How to make paper mache

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  • Paper mache can be modelled into anything, from useful and pretty bowls to unique lampshades. It's so easy to make masterpieces with just a balloon - all you need is a great paper mache recipe! 

    Paper mache creates three-dimensional projects by combining paper with a strong glue and drying it into a sturdy shell. Paper mache takes the form of whichever mold you’ve used to shape it when wet. You can then decorate in any way you want – even with glitter!

    It’s great for little fingers and grown ups can also make all sorts of wonderful art projects – it will keep you all entertained for ages.

    Follow our easy guide for how to make easy paper mache glue from water and flour, then let your imagination run wild!

    Paper mache recipe


    Gather your materials, flour, water, newspaper, painbrush and a balloon

    • Newspaper
    • Flour
    • Water
    • Salt
    • Table covering
    • Emulsion paint
    • Vaseline
    • Paintbrush

    paper mache


    Step 1

    To get started simply tear the newspaper into strips about 3 inches long, put to one side and then start to make your glue.

    Step 2

    To make your glue take a large 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

    Paste the strips of paper 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.

    Step 4

    If you’re using an object to creat a certain shape – such as a bowl – 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 mache has dried. Though you could always use a balloon, then simply burst it to remove.

    Use a balloon to make a paper mache bowl

    Step 5

    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.

    Paste the paper onto the balloon and smooth with the paintbrush

    Step 6

    Leave to dry, 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 7

    When it is all completely dry – this may take overnight – paint with two coats of emulsion paint to seal it, leave to dry then paint your desired colour.