Paper Mache Questions and Answers

The paper mache questions and answers, you've been searching for. You've got questions, I've got answers! I've summed it all up, right here. Make craft projects using this inexpensive medium and get better results with this important information.

My project is going moldy. Why?

The number one reason is using too much paste! Whoa Up on the goop.

Can I fix my moldy project?

Probably not. You are better off trashing it and starting over from scratch. Less paste next time.

How long does it take to dry? Why won't someone actually give me a REAL answer?

Depends on the temperature and humidity in your area. Find out more about drying paper mache

How much does it cost?

Cheaper than Kmart! Almost free!

Isn't it just for kids?

No, it's not just for kids. There are some very talented people creating amazing sculptures with paper mâché.

Too messy?

It is messy but that is half the fun. Preparation can reduce the mess and make cleanup easier!

What can I make?

The list of what you can make is endless. Start small to avoid frustration and once you get the hang of it, move on to bigger and better things.

Why is My project lumpy?

If you have a lot of lumps, you may be using too much paste or it isn't mixed well enough.  If this isn't the case, maybe the newspaper strips aren't being smoothed down well enough after dipping them in the paste. You will improve with practice.

How can I smooth it, if the project is already dry?

Try sanding it with medium grit sandpaper. 

Won't I wreck it if I sand it?

No. You will also be amazed at the patterns that may emerge! 

Different materials?

All start with some form of paper and paste or clay.

Are there different types of paper mâché?

There are many different versions. The very basic method uses newspaper strips, dipped in paste. There is also clay for thicker, textured pieces.


Are there different kinds of paper mache clay?

There is a paper mache clay called celluclay. All you have to do is mix it with water. There are also different versions of homemade clays. Newspaper mashed up, toilet paper, drywall mixtures and clay made with cellulose insulation. (Not fiberglass insulation)

Can I really make something with just newspaper and paste or do I have to use paper mâché clay? 

Yes, you can make some really great paper mâché projects with just newspaper strips.

Can I sculpt details using just newspaper, without using clay? 

Yes, by twisting or crumpling the paper, you can add details. The seahorse project uses only newspaper strips and so do many of my other creations. 


This seahorse was made with newspaper strips. NO clay necessary.

More Paper Mache Questions and Answers

Will the paper mâché look better when it is dry?

No, in fact in some cases it may look worse! Strips of paper that haven't been smoothed down properly, won't magically stick themselves down, during the drying process. It may begin to crinkle and stick up, even if you thought the paper was stuck down sufficiently. To avoid the problem, make sure to smooth down each piece, really well. Practice makes a difference. Soon, you will learn what works and what doesn't.

What kind of paper can I use?

Newspaper is best but any paper that is not really thick and does not have a glossy finish. Glossy paper will work, but will be more difficult to apply, so it isn't recommended. Using tissue paper for the finishing layer is my favourite paper mâché technique.

Do I have to put glue in the paste?

No. There are various paste recipes. Leave the glue out, if kids are involved. The paste will wash out of their clothes easier. 

Why use glue?

Using glue adds strength to the project. 

The paste turned dark and smelly after a couple days. Can I still use it?

No, don't use it! If it is dark and smelly, it is bad. Throw it out and make fresh paste. You can add clove oil or salt to the paste to make it last longer. Make sure to put leftovers in the fridge!

How many layers should I do?

Depends on what you are making, the size and also what the base is made of. Sometimes 3 layers is sufficient. A large project will need at least 7 layers.

How many layers at one time?

2-3 layers at one time and then it MUST dry.

What is a layer anyways!?

A layer is covering the entire item once with strips of newspaper. A small amount of overlap is okay.


What can I use as a form?

The most well known form used for paper mâché has to be a balloon. It can be difficult to work with and limit your shape. Other items used as a form can be: crumpled paper, stuffed plastic bags, cardboard, spray foam, styrofoam packing material or chicken wire.

This form for a pumpkin is a plastic bag stuffed with newspaper.

How big of project can I make?

As big as you have the patience and collected newspaper for!

This dragon was a large project!


How long will it last?

Forever, if kept indoors.

How much time does it take? 

Small projects can be fairly quick and easy. Large items may take several days. Drying time is what takes the longest. I combat the impatience by having various stages of multiple paper mâché projects going, all at once. One can dry, while I paint or add more layers to another.

Hopefully, these paper mache questions and answers have been helpful. Now, it's time to get busy and have some ooey, gooey fun! 

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