Introduction: How to Make a Papier Mache Side Table


Imagine a land where side tables were outlawed. There are few who will stand up and resist such a dark regime that oppresses innocent floor space... it is up to the few, to oppose this great wave of darkness and clutter! Come join the resistance, begin the fight, recycle, reuse and make a papier mache side table.

Step 1: Materials & Design

You will need...

A design: This design just happened as I went along, the dimensions came from marks on a length of wood I used as a ruler (that's why they have no rhyme or reason, sorry). As long as you are consistent with the basic dimensions, your table should look great. I have included my dimensions just in case you want to make an exact replica.

For the side table structure:
Cardboard (for the basic structure of the table)
Duct tape, scissors and marker pen
Lots of scrap paper (for the papier mache)
Cornstarch (or cornflour), water, measures and a bowl

For painting and distressing:
A few colours of paint (black, grey green and metallic gold)
A wax candle (to help with distressing)
A sharp edged tool (like a knife to help remove paint from edges)
A little paint remover (to help create a crinkly distressed look)
A brush and cloth (to apply paint)

Step 2: Mark & Cut Out Pieces

Mark out the sides and shelf/back piece with your marker pen. Using your scissors, cut out the side pieces and shelf/back piece and score along any lines that will need to be folded.

Step 3: Tape Shelf/Back to Sides

Using duct tape, attach the shelf/back piece to the sides. First tape the tabs in place, then cover the remaining joints with tape.

Step 4: Construct the Table Top

Using additional pieces of card, construct the side table's top. I initially used two layers of card taped together, but then decided to add a third for strength. Attach to the base by taping around the edges (the back of the top should be flush with the base's).

Step 5: Cover All Edges With Duct Tape

To strengthen the edges of the cardboard, hem or cover them with duct tape.

Step 6: Construct Facade & Attach

Mark and cut out the facade from a piece of card. The facade helps with the structure's stability and also makes it look more solid from the front. Attach to the front using duct tape.

Step 7: Prepare Papier Mache Mixture

Mix between 2-4 tablespoons of cornstarch (or cornflour) with as much water to make a thick mixture. Add 1 litre of boiling water and mix well. If you add more cornstarch, you will get a harder (and slightly more textured) finish.

Step 8: Cover Table With Papier Mache

Tear lots of pieces of scrap paper into thin strips. Immerse strip and wipe off excess liquid with your fingers. Strip by strip, slowly wrap the entire table with your papier mache mixture. Perhaps, to prevent the cardboard from becoming too damp, you could wrap a panel at a time, allowing to dry before continuing.

Step 9: Paint & Distress

There are many ways to gain a distressed paint look. Some people use many different coats of water based paint and with sanding edges and corners you can achieve a weathered and antique looking finish.

For this project I decided to go for a metallic distressed look. First paint the table with a dark colour (I used an oil based black). Next, you can rub a wax candle along the edges to help the next layer of paint to be removed without removing the first. When applying the second layer (I used an oil based grey/green), I added a little paint remover to the mixture to encourage a crackling texture in places. Don't worry about drips and an uneven finish, that's what we want. After the second layer is dry you can remove parts some of the paint (mostly along edges/corners) with a sharp edged tool. Even if your second layer is still a little sticky, you can still distress the finish by being a little rough with it.

Step 10: Finishing Touch of Gold

Finally, take a cloth with metallic gold paint on it and rub over the entire surface. You will notice that the edges, corners and imperfections will naturally gain more gold than the smoother surfaces. This gives the table a fantastic metallic distressed appearance.

Step 11: Side Tables for All

Papier mache side tables are light, stable, versatile and can really help decorate a home. Join the fight against clutter... reclaim your floor space with this simple paper side table.