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Papier-mâché ideas: Unleash your creativity

If you’ve always wanted to try crafting with papier-mâché but never actually learnt the basics, this how-to guide on papier-mâché ideas is exactly what you need to get started.

Papier-mâché: What is it?

Papier-mâché, sometimes spelled paper mache, is one of those DIY craft techniques many of us have heard about, but never actually tried. The pulped paper itself – simply strips of paper bonded together by a glue paste – is very easy to make, and once you’ve mastered the basics, the sky really is the limit when it comes to papier-mâché ideas. 

Papier-mâché ideas: The basics

Before you can let your papier-mâché ideas run wild, you need to learn its two basic fundamentals. Fear not, as these are simple to get to grips with.

  • Paper. The first ingredient you’ll need to make papier-mâché is paper. Old newspaper is always the best choice, as it is cheap, porous, flexible and fairly strong.
  • Tear. Once you have your newspaper, tear it into strips, rather than cutting it. Tearing creates a softer edge that enable each strip to blend better into one another when layered on top of each other. Cut strips create a sharp line.

Rather than tearing one strip at a time, you can tear of multiple strips by placing around six to eight newspaper pages on top of each other. Newspaper has a grain that, if you tear with it, will produce nice, straight strips. A width of one inch works well with most projects.

  • Paste. The second ingredient is glue paste. Simple pour some white glue or wood glue into a larger mixing bowl and add water to make it into a more liquid paste that will soak into your newspaper strips. A 2:1 glue to water ratio is ideal.

Papier-mâché ideas with balloons

Now you know how to create your glue paste and paper strips, you’re ready to learn how to create papier-mâché using a balloon as a mold. This can then be used as a basis for papier-mâché ideas for animals, papier-mâché ideas for Halloween, papier-mâché ideas for Christmas and many more.

  1. Prepare. Tear your newspaper strips, mix your glue paste and inflate a balloon.
  2. Soak. Pour your glue paste into a smaller tray or shallow container. Dip a newspaper strip into the paste and let it soak.
  3. Glue. Place the balloon on top of a large bowl or small bucket to prevent it from rolling. Shake any excess paste off the strip and glue it to the side of the balloon. Use your fingers or a paint brush to smooth out the edges of the strip.
  4. Repeat. Glue more strips to the balloon, allowing them to overlap as you proceed. When you’ve covered its entire surface, smooth out any wrinkles with your fingers or a paintbrush.
  5. Layer. Make a second and third layer, each covering the entire surface of the balloon.
  6. Dry. Leave your papier-mâché to dry, either in the bowl or bucket and turning every few hours, or using the knotted end of the balloon to clip it to a clothesline indoors.
  7. Pop. It will take around two to three days for the papier-mâché to completely dry. When it is, take hold of the knotted end of the balloon, use a pin or sharpened pencil to pop it and remove.

Using paint and other accessories, you can now turn your papier-mâché balloon into anything from a hot air balloon or Halloween pumpkin to an Easter bunny or egg. Alternatively, you can place the strips on a sort of skeleton made of wire mesh and create casts for any object you can think of.