Paper Maché Paste

Paste

There are no rules - you may prefer wall-paper paste, plain water, or you may mix your paste thicker or thinner, depending on the type of work you are doing. This is my favorite recipe based on advice from Violet Costello, an artist with a lot of experience creating large scale paper-maché installations, when I took a sculpture class from her.

A little flour goes a longer way when you cook the paste and it seems to be smoother. You can add more water or more flour to make the paste thinner or thicker. Reheating it to add more of either while stirring constantly will help you avoid lumps.

use old pots and spoons

Safety tip

When you are working in art and crafts you are usually handling poisonous, toxic or potentially hazardous materials. You are also often working in your Kitchen and dining area. I try to use utensils like discarded wooden spoons and pots, that will never be used for food preparation and consumption. I also avoid washing them with regular dishes.

ingredients

  • 6 cups water
  • 1 cup flour
  • a few drops oil of wintergreen optional
mix thoroughly before heating
smoothing out any lumps

method

Mix the flour into the water before heating - you may find using your fingers to break up the lumps most effective. Yes it feels kind of yucky! If you HATE putting your hands in cold goo - paper maché may NOT be for you - you might opt for working with computer graphics or something cleaner. - However you could also try wearing plastic, latex or rubber gloves. If you want to protect your skin, but HATE wearing gloves, try applying a layer of petroleum jelly or cold cream to them before immersing them in cold goo.

Place on burner. You can use either a high or a medium heat. Stir constantly and do not bring to a boil.

While stirring, add a few drops of wintergreen if desired. Wintergreen retards mould and helps give your paste a fresh smell. It is poisonous, even though it smells like breath mints - so caution should be used if working with young children. One paper maché enthusiast who e-mailed, Patricia suggests a couple of tablespoons of salt and a bit of bleach. Her work has remained mould free for 15 years. You may want to experiment with other antiseptics such as dettol for the same purpose...or do without and use your paste up quickly and ensure your projects dry in a well ventilated dry area.

optional wintergreen
paste should thicken

In time the paste will thicken - it will thicken more as it cools. Remove from heat and let cool.

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