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Paper mache

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Papier mache, or paper mache, as Americans call it, can be easy to make. This material is commonly used to make craft items such as holiday ornaments and figurines. The material is also very economical and eco-friendly, since the material is completely biodegradable.

Before starting, it is important to pick out the right materials. Ideally, gather up old newspapers, stationery, gift wrap, and old magazines. While practically any type of paper will do, try to avoid paper that has been in contact with food. Also avoid using heavy paper such as cardboard. Tear the paper into strips that are no more than two inches wide for best results.

Next, think about the shape of what you are going to make with the paper mache. In general, it is easiest to create a mold around items such as cartons, cans and inflated balloons. As you become better at creating molds, move on to creating wire frames to drape the paper mache over.

There are three main methods for creating paper mache. Each of them has its own advantages and disadvantages, so read each method all the way through before deciding which one is best for your project.

For the first method, start by gathering a bag of flour, a bowl of water and some paper. Start by stirring three parts water into one part flour. Mix with a paint stick or disposable spoon until a smooth and creamy mixture forms. If possible, add a few drops of wintergreen oil to the mixture so that the newly-formed paste lasts longer.

After the mixture forms, quickly dip each strip of paper in the liquid mixture. Then apply each paste-covered strip to the mold. If you do not use wintergreen oil, you will need to work quickly in order to prevent the paste from seizing or drying out. Once you have created the sculpture, allow it dry for at least twenty four hours before moving on to the next step.

For the second method, gather together wallpaper paste, water and paper. This is the most expensive method, but also the easiest. Mix one part wallpaper paste to three parts water. Stir the mixture well. Use this paste to dip each strip of paper and cover the mold. Unlike the flour and water, you do not have to worry about moving as quickly, since wallpaper paste is designed to stay sticky longer.

For the third method, gather together plain white “school” glue, water and paper. Mix together two parts glue to one part water. Stir this mixture well to produce a thin paste. Dip strips of paper and apply to the mold.

Allow each layer of paper mache to dry for at least twelve hours before applying the next layer. Depending on what you want to create, you may need three or more layers of paper mache before you are ready to start painting your creation.

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