How to Work With Papier Mache Using White Paper

by Ann Johnson
Pinatas are typically made with papier mache.

Pinatas are typically made with papier mache.

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Papier mache is a French term meaning "chewed paper." It's an ancient process, traced back to about the second century. It involves moistening pieces of paper in a papier mache paste and then shaping the paper into an object. When the glue dries, the piece hardens. Artisans use the method to make furniture and sculptures. Pinatas are typically made with papier mache, which involves covering an inflated balloon with the wet strips of paper.

Items you will need

  • Starch or flour
  • Oil of wintergreen
  • Balloon or cardboard
  • Tape
Step 1

Tear the white paper into narrow strips, about 1-inch-by-5-inches, or into 2-inch squares. Cutting the paper is faster, but it produces inferior results. Torn edges produce a smoother surface.

Step 2

Make a papier mache paste. You can use equal parts liquid starch and water as your paste, or make a paste-like substance by combining three parts water, one part wheat flour and a couple drops of oil of wintergreen. The oil of wintergreen inhibits mold development.

Step 3

Dip the paper in the paste and thoroughly soak the paper. Leave the white paper in the solution for about 15 seconds to allow the fibers to absorb the paste.

Step 4

Run the wet paper through two fingers to remove excess paste and apply the wet paper to whatever surface you intend to use as the framework for your project. This might be an inflated balloon, pieces of cardboard or heavy paper that has been taped together to form a shape.

Step 5

Cover the surface completely with one layer of paper and allow it to dry. Add more layers, letting each layer dry before adding a new layer. The number of layers you add will depend on what you are making. For example, you may add three layers of papier mache to a balloon when making a piñata, but add more when making papier mache furniture.

Photo Credits

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