Paper Mache - Stewart Home & School

Paper Mache

Paper Mache (or Papier-mâché if you’re French)

Paper mache (or Papier-mâché)  has been around for much longer than you might think. The concept of paper mache was used in ancient Egypt when the Egyptians would make death masks from linen, layers of papyrus, and plaster. Also countries like Persia, China and Japan would use paper mache to make small trinket boxes and trays. Papier-mâché is French and it literally means “chewed paper”. Papier-mâché is made of pieces of paper (sometimes made of pulp) and is bound together with a paste/glue-like substance. And if you don’t know already, it is EXTREMELY messy, but so much fun!

In art therapy we have had some previous experience with paper mache. Last summer/fall we created (using dowel rods and swim noodles) a giant dragonfly which really turned out well. Since that first paper mache project was a group project, we decided it was time to do an individual project. It will definitely be a work in progress that we hope to share with you in the coming weeks and months.

We decided to make paper mache bowls for one of our spring projects. We started by cutting A LOT of smaller pieces of newspaper paper (thanks again Frankfort State Journal!) into small manageable pieces for paper mache-ing. We also had to make our paste which consisted of nearly equal amounts of flour and water (which is what makes this project a great sensory activity!). Truthfully we didn’t measure. We just kept adding water to our mixture until we thought it would make a good paste.

This is where the mess and the fun part come in. I read online that you should spray the object you were using as a mold with cooking spray so it would pop right out. Not to spoil anything, but let’s just say it didn’t. 🙁 After covering our bowls with cooking spray, we began the process of using the paper mache. Some students dipped their paper in the paste and then placed the paper on the bowl and kept adding until the entire outside of the bowl was covered. Some students had the great idea of putting the paste directly onto their bowls and then putting the paper on top of that and then smoothing it out. That was tricky part of the process of paper mache-ing — trying to make sure the paper mache was contouring the bowl to have a nice shape. I have to say, they all did a great job! I was very impressed with their abilities. We can only do a layer or two at a time to make sure it dries properly, but its coming along nicely.

This past week we also had a visitor to our class — Casey. We enjoyed having her and hope to see her again soon!


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