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Tools and Materials for Paper Mache
Paper Mache Class
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Lesson 2: Tools and Materials for Paper Mache
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While paper mache can mostly be made with materials you already have around the house, getting a few specific supplies will really take your sculpting game to the next level. Here's what I'll be using in this class:

Tools:

Materials:

Optional Tools and Materials:


Know Your Tools and Materials

One of the great things about paper mache as a medium is that it is fairly versatile. You can use a lot of variations of the standard materials to get fairly similar results so sometimes if you don't have exactly the right things on hand, it's ok. Here's a little more info about how we'll be using the tools and materials on our list.

Paper: We'll be trying out three different kinds of paper in this class: newspaper, floral tissue paper and crepe paper, but there are other options.

Newspaper is the most commonly used paper for paper mache. It is great for creating sturdy opaque bases. We'll be using it to make our pinata and the base for our mask. Other papers will also work for this purpose. Some people like to use blue shop towels because they are very soft and absorbent, but also strong, and blank newsprint is great if you want a blank base that is easy to paint over.

The type of tissue paper you can use for paper mache is the kind used to wrap flowers. This kind of paper is both translucent and fairly strong, so it is great if you are trying to create a skin that lets light through. Don't try to use the kind you wrap presents with, it will fall apart! You could also use kite paper for these kinds of projects.

Crepe paper doesn't work well for actual paper mache because it falls apart too easily, but it is a great paper for decorating pinatas and other creations as it can be glued on top of existing paper mache pieces really easily.

Paste Materials: Different paper mache artists swear by different kinds of paper mache paste. In this class we'll be using two: flour and water and glue and water.

Flour and water is the classic material for paper mache paste because it is super simple and effective. You need to use white flour to get the most effective paste, whole wheat four doesn't work as well, and gluten free won't be sticky enough. Flour paste does have slightly more of a tendency to rot than glue, dries more slowly and doesn't dry perfectly clear, but it still works great.

Glue paste tends to be stronger and more durable, and it also dries clear so it it is great to use if you want to create something translucent like a lamp. Other options similar to glue are wallpaper paste and Mod Podge.

Materials to Make Clay: paper mache clay can be made with quite a few combinations of materials.

In this class we'll be using toilet paper, joint compound, glue and flour with a little glycerine to make our clay. This clay will turn out fairly smooth and dry very hard.

You can also make a rougher, less hard clay with just toilet paper and glue or water and flour, or buy several different store bought pre-made clays like CelluClay and Creative Paperclay.

Electric Tools: To make paper mache paste and clay it's helpful to have some electric mixing tools.

Immersion blender - while not essential, an immersion blender will help you make a really smooth flour and water paste.

Hand mixer - to make your own paper mache clay it's useful to have a electric hand mixer. This will let you create a really smooth, not chunky clay, but if you don't have one, you can also mix with your hands.

Cutting Tools:

Scissors - you'll need these to cut paper, and deconstruct your dry paper mache forms.

Craft knife - you'll use this to cut into your dry paper forms to remove them from their bases and create details.

Containers:

Mixing bowls - you'll need some large and medium mixing bowls that you don't care about for mixing your paste and clay. It can get messy.

Measuring cups and spoons - while none of the paper mache recipes really require exact measurements, it helps to have some measuring tools to give you a good estimate.

Airtight container or ziplock bag - when you have excess paste or clay, you'll need to keep it in an airtight container in the fridge so it won't mold

Armatures: when you are making something with paper mache, you usually need something to paper mache over, there are a lot of options for these armatures depending on what you are creating.

Balloons - we'll be using a balloon as an armature for our basic piñata shape, but balloons are great armatures for a lot of projects!

Cardboard - cardboard is a great material for creating simple forms that can be covered with paper mache. We'll use both corrugated cardboard and thinner cereal box cardboard to make the details of our piñata.

Wire sculpting mesh - this mesh that can be bought in art supply stores is great for making bases for things like masks.

Found objects for creating armatures - other objects, like dishes, containers etc, can be great for casting over to create paper mache shapes. We'll use some bowls and a thermos to create our lampshades.

Masking tape - essential for assembling paper and cardboard armatures.

Saran wrap - necessary to cover objects you are casting over so you can remove your paper mache later.

Painting and Smoothing Materials:

Sandpaper -use to smooth your paper mache clay or gesso once it's dry creating nice finishes on your projects.

Paint brushes - for painting your paper mache project and applying strips of tissue paper and crepe paper with glue.

Acrylic paint - the best paint for paper mache projects.

Gesso or Flexbond primer - used to prime and smooth projects before painting.


Quiz

{
    "id": "quiz-1",
    "question": "Which kind of paper is not good for paper mache?",
    "answers": [
        {
            "title": "Glossy magazine paper",
            "correct": true
        },
        {
            "title": "Newsprint",
            "correct": false
        },
{
            "title": "Floral tissue paper",
            "correct": false
        }
    ],
    "correctNotice": "That's right, glossy magazine paper does not absorb water well enough to be good for paper mache.",
    "incorrectNotice": "Not quite, try again"
}
{
    "id": "quiz-2",
    "question": "The tools and and materials you need for paper mache are really expensive.",
    "answers": [
        {
            "title": "false",
            "correct": true
        },
        {
            "title": "true",
            "correct": false
        }
    ],
    "correctNotice": "You're right! Paper Mache is really a very inexpensive hobby!",
    "incorrectNotice": "Not quite, try again"
}
{
    "id": "quiz-3",
    "question": "An armature is:",
    "answers": [
        {
            "title": "A vehicle used to transport soldiers",
            "correct": false
        },
        {
            "title": "A base structure that you paper mache over",
            "correct": true
        },
{
            "title": "A weird animal from Australia",
            "correct": false
        }
    ],
    "correctNotice": "Yes!",
    "incorrectNotice": "Are you sure? Try again!"
}

What's Next?

Now that you know what you will need to create the projects in this class, gather your supplies and let's get messy! In the next lesson we'll learn how to make an easy glue and water paste and then use it to paper mache over a simple armature to create a lovely lamp shade or bowl.

CLASS PROJECT

Share a photo of your finished project with the class!

Nice work! You've completed the class project