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"Papier-Mâché" Crafting

by Jacqueline Gikow

A Papier-Mâché bowl

Instructions for making a papier-mâché bowl are provided below.

"Papier-mâché" is a French term, which is literally translated as "chewed paper." Papier-mâché is prepared of torn or pulverized paper and combined with glue or paste. While it is wet it is extremely supple and it dries quite hard. Papier-mâché is a way of using paper to create sturdy three-dimensional items. The French phrase originated in the 18th century, when the procedure grew to be in style in Western Europe, but the early examples of papier-mâché go back to very old times.

In the 17th century papier-mâché grew to be admired in Western Europe when European dealers started to import these products from Asia. European craftsmen started to replicate these objects made from papier-mâché. Papier-mâché became a preferential method among artisans who employed it to make furnishings, serving dishes, pianos, knobs, and even horse-drawn carriages.

The Victorians were big papier-mâché aficionados since the substance could be formed into many complex shapes and ornaments. In 1840 Queen Victoria received an attractive set of papier-mâché serving platters for a wedding gift. There were a lot of expert papier-mâché crafters, but it was also an exceptional craft do in the home by women.

Papier-mâché is an economical craft and easily learned. In addition, it's a very flexible technique that can be integrated into many other kinds of arts and crafts.

Papier-mâché is perfect for making doll heads and elements for sculpture. Pieces of papier-mâché can be attached to a painting or to collages to add dimensional external appeal. A lot of jewelry designers include pieces of papier-mâché into their designs.

There are two approaches to formulate papier-mâché: layering and mash.

Basics to Laminate Papier-Mâché

Tear newsprint paper into strips. Artists and craftpeople use newspaper as a resource of this substance. Newsprint is the same material, but unprinted - before it is used as a supply for printing the news.

Don't use scissors to make the strips! To make the papier-mâché surface as even as possible, use a ruler to tear the strips, creating a ragged edge. The paper strips will attach together more smoothly resulting in a smooth shell. Use your fingers to put together each strip with adhesive before smoothing it on your papier-mâché shape. Let it dry. Overnight will usually do it.

Fundamentals to Make Papier-Mâché Pulp

Shred newspaper or newsprint into small pieces. Steep it overnight in water and then mix with a prepared paste. Drain the liquid from the pulp until it feels like dough. Wet papier-mâché pulp should feel like bread or pie dough. To build with papier-mâché pulp, smooth it over your armature. Let the mixture dry.

Papier-Mâché Pastes

You can use Elmer’s glue, bleach, or wallpaper paste. White glue and wallpaper paste are mixed with water to a thin consistency. Bleach is available in a bottle, is inexpensive and can be used straight without any additions.

Papier-Mâché Objects

Building the structure or armature takes the most effort and is a consuming part of doing papier-mâché. However, a great base works really well in making the completed creation look just as you want it to.

Galvanized wire that comes on a coil at the hardware store makes a good armature. Balloons also make good armatures. You could also crumple up paper or aluminum foil. Other ideas are to construct shapes with cardboard, paper towel tubes, or sculpting clay.

Making a Papier-Mâché Bowl

1. You can to start with a balloon to create your bowl. You can make different sized bowls by using a variety of balloon sizes.

2. Rip strips from your newspaper creating narrow strips. With a foam brush, attach the newspaper strips to your balloon using Elmer’s glue. The papier-mâché bowl will be thicker if you use more layers of newspaper.

3. Position the balloons upside down sitting inside paper cups and let the papier-mâché dry overnight.

4. Once the papier-mâché dries, break the balloon and remove the plastic from the paper. You will have a bowl left with imperfect edges. Use a pair of scissors to trim it to the size you desire. The bowl doesn’t have to be precise. I think an asymmetrical shape is what makes these distinctive!

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