Step 1: Mixing the mix
Flour, salt and luke warm water from your kitchen.
and a mixing bowl
(basic paste recipe - ratio of 1/2 cup of flour, large spoonful of salt to 1 cup of warm water)
Put the flour and salt into the bowl and gradually add luke warm water and mix with your hands until you have a smooth paste that is neither lumpy or watery. It should be like a thick, creamy soup. If you line your bowl with an empty plastic grocery bag you will be able to contain the mess and throw the bag away when you are finished.
By the way, the salt helps your finished creation from going mouldy inside.
Step 2: Newspapers are best
Step 3: Next
When I have my "form", this is when I start covering the whole thing with the paste and paper. You can apply the paste on a brush or a sponge, or with your fingers, until you have covered the surface of whatever form you have moulded with your paper. You will have to cover the form with at least three or four layers of paste and paper to make it nice and strong. You must also let the form dry before adding each additional coat. Be generous with the paste. Each strip of paper should be covered so they will all stick together. You can use all sorts of things for your basic form, for example blown up balloons, old tissue boxes, shoe boxes, wiffle balls - anything that is already the shape you want to make. For other forms use plastic grocery bags and masking tape and become a sculptor!
In the picture you will see one of the loons (that I love to make) covered with several layers of paste and paper. Also a giant ice cream cone that was made for a church event.
When moulding over something like a salad bowl you need to grease the surface of the bowl with vaseline first so that the paper mache is easier to remove in one piece when it is dry.
When working on small items or tricky areas where parts join together, use narrow, short strips of your newspaper.
Step 4: Finishing off and painting
In summer the form can be placed in the sun to dry. Be warned, do not leave it out overnight, as the smell of the flour can attract critters. I had the throat of one of my loons torn out one night by something or other - I am sure whatever it was did not appreciate the mouthful of newspaper and plastic grocery bag that it managed to get!
Step 5: Examples
For your first project I would suggest something round (like my pumpkin) as it is very easy to make. .
Whatever you decide to make the main thing is to have fun.