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How to Paper Mache: The Kids Paper Mache Edition

Doing home crafts with kids is so much fun. Unfortunately, sometimes your little ones age, ability to focus and dexterity issues can ruin the fun for both of you. I’ve found that some of my favorite crafts I just have to stay away from when I’m with Marko. On the other hand there are a handful of Paper crafts that to my surprise actually worked out.


Paper Mache is one of our new kid-friendly favorites, because it is messy and lets your kid be in charge for once.


You should probably start by assembling your materials.


You will need:


Masking Tape


Base Shapes (This can include anything from toilet paper rolls to ceramic bowls)

Paper Mache Paste

A Large Bowl

Paint & Brushes


It will also come handy to have:

Tissue paper (the kind you use in gift bags)

An oven

Aluminum (If you are using base shapes you want to keep)

Hot Glue and Hot Glue Gun

Lots of patience

Fun Crafting Stuff to glue on your paper mache.


Paper Mache Shapes

Now that you have all that you need and then some, you and your child can decide on what you want to make. The options are limitless. Just Google “Amazing Paper Mache” and see what others have done. Don’t worry, you don’t have to start by making an exact replica of all The Wild Things, but let yourselves be inspired. Marko wanted to make a green pig, so a green pig it is.


Paper Mache Base Molds

I encourage Marko to figure out the shapes we need to create his future piggy. We started out by drawing it out and identifying the shapes and seeing how the come together. Yea, I make everything into a learning experience. It’s probably really lame, but my kid is used to it, thankfully. In the end, it’s up you, the adult, to come up with a plan for your base that will actually work. Obviously, the more advanced the shape of your paper mache the more base components you will need. For cute round animals, a balloon works wonders because you don’t need to retrieve it. We however did not have a balloon at home. We did however have two identical bowls. You can always use an object that you plan on keeping. Just wrap it neatly in aluminum before you starting covering it with paste and paper and will be alright.



Building Up your Paper Mache

Once you have the entire base components figured out, the fun can begin. Cut your paper into strips about 1 inch thick and I do mine about 3 inches long. You can always cut them up smaller. If you do, it will take more time to build up your base, but you are less likely to end up with a bumpy end product. Dip your paper strips in your paste and remove excess liquid with fingers. Start layering the strips all over your project. Change the direction of the strips as you begin on a new layer. I like to give each layer a little blow dry to expedite drying.  Keep doing this until you have at least 6 layers on all of your components. I recommend allowing your components to dry at least a little before adding up more layers; it is much faster to dry a sheet of paper then a stack of newspapers (See the Drying Your Paper Mache section for tips). If you have base forms that you want to keep, you will want to dry your paper mache completely at this point and remove them. If you feel that the shapes are still not strong enough, add some more layers. Dry you your paper mache.


TIP: Try to keep the paper strips as smooth as possible to end up with a smooth surface when dry.




TIP: We didn’t have any tissue paper for the last layers, but we did have old IKEA Furniture instructions, which are mainly white. You can use anything!


Putting Your Paper Mache Components Together

Now that all of your components are dry and strong, it’s time to assemble them. You can use masking tape to secure forms to one another. This is a part that you as the adult might want to take over. Make everything is fitting together properly, and take care to apply your take evenly. Try to avoid tape wrinkles and bubbles as this will have an effect on the final texture of the paper mache. Finally add some last few layers of paste and paper to give your final shape a uniform texture. Finally dry, or let dry, your paper mache for the last time.


TIP: adding a few extra layers of tissue paper at the end will help remove any small imperfections and also leave your paper mache in one inform color. Not having black writing will reduce the amount of paint layers you have to add.


PS: Marko got pretty crazy with the tape here. Probably better to not do that.


Drying Your Paper Mache

I have mentioned before that I like to dry our paper mache constantly, between layers, between paintings… but this is not mandatory. I find that it helps the whole thing dry faster rather then doing it all later. Either way, there are a few methods to dry your work, whether in progress or complete. The obvious one here is Air drying. Let it sit outside if it is sunny and warm, put it in the warmest room of the house, or sit it on the fridge. This method can take days, but there is nothing wrong with it at all. Another method is a combo or Air Drying & Blow Drying. You will speed up the process, but beware, that paper dries slower then you think, you arm will get soar and so will your ears. My personal favorite way of drying a paper mache is using the good old oven. this is the fastest was to dry, but it isn’t very safe. I have left our paper mache in the oven many times, I have never burnt it completely but I have browned the edges. If you decide to use an oven, I strongly recommend using a timer and never letting you paper mache in for more than 3 minutes without checking up on it. I also recommend using the lowest possible temperature your oven will operate at. Even if you are letting your creation air dry, but happen to be using the over to make your family some bomb baked Mac n/ Cheese, you can use the heat of the over after you have turned it off to give your drying a safe speed up.


Decorating Your Paper Mache

Now that the important part is over, let the decorating begin. Choose your color, and make sure you have A LOT of it, paper maches have a reputation for sucking up paint. If you are mixing your own color, be sure to note down your ratios in case you need more. Once you get a few nice coats of paint you can expedite the drying with your blow dryer or in the over again.


After your paint has dried you can go crazy, paint some more, paint textures, patterns, faces or whatever else you like… or not! You can collect all the random craft articles you have lying around and do whatever you want. If you are going to be doing gluing stuff to your paper mache, I recommend hot glue. Be precise because if you need to remove it, you will damage the paint on your paper mache. It is always a good idea to keep a little extra paint on hand, to cover up any boo boos.



Marko insisted that the tail wiggles even after drying, so we had to cover up the break in thicknesses.


So You Think Our Pig Is Bumpy?


Yup! Our bumpy pig is the result of letting kids be kids! If you are working with an older, or more patient kid you can focus more on smoothing out your paper layers before drying to avoid bumps and imperfections. Marko really got better with smoothing things out after a few attempts, and is still improving just because he is seeing that extra work gets a nicer result. And in the end that is point of crafting with kids. Have fun and learn along the way.


Marko’s green alien pig now has a permanent spot on the book case.



The post How to Paper Mache: The Kids Paper Mache Edition appeared first on The Keeping Spot.

This post first appeared on The Keeping Spot - We All Fit In, please read the originial post: here

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How to Paper Mache: The Kids Paper Mache Edition


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