In this blog post on easy DIY craft projects, I am going to show you a way how to make crafting materials yourself, and that is paper Mâché art (aka papier Mâché).
Because sometimes, it is just very handy to use something that you have already in your house, or there is just no crafting store in the neighborhood.
Why would I want to talk about this regarding our hobby you might wonder?
Well, paper Mâché is used for miniature dioramas as well, for example, and lots of other things.
Let’s dive deeper into these right now:
Paper Mache or aka papier mache– a general oversight
A little bit of history.
Despite its French name, paper mâché is not a French invention, simply because paper was invented in China in the 2nd century AD.
Paper replaced the fibers of the papyrus plant only at the end of the 10th century.
Papier-mâché was used in France in the 16th century (for dolls’ heads), but it wasn’t until the 17th century that French craftsmen started to get interested in this material to use it commercially.
So why was it called papier maché then? Simply because French women used to buy paper that was thrown away from publishers and bookbinders and processed it by chewing it. Hence it got literally translated from “chewed paper“. 🙂
What Is Papier-mâché now?
Nowadays, paper-mâché is a simple mix of paper and glue. And no, you don’t need to chew it anymore lol, it has become one of the multiple easy DIY craft projects out there!
It can be used in 3 different categories:
- Work with the paper in layers
- Work with pulp
- a combination of those 2
It is used to make a whole bunch of things, like masks, ornaments, decoration pieces, bowls, dioramas, and paper dolls.
Take a look at these dolls on Etsy with a Halloween theme, for example, they look cute to me 🙂
How strong or water-resistant it gets, depends on which glue you are going to use.
When it is completely dry, you can easily paint it so you can add any kind of colors to your masterpiece.
How to make Paper Mache DIY?
These are the supplies that you need:
1. The first thing you need is glue.
- You can use a very cheap glue: wallpaper glue. Very little of this glue is needed. To get sufficient strength, however, you must use several layers of paper.
- Make your own glue with flour and water. You need to boil 5 cups of water.
Then mix 1/4 th cup of sifted flour with 1 cup of cold water.
Mix this well until there are no more pieces of flour left. Add this mixture to the boiled water.
Let it simmer for about three minutes while regularly stirring until it thickens.
It is better to let it cool off before using the mixture.
If you want thicker glue, use 1 cup of flour and 3 cups of water instead.
- Also using PVA glue is possible, this is a white household glue. Or even wood glue. This kind of glue is stronger than wallpaper glue or selfmade glue from flour and water. This means that it is possible to work with thinner layers of paper. This glue can be thinned with water though, if necessary.
2. The second thing you need is of course: paper.
Most of the time, newspaper is used for paper mâché, but there are other possibilities:
- copy paper
- colored paper
- rice paper
- crepe paper
- tissue paper
- wrapping paper
- egg cartons
- toilet paper
Any kind of paper can have different color effects, depending on the fact if they have a color or not.
3. A bowl or a large container.
This would speak for itself I would guess 😉
4. A surface where you are going to work on.
Euh, yes, sure 🙂
5. A Brush
How to prepare the paper mache?
1. Prepare the surface where you will work on.
Working with paper mâché can get messy! So it’s better to add newspaper on a table that you would like to keep clean.
2. Tear the (news)paper.
Depending on the category, this can be done in 2 different ways:
- The method with layers of paper:
Do not ever use scissors, as you will more clearly see the edges once a piece is done. For layering, tear the paper into small, but long strips.
- The method to make pulp:
Paper-mâché pulp is made by shredding newspaper and soaking it, so then it falls apart. (see below to see how to do this).
3. Mix everything together.
- For the method where you apply paper mâché in layers, of course, you don’t need to mix anything.
You just cover the strips with glue and then you apply them straight to a basic form.
- For the pulp:
– put the shredded pieces of paper in water and soak it overnight
– put them in a large bowl and fill it up with water
– boil it for a minimum of 30 minutes to loosen up the fiber
– let this cool off a bit and use a whisk until it becomes pulp
– let the mixture drain in a colander and squeeze out the water with your hands as much as possible. The mixture shouldn’t be to wet but not to dry either.
– Put it in a bowl and let it cool off some more
– add 3 spoons of wallpaper glue (or other glues as described above). If it feels to tough, add some water or add some more glue.
The pulp should now feel like clay and is ready to be used.
If you are still in doubt about this, then please watch the video below, she made it very clear and fun! 🙂 :
How to make your papier mache art and miniatures?
Again, 2 different methods can be used:
- When using the layers technique, just apply the strips of paper to a surface, like a balloon or a molded figure. Do not apply more than 3 layers at a time, because then the drying will take too long.
Use your fingers to smoothen out the paper and thus get all the bumps out. Because after all, I would think that you want to paint it afterward, and when it’s smooth that makes it easier :-).
Put the first strip horizontally, the second vertically, and so on..
When the piece is done, and you had it dried for a few days at the least in a safe place, you can now remove the balloon or other base and paint it.
- If you want to apply paper pulp, it can be harder to handle and more vulnerable.
But on the other hand, it can have a very nice structured effect for making miniature floors and even stone dollhouse walls, for example, by using egg cartons in the pulp!
You will need to experiment with the pulp, so that you can have different kinds of textures on your object. It can be molded into almost any kind of shape and it is very light and yet strong.
Beware though that pieces made with pulp take a longer time to dry than by using the layers method.
How to add more intricate details for paper mache miniatures?
To create miniatures with paper mache there are a few things to consider that you can either use or create miniature art in a different way with this type of materials.
Here are some suggestions for materials and techniques!
- Paper Mache Clay:
Instead of using traditional paper strips, you can create a paper mache clay by mixing shredded paper, white glue, and water.
This clay-like mixture allows for finer sculpting and can hold more intricate details. You can sculpt small features like facial expressions, delicate textures, and finer lines using this method.
- Sculpting Tools: Invest in a set of sculpting tools or use common household items like toothpicks, wooden sticks, or the back end of a paintbrush to add intricate details.
These tools can help you shape and carve the paper mache to create textures, patterns, and fine lines.
- Embedding Objects: Consider embedding small objects or materials to add realistic details.
For example, you can use beads, buttons, wires, or even tiny fabric pieces to create jewelry, buttons, or other small decorations.
- Papier Collé: Papier collé is a technique where you glue small pieces of colored or patterned paper onto the surface of your miniature.
This can be used to create intricate designs, and patterns, or even simulate clothing textures.
- Painting Details: After the paper mache has dried, use acrylic paints and fine paintbrushes to add detailed features like eyes, eyebrows, lips, and other facial features.
You can also use different paint colors to highlight textures and bring out intricate details.
There is a painting tutorial on how to paint miniatures on my blog.
My Final Conclusion
I hope that you enjoyed this blog post on one of the multiple easy DIY craft projects: how to make paper mâché and how to apply it. Look out for more easy DIY craft projects in the near future!
If you have any questions on the topic or if you would just like to chat with me, then please leave a comment below or join me on my Facebook group.
I wish you happy crafting!
PS. If you would like to know who made the large paper mâché cat in the main picture (cute, no?), it is made by TheSecretSquirrelLyn
My name is Lizzy, and I am an amateur miniaturist obsessed with everything in the dollhouse and miniature world, ever since I was a teenager.
I love to write as well about all things happening in the miniature world, hence the reason why I created this blog!
I wish you happy reading and crafting!