How to Make Paper Mache

Another fun use of recycled paper is paper mache. Paper mache is a great method of making three dimensional paper crafts, such as masks, ornaments, and figurines.

First, select your paper. Feel free to use any paper you’ve made for this project–or simply using any paper currently in your recycling bin. Newspaper is considered an optimal choice.

Tear (don’t cut) your paper into thin strips. One to three inches is a good measure, but you can vary the size however you like.

To make your paper mache paste, you’ll need plenty of water, recyclable paper, and your choice of flour or white glue. If you choose flour, you will need to mix three parts flour to one part water until your mixture is uniform and smooth.

For a glue-based paste, mix two parts glue to one part warm water.

Before you begin to lay your strips of paper, be sure to have something to put them on. For example, if you want to create a mask, you may want to first shape the mask with some cardboard, a milk jug or another sturdy material. If your goal is an ornament, you might want to use a balloon blown to the size you desire.

Once you have this base, dip your paper strips into your paste and lay them onto the base. Each strip should be fully coated, so be prepared to get messy! Adding multiple layers can help, but be sure that your first layer is completely dry before adding another.

After your creation dries, you can paint it or decorate it however you like. Paper mache is great for use in piñatas, Halloween costumes, and Christmas gifts.