Time to play with papier-mâché

Papier-mâché ideas: Get inspired

If you’re ready to get started with some fun papier-mâché ideas you’ve come to the right place. While it may look intimidating, with the right glue and the right materials you can master the art of papier-mâché in no time.

Getting started with papier-mâché

No doubt you’ve already heard of papier-mâché and you probably did some craft projects at school with it. Also called paper mache, papier-mâché is a great way to make lanterns, bowls and other 3D shapes. It’s also a great DIY technique to try out with your kids. All you need is strips of newspaper, glue, water and some exciting papier-mâché ideas.

Bringing papier-mâché ideas to life

Chances are you already have a million and one different papier-mâché ideas, but before you get started here are the two most important things you need to know.

  • Choose the right paper. Paper, otherwise known as the “papier” in the papier-mâché, is the first thing you need. Any paper will work as long as it’s not glossy or too thick. Newspaper is a great choice because it’s cheap, easily accessible, porous and strong, meaning you can use it to cover large uneven surfaces – like balloons. 
  • Tear the paper instead of cutting it. Once you’ve got some newspaper ready it’s time to tear it up. Resist the urge to cut it up neatly as tearing will create softer edges on the newspaper strips which means they will blend more seamlessly when layered up. 

Instead of tearing each strip off one at a time, you can tear a number of strips all at once by stacking 6-8 pages of newspaper on top of each other. Newspaper rips in nice straight lines but be sure not to rip the strips too small – a width of 1 inch per strip will work nicely.

  • Glue. The second thing you need to master papier-mâché is the right glue. Find some white PVA glue or some wood glue and pour it into a mixing bowl and add some water in a ratio of 2 parts glue to 1 part water. The water will make the glue into a paste and will make it easier for you to soak the newspaper strips.

Papier-mâché ideas with balloons

Now we’ve told you what you need, you’re ready to get started with your first papier-mâché project. Some of the best papier-mâché ideas use balloons as moulds, so you can make papier-mâché vases and papier-mâché bowls along with papier-mâché ideas for Halloween, papier-mâché ideas for Christmas and even papier-mâché ideas for toddlers!

Here’s how to use papier-mâché with a balloon.

  1. Get ready. Rip your newspaper up into strips, mix your white glue and water in a mixing bowl to form a paste, and inflate the balloon. Also, if you’re making a bowl use a permanent marker to mark the balloon so you know how much to cover with papier-mâché.
  2. Soak the newspaper strips. Pour some of your glue-water mixture into a smaller tray. Add a strip of newspaper to the glue paste and allow the glue to soak in. 
  3. It’s time to glue. Put the balloon into a bucket or bowl to stop it from rolling around. Take the strips of newspaper out of the glue and shake/run your fingers down it to get rid of any excess glue. Then, apply the newspaper to the side of the balloon and smooth down using your fingers or a paintbrush. 
  4. Repeat until the balloon is covered. Keep gluing strips to the balloon and layer the strips up 2 – 3 times until you’ve achieved the shape that you want. Finally, smooth over any wrinkles with your fingers or a paintbrush.
  5. Leave to dry. Leave your papier-mâché creation to dry. You can leave it in the bowl or bucket but just turn it around every few hours so that it dries evenly. You could also hang it out to dry on your clothesline. 
  6. Pop the balloon. Papier-mâché will take about 2-3 days to dry completely but it depends on how many layers you apply, and how much glue you use. Once you’re sure that it’s completely dry, take the knotted end of the balloon and pop it with a pin. Then, remove the deflated balloon from your finished papier-mâché piece.

Your papier-mâché creation can now be painted and turned into all kinds of things – bowls, vases, animals, Easter eggs, you name it! You can also add other accessories like googly eyes, jewels or beads to transform your papier-mâché idea into something great for your kids.