’s Art Paste, ACTIVA Fast Mache Fast Drying Instant Papier Mache, or resin.

For Paper Mache That Lasts

If you want serious durability, look to resin. You can make your own resin paper mache paste (we love this recipe!).

Can You Use Toilet Paper for Paper Mache?

Yep! Toilet paper is perfect for adding little touches. Do note, however, that it’s made to be absorbent, so you might need extra glue. For a pretty porcelain look, try white glue with toilet paper.

What Paper is Best for Paper Mache?

Luckily for us frugal moms, the cheapest option is actually the best here! Newspapers are incredibly easy to work with and offer good consistency.

If you’re creating a lampshade or hanging piece for the window, colored tissue paper is a great option. Got a bunch of tissue left over from those holiday gift bags? Tissue paper mache is a dream fix!

For a stronger material, many people love blue shop towel paper mache. It’s much stronger than newspapers and good for those bigger and more elaborate projects.

Ultimately, it all comes down to preference. Start with whichever paper you have handy, then start experimenting.

How Long Do You Have to Let Paper Mache Dry?

The general rule of thumb is to leave your paper mache dry for 24 hours. The more layers you add, the longer your dry time.

You’ll also find that different glues and papers change the dry time. When you’re in a humid climate, it may take longer as well.

Ultimately, you can play it by ear but be aware that you can’t create and paint all in one session.

Why Do You Add Salt to Paper Mache?

Some people add salt to paper mache to prevent mold. If you want extra durability, add one ½ tbsp of salt to each cup of flour that you use.

Why Is My Paper Mache Not Hard?

There are a few different reasons why paper mache might not harden. First of all, your glue choice matters. Wallpaper paste and white glue don’t get as hard as flour. Keep in mind that the paper you use as well as the size of your form will affect the hardening process too.

Want a quick fix? Add another layer! For stiff paper mache, you might use up to four layers. Let each layer dry, then keep building until you’re happy with it.


Mastering Paper Mache

Now that you know how to make paper mache, it’s time to get creative! From toilet paper and white glue to comic books and flour paste, the kids can have a blast DIYing it.

The thing that we love the most about paper mache is that it’s totally customizable — and cheaper than an art set! Collect those old paper scraps, grab the glue, and see what your little artists come up with.

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