How to make paper mache

How to make paper mache is all about paper, glue and water, and a little bit of imagination.

Boy learning how to make paper mache
(Image credit: Getty Images / Future)

How to make paper mache at home is a easy to learn and an easy craft to do with kids as well as a tried and tested go-to activity if you're looking for things to do with children inside on a wet day. 

All you need is a great paper mache recipe, and we've got one below along with a simple, six-step guide to creating paper mache crafts at home.

Paper mache creates three-dimensional projects by combining paper with a strong glue and drying it into a sturdy shell. It also takes the form of whichever object you've used to shape it when wet. And paper mache can easily be decorated or painted in any way you fancy.

Follow our easy guide for how to make easy paper mache below - all you need is some simple materials you probably already have in the house.

How to make paper mache

To make paper mache you will need:

  • Newspaper
  • Plain flour
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Table covering
  • Emulsion paint
  • Vaseline
  • Paintbrush

All the materials you need to make paper mache at home.

Gather your materials before you start. (Picture: Esme Clemo/GoodToKnow)


Step 1

Tear the sheets of newspaper into strips of about 3 inches long and then put to one side.

Step 2

Next, you need to make your glue paste. In a a bowl and mix one part sieved flour with one part of water (eg, 1 cup flour and 1 cup water, or 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water) until you get a thick glue-like consistency.

Pour the water into the flour to make a paper mache paste

If you think it's too thick just add a bit more water a teaspoon at a time. Mix well with a wooden spoon to get rid of all the bumps. Finally, add a few tablespoons of salt to help prevent mould.

Add some salt to the flour and water mixture

Step 3

Cover the strips of paper with the glue paste on both sides with a paintbrush - it's best to do this on a flat and covered surface, turning them over with the paintbrush as you go.

Use a balloon to make a paper mache bowl

Step 4

Using your fingers, place your glue-soaked strips one at a time over the object you're covering and smooth down with your brush to release air bubbles. Repeat this process three times to really layer it up.

A woman pasting paper onto a balloon with a paintbrush.

Step 5

Leave to dry. Then, when it is completely dried out, you can gradually build up more layers to get to the required strength and thickness of the mache.

Step 6

When it is all completely dry - this may take overnight - paint with two coats of emulsion paint to seal it. When it's dry you can paint it your desired colour.

Top tip

If you're using an object like a bowl to create a certain shape, be sure to smear the half that you're applying the strips to with a very light layer of vaseline, this makes it a lot easier to remove once the paper mache has dried. Though you could always use a balloon, then simply burst it to remove.

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Esme Clemo
Craft Writer

Esme is Future's resident craft expert, working across titles such as GoodTo, Woman&Home, Woman’s Weekly, Woman, Woman’s Own, Chat, Now, Pick Me Up and The Craft Network. Successfully turning her sewing hobby into a career, she's adept in a number of crafts, including sewing, papercraft, calligraphy, embroidery and printing.