Paper mache crafts are one of my favourite ways to make affordable decorations for my home.
One of the best things about paper mache projects is that there is no need to make a memorable trip to the craft store, as you will most likely have what you need at home.
For most projects, that is just an old newspaper and some white glue. You don’t need glue; you can use a flour and water mixture instead.
I bet your first paper mache craft was in school; mine certainly was. It was probably making a volcano in science or masks in drama.
This craft is so versatile it’s not just for kids, but as you can see from this list of ideas, it can also be an excellent craft for adults.
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Adult Paper Mache Tips & Techniques
1. What are the Different Types of Paper Mache?
There are two main types of paper mache.
- The first is pulp paper mache which involves making the paper into a kind of paper clay. This usually involves breaking down the paper fibres into small pieces using lots of hot water, a blender, and glue. More fine paper clay can be made with toilet paper.
- The second involves tearing or cutting the paper into strips and layering it using a glue mixture, usually over a mould or armature.
The pulp method is popular when making sculptures and intricate paper mache creations, such as model making. The paper layering method is excellent for lighter hollow paper mache creations and is less messy.
You can buy an instant paper mache mix, which takes all the hard work of making your paper mache pulp from scrap.
Most adult paper mache crafts listed below use the second layer paper mache technique.
2. What Glue To Use?
Some people use a flour and water mixture as paper mache glue. Whereas this has the advantage of being very cheap and readily available, there are some downsides to using this mixture. These are that flour paste is white when dry and not clear. Flour is an organic material that can rot and go mouldy over time.
The best glue for paper mache is white-based glue, such as PVA glue, wood glue, or school glue. A thin glue also works well as it helps wet the paper and makes it easier to shape and mould. I use a 50/50 mixture of white glue and water with paper mache crafts for the home.
3. What Paper To Use?
For most paper mache crafts, I use newspapers. Newspapers are free and readily available material. The paper is thin and absorbs water quickly; it’s suitable for paper mache.
For very fine delicate paper mache projects, tissue paper is an excellent paper to use. But the downside is that because it is so thin, you will need to use more layers than with newspaper. And if you used coloured tissue paper, there is no need to paint your creation afterwards.
Tissue paper is used for the final layer to create a smoother top coat ready for finishing.
Decorative papers, such as gift wraps, printed napkins, and crepe paper, can be used to add that final finish to adult paper mache crafts.
Toilet paper is an excellent alternative to a newspaper when making pulp paper mache clay.
(Some fabrics can be used to make models in a similar way to paper mache, such as this denim fruit bowl)
4. Molds And Armatures
Many household objects can be used as moulds for adult paper mache crafts. These include things like bowls, plates, and cups. What mould you use is determined by the final shape you want. Balloons are very handy for making rounded paper mache shapes.
With these moulds, a lubricant will be needed. This is to make sure the mould can be easily removed. Vaseline is a popular lubricant to use. Cling film (plastic wrap) can also be used, which sometimes leaves creases in the paper mache.
Often if you use water instead of glue with the first paper layer, this is enough for it to come away easily from the mould.
The mould can become part of the final paper mache craft. These are known as armatures. They can be made with wire mesh, cardboard, duct tape, plastic bottles, or screwed-up paper/plastic bag bowls.
These armatures add shape and bulk to the projects. The paper mache is pasted over the top of the armature structures.
5. Finishing Off Paper Mache Crafts
A light sanding can be applied to the dried paper mache craft to smooth any rough edges before painting.
Another top tip for smoothing the paper mache is applying a Polyfilla layer. It’s the stuff you buy in DIY stores to smooth cracks on walls before painting.
A base coat of white emulsion paint or Gesso is good to use before painting with acrylic-coloured paint. Or your final coat may be decoupage with paper napkins or other decorative papers.
When all the paint is dry, apply at least two topcoats of a suitable varnish to protect your paper mache creation.
The Paper Mache Home Decor Crafts
The following is a fun collection of adult paper mache crafts to decorate your home. All are easy and affordable crafts suitable for all, and hopefully, you will find a project to inspire you.
The pulp paper mache you can mould is like air dry clay. Please look at these air dry clay project ideas; they might inspire your paper mache crafts.
There are many other crafts from waste materials, such as newspapers.