Paper Mache

There are so many Paper Mache recipes out there if you start looking for them. I can’t say there is a definite right or wrong recipe. In my opinion it all depends on your project, and you personal preference. Here’s a few of mine…

Basic Mache

This is my basic recipe for Halloween Prop building. It can be used very thin with paper towels or tissue for texture. It can be kept very thick and used with newspaper to make an extremely hard durable finish. It can be brushed onto a surface when its thick to smooth out seams.

Basic Mache Recipe
1 c. Flour
1 c. Corn Starch
1 tbsp Salt (to deter mold)
1 1/2 c. Water
1 c. White Glue
In a bowl (that you don’t care too much for) combine flour and corn starch and salt. Add water and mix thoroughly. The batter will be thick. Add glue stirring to combine. Depending on the project I will sometimes water this down further.

Prepare your workspace

I sometimes use those cheap plastic party table coverings to cover my work area, or a plastic bag cut open.

Prepare your newspaper
Never cut the newspaper into strips. It leaves a hard edge which will not blend and will remain visible unless you sand down your project. Tearing paper leaves more fibers intact and makes for a smoother finish.

Prepare your prop or form
If using chicken wire, apply newsprint or masking tape, or both to the wire to give the mache something to hold onto. Whatever you use, make sure it is stable to ensure your mache does not warp as it dries.

How to apply mache
Take the newsprint from one end, and dip it into the mache mix. As you pull the mache back out, put it between the index and middle finger of your other hand. This will sort of squeegee off the excess mache mix, and you will have both sides of the mache coated.

Apply the strips in as much of a cross hatch pattern as possible to add strength to the shape. Only apply 2 to 3 coats at a time. If you do not allow sufficient drying time between applications your project will take a very long time to dry out and could mold.

After I have coated my project a few times, I leave it to dry. I set up fans to increase air flow, and when necessary I also add extra heat with a portable heater or a heat lamp, depending on the size of the project. *** Only add heat to the room, not directly to your project.

For finer detail use smaller pieces or use mache pulp. (see below)
For extra strength do many layers.
For smooth textures sand the final layer, or paint on a layer or two of thick Basic Mache.
For a textured finish apply different paper to the top layer or layers of the project. Try tissue or paper towel. Use a thinner consistency mache or use glue mache(see below), and paint it onto the surface, apply the thinner paper and paint over with more mache. You can gently push the paper or tissue to create a wrinkled effect.

Glue Mache

This mix is very effective when used with thin mediums such as tissue, paper towel or toilet paper. I have also used it on small projects using small pieces of newsprint. The ratio of glue to water will vary depending on your purpose. When combined with thin paper products this mix creates great texture. In general, I use this mix over top of Basic Mache, after I have achieved my form and strength.

Glue Mache Recipe
White Glue
Water
Water down the glue to the consistency desired. Apply mache with a brush to surface, apply paper, and brush over with more mache. Repeat. I usually only use this method on the surface of the prop when I need a desired texture.

Mache Pulp

This mix is more of a clay. It can be molded and shaped like clay. There may be better recipes out there then this one, again this is just the stuff I use, and one of my favorites. I use this recipe often.

Mache Pulp Recipe
Extra small paper shreds
Ground White Chalk
Glue and water

Mix together to the consistency you want. It keeps in a sealed container for a long time. The finer the paper shreds the finer the mix will be.

4 thoughts on “Paper Mache

  1. Love your site! Came across it last year when I was looking for some ideas for my family’s annual haunt. I have always loved Halloween due to the imagination of my mother who always created my great costumes & made it so much fun!
    Your talent is inspiring although I don’t have near the imagination you do. My sons are at the ages now (teens) that they are getting into the darker side & love to scare. We have aquired so much stuff over the years now that we have to have a party. At last year’s party we had between 50 & 60 kids show up to enjoy our haunted basement. They keep asking the boys if they can come this year. My father added a life size coffin to our collection last year. I am currently working on your witch’s kitchen ideas. Anyway – keep the spooks alive!

  2. Tried your basic paste last night for the first time with impressive results; it was one of the best consistencies and strengths I’ve ever worked with–thank you!!

  3. Exelent formula! I’m working on a project for halloween and I’m doing it all from scratch.Paper towels and toilet paper seem to work good. But of course I used less glue and a little bit less corn starch. To make lips on my monster I took about 4-5 feet of tp and folded it in half twice. I fully submerged the roll o’ TP in the mixure and put it in my hand, made a fist and carfully uncurled my fingers ringing out the tp. I molded the clay-like TP and stuck on my first layer of paper towel. Hey Deadspider, how do you get that smooth look on your ghoul? and what do you use for the teeth?

  4. Acrylic paint I supose for the smooth look. Three more months till’ halloween. Check out pumpkinrot.com U guys should be friends. Haha. I’m working on another project. I used a styrofoam skull for a cast. I’ll have to see if anything hapened to it 2marrow. I’m worried that that stupid blue paint tape didn’t seal it good enough. this time I read every thing under Basic Mache. Your a freegin geneous. Thanx fer yer help man.
    Rock and Halloween, it’s like pizza and beer.

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