The possibilities are endless with Papier Mâché - or papier/paper mache - which is a cheap, fun and easy material to work with for kids of all ages.
Paper mache projects are guaranteed to be messy - which kids love - and it focuses on creativity and imagination rather than using expensive materials or specialist tools. Paper mache crafts are all made using a glue/paste and some strips of newspaper, and the rest is up to you...
Using only these basic materials it is possible to make any almost anything in paper mache, so search the house for interesting objects and materials to use as the base for your paper mache crafts - balloons, plastic bottles and cartons, cereal boxes and the inner tubes from toilet rolls are all excellent for these projects. In case you need some inspiration, we have gathered a list of five easy ideas, as well as some tips and tricks to make sure you have as much fun as possible when making your paper mache kids crafts.
How to make paper mache
Tips for Making the Paste:
The paper mache recipe varies, depending on when you plan to use the paste. If you are making the paste to use immediately, then use this easy, no-cook recipe: mix equal parts flour and water, stirring until you have a runny, smooth consistency. You can also water down PVA glue - roughly 2 parts glue to 1 part water - until you have a thin, runny consistency.
If you are preparing the paste a few days ahead of time, then the cooked paper mache recipe is a better option - as it can be stored in a jar in the fridge for several days. Mix cold water into flour, until you achieve a creamy texture, before transferring to a pan. On a low temperature, heat the mixture, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes. Allow the paste to cool before use. If it has become too thick, simply stir in enough cold water to thin it down.
Tips and tricks:
Tear the newspaper into strips ahead of time (tearing is better than cutting with scissors, as the rough edges glue together better)
Lay down a plastic sheet or sheets of newspaper to protect the surface
Wear scruffy clothes and/or an apron - you will get messy!
Use a large mixing bowl for the glue, so that it is easy to get your hand in and out.
Only dip the newspaper pieces into the paste one at a time - and squeeze off the excess by running the strip through your fingers, or up the side of the bowl.
Make sure all the strips are overlapping.
Aim to have at least three layers of paper mache, and let each layer dry before adding another one. The more layers and paste you use, the longer the paper mache will take to dry.
This is not a quick project that can be finished in one afternoon - paper mache can sometimes take a few days to dry before it can be sanded, painted or decorated.
Paper Mache Bowls
Kids will love making their own paper mache bowl - which can be used, or proudly displayed, in the house once it has been decorated and varnished.
Use a bowl that you already have - and like - as the mould for your paper mache bowl. To make it easy to remove the bowl, cover it in tin foil, smoothing it down and getting into all of the corners and edges. A thin coating of a spray cooking oil will also help remove the bowl after the paper mache has dried.
Lay the paper mache strips in a criss-cross pattern across the whole bowl, then reinforce it with a horizontal layer that encircles the bowl. Smooth down the newspaper strips before letting the paper mache dry completely. Once dry, simply remove the bowl and aluminium foil and trim the rough edges with scissors before decorating.
Using acrylic paints, cover the bowl, inside and out, in a layer of white paint. This is a great base for the other colours - then get creative painting patterns and pictures all over the bowl before finishing with clear varnish.
Easy Milk Bottle Mask
Make an amazing paper mache mask from a large plastic milk bottle. For full instructions, watch the video tutorial from Howcast:
Aluminium Foil People
Aluminium foil is an amazing base for paper mache crafts. Simply sculpt a stickman figure using the foil, then once the kids are happy with their sculpture, start adding layers of paper mache. Once completely dry, paint the paper mache people however you like. Perfect for making characters for a puppet show or dolls house - this is a fun and simple kids paper mache activity.
Rainbow Pencil Holder
There are lots of fun paper mache projects - but this one is perfect! Kids can brighten up their desk with this cheerful rainbow vase, keeping their pens, pencils and brushes neat and tidy (stored in a small plastic plant pot hidden inside the rainbow).
Simply cut a rainbow shape out of cardboard, using it as a template to cut another identical rainbow shape. Make a 3D rainbow by using two strips of cardboard - one to cover the top of the rainbow, and another for the small inner arch. Before assembling, trace around the plant pot in the middle of the long strip of cardboard, cutting it out, so there is a hole at the top.
Assemble the rainbow using masking tape, then start layer on the paper mache - covering the rainbow with a couple of layers so that it is strong and stable. Once dry, paint a base coat of white, then paint on your rainbow and varnish to finish.
Paper Mache Letters
Using the same method as the rainbow vase, you can also make amazing 3D letters. Draw your letter onto cardboard then cut it out and trace around it, so that you have two identical cardboard shapes. Then insert an extra strip of cardboard between the two cardboard letters, using masking tape to secure the 3D letter before adding layers of paper mache.
Godmother to two little girls, Rosanna enjoys finding ways to entertain her goddaughters with games, cooking and – best of all - arts and crafts. Having studied Fine Art, Rosanna uses her creativity to make colourful, fun and educational art and craft projects that are perfect for kids of all ages. Full of ideas for homemade cards and handcrafted gifts, toys and decorations – Rosanna also has a knack for finding child-friendly cultural activities and fun places for kids to blow off steam.