Papier-mache is a craft technique that uses paper and a paste to make various objects. The paper can be cut into strips or soaked into pulp, and then applied to a mold or a frame. The paste acts as a glue and a hardener, and can be made of water and flour or other starch, mixed to the consistency of heavy cream. Other adhesives can be used if thinned to a similar texture, such as polyvinyl acetate (PVA) based glues (often sold as wood glue or craft glue). Adding oil of cloves or other preservatives, such as salt, to the mixture reduces the chances of the product developing mold.
Papier-mache has been used for centuries in different cultures to make things like masks, sculptures, furniture, and even canoes. The name is French and means “chewed paper”, because the paper looks like it has been chewed when it is wet. Papier-mache originated in China around 200 BC, where it was used to make objects like snuff boxes and warrior helmets. It later spread to other parts of Asia, Europe, and America, where it was used for various purposes such as religious ceremonies, decorative art, and entertainment.
There are two methods to make papier-mache. The first method is to use paper strips glued together with adhesive, and the other is to use paper pulp obtained by soaking or boiling paper to which glue is then added. With the first method, a form for support is needed on which to glue the paper strips. With the second method, it is possible to shape the pulp directly inside the desired form. In both methods, reinforcements with wire, chicken wire, lightweight shapes, balloons or textiles may be needed.
Once dried, the resulting material can be cut, sanded and/or painted, and waterproofed by painting with a suitable water-repelling paint. Before painting any product of papier-mache, the glue must be fully dried, otherwise mold will form and the product will rot from the inside out.
Papier-mache is a cheap and easy way to create artistic and functional items. You can use recycled paper and simple paste to make durable items like pinatas, vases, and jewelry boxes. You can also experiment with different styles and themes and create your own designs. Papier-mache is a fun and creative activity that you can do with your family and friends.