Paper Mache




About: My name is Eric. I like to run, hike, climb, be outside, build stuff, lately design furniture. I don't read a whole lot, however, I do enjoy reading. I'm a simple kid, it doesn't take much to keep me enterta...

Paper mache! Whether you're making a Halloween mask or an Instructables Robot, paper mache is the way to go. The possibilities are endless and you are only limited by your imagination. Paper mache is a simple process that has no right or wrong way, it allows you to be very creative. Through this instuctable I will cover a few different techniques used in the art of paper mache.


Step 1: Gather Supplies...

You should be able to find all of the necessary supplies around your house. Depending on how creative you want to get you may need to make a trip to your local craft store to decorate your creation!

First you will need to make a form. You can use almost anything for a form, but here are some suggestions:
-Cardboard (cereal boxes, or corrugated)
-Plastic bags
-Toilet paper/ paper towel tubes
-Masking tape

Next you need to paper mache your form. So what do you use?
-Brown paper towels (optional)
-Warm water
-Paper mache paste mix (in place of flour, salt, and water.)

Tools you will need:
-Mixing bowl/ milk jug
-Smaller bowl/ cereal bowl
-X-acto knife
-Paint brush

After you're all done you need to decorate you paper mache. Get creative, use paint or even glitter.

Step 2: Create a Form

You can use many different objects as forms. If making a mask, balloons work well. Bunched up paper and masking tape also works well and allows you to do more free forming. I used corrugated cardboard, toilet paper tubes, construction paper, and masking tape to make my form. I chose to make an instructables robot. I referred to the Instructables Robot -- Paper Model instructable written by =SMART= when making this design. Thanks =SMART= !

Step 3: Tear Paper Strips

I have found that newspaper works best. Some people like to use brown paper towels for a smoother final layer. If you have access to brown papertowels, I'd say go for it. If not, it's not a big deal... Tear your paper into strips about one inch by six inches. If your strips are too wide you might get wrinkles and not a completely smooth surface.

Step 4: Mix Paste

This is where things can begin to get messy, so you may want to lay down some paper or plastic. Don't feel like laying anything down? Don't worry about it, this paste is very easy to clean up. Based on how much paste you make will determine the size of mixing bowl you need. If you choose, you may mix your paste in a milk jug. I like to shake my paste in a milk jug for easy clean up and storage. Either a half gallon or gallon jug will work fine. When making your paste, mix two parts warm water to one part flour. Adding a couple tablespoons of salt to your mix will prevent mould growth. Your paste should be a slurry with no clumps or bumps. A consistency of glue is good, you don't want it to be as thick as your typical paste. Adjust mixture until you find what works best for you. If you do not like this paste, experiment a little. Some use wallpaper paste, while others like watered down elmers glue.

For this project I used a non-wheat based paper mache paste. Later in this instuctable you will see that it is a clear paste. It works well, if you're at the craft store, pick some up.

Below are pictures of do it yourself paper mache paste.

Step 5: Begin the Process

So now it's game time, your strips are all torn up and your paste is mixed. Begin by pouring a little bit of paste into a bowl. Dip one strip of paper into the paste. Then slide the paper between your fingers to remove the excess paste. Once this is done you can begin putting the strips on your form. After laying each strip, use your fingers to smooth out any wrinkles or bubbles. Overlap your strips parallel or cross-hatched; this will make for a stronger final piece.

Step 6: Decorate!

Before painting it is nice to have an opaque surface to work on. I started off by sponging on two coats of white gesso. By doing this your final coats will cover much better. Have fun, get creative. Use acrylics, glitter, wire, string, or whatever else you may need to complete your masterpiece.

Step 7: Tips and Tricks

Here are a few helpful pointers:
-You may want to cover your workspace for easy clean-up.
-Make sure the piece is completely dry before doing the next layer.
-Allow the piece to dry very well before painting.
-Spray the piece with clear spray paint after is done to make it more durable.
-Overlap the newspaper strips for strength.
-Tear the strips, DO NOT cut them. This helps them lay flatter.

For more information check out these sites:

Thanks for checking out my instructable. Best of luck in your paper mache venture! If you have any questions, ask away and I'll be more than happy to try to help you out.

First Prize in the
Burning Questions: Round 7



    • Colors of the Rainbow Contest

      Colors of the Rainbow Contest
    • Gardening Contest

      Gardening Contest
    • Classroom Science Contest

      Classroom Science Contest

    16 Discussions


    Question 9 months ago on Introduction

    If you use the flour based paste, is the finished dried build grainy?

    acereneEarthy Eric

    Reply 3 years ago

    In the US, it's always been "paper mache."


    9 years ago on Introduction

    One thing I have found to make the Paper Mache mixture is to use a bit of elmers glue. It tends to make things stick to gether a little better also makes it a bit smother. Just from my experience.


    9 years ago on Step 6

    This is the nicest Instructable I've read all year! Hooray for you Earthy Eric!


    9 years ago on Introduction

    can you put this on your face if you want to make a mask(leaving holes to breathe of course)?

    1 reply
    Earthy Ericwiljo94

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I'm not a 100% sure. It might be worth a shot. You would probably have to cover the face of whoever you plan on casting in petroleum jelly so the paper mache wouldn't stick. I'm not sure how well it would out though, paper mache takes a while to dry. Paper mache might not be the best route. If you give it a try, let me know, I'd be interested in how it comes out.


    9 years ago on Introduction

    I read in a book about prop making, that you could lay up paper mache in a plaster mold, kinda like doing fibreglass. Has anybody tried that? I think it would work great for making prototypes and stuff.

    2 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Indeed, paper strips, if very very small, can be laid in an unsealed plaster mold, to create relatively detailed casts. The "secret" is to lay a few layers of wet toilet paper at first, until the plaster cannot be seen. Make sure you orverlap on the edges of the mold ( the mold must have 2 inches of flat sides, this prevents shrinkage and warping of the paper) This becomes both the detail layer, and the release. Then you gently paint a layer of slightly diluted white glue inside that layer, to hold it down. When dry, apply paper strips as usual. I recommend coffee filters and outdoor carpenter's glue, 6 layers minimum (I use 8 to 10). Let dry in front of a fan, at lowest setting, and in 8 hours or less you'll have something that can be set enough to remove from the mold, but still flexible (to avoid breakage).

    I make puppets from this method, and thet can be violently thrown against a wall, they'll just bounce back, unharmed. As long as it's not cold temperature (any cured pva glue becomes brittle with cold, gets back to full strength at comfortable temperature)

    My processes are described in my Laboratory blog.
    Alas, as of now, I have not written an article about the plaster casting, though I have one in the works about making a hot glue mold, and the same casting paper mache in it. Shall complete in a few months. Too booked for now.

    In the meantime, you can see my results on my portfolio (specifically for plaster casts, see the Polichinelle and Jerome 2 glove puppets.

    Earthy Ericheathbar64

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I've never tried it, I think I might give it a try though. If anyone tries it, post some pictures, it sounds pretty cool.


    10 years ago on Introduction

    Well explained, good pictures, and clever idea and i found this very helpful