With the Christmas holiday coming up, many of you are so stressed out, you are chewing on paper. While you may be a colony of hamsters in a cunning disguise, might I suggest a better option? Paper Mache literally means chewed paper, and has wartime applications. (Let it never be said I have done nothing for the hamster rebellion.) A few supplies are necessary at this point:

– Paper of any sort

– Flour

– Water

– Balloons

– Toilet paper rolls

– Tape

As you might have guessed, the paste is a flour/water mixture. It turns out, flour can do most of the things you want, and only a few of the things you don’t. Like explode. Ye olde paste is exactly what people are referring to when they talk about eating glue. I guess kids liked bland things back then. As for the exact ratio, just wing it. Ideally, it should look like pancake batter, but feel free to experiment with more or less flour.

paper mache supplies

As you can see, an empty cereal bag is a fine work surface. You will also note that balloon. It turns out, soggy paper needs something to cling to in order to dry in any useful shape. For the purposes of this article, I taped half-tubes to the balloon, and a smaller section for the nose. Keep in mind any time you want to make something cute, make it round with little stubby appendages. People adore helplessness.

balloon for paper mache

At one point, I ordered something online. I now have a lot of brown packing paper, so this is a pretty good use. You just dip your fingers in the paste, and smear it on the torn paper strips. Try not to get too much on the paper, just make it soggy on both sides. After about five strips, your hands will be perfectly suited to chasing people around the house, with your deadly starchy touch.

Paper mache in progress

Now that you have given life to a balloon and some bathroom refuse, you should let it dry out somewhere. You can actually dry it out in an oven on its lowest setting, which may turn the paste into a clear, rubbery substance. Or you can set it out in the sunlight or something if you have things to do. It is important that it is fully dry before you add another layer of paper. If you don’t, your sculpture will go the way of Halloween pumpkins, and rot from the inside out.

Now, while you wait, try making other things. Aluminum foil is your friend here, easily molded and somewhat firm. Take this opportunity to make yourself a phantom of the opera mask, or any other kind of mask so that the world will never find you. As for me, I made a tree.


As you can see, I cut some branches out of a toilet paper roll, and taped them to other scraps of cardboard until it looked like a tree. The foliage is modeled by that handy green balloon, and brown paper makes pretty good bark. If you want, you can take napkins, toilet paper, or paper towels, and get a certain texture from pasting it on. (I did nothing of the sort)

paper mache

That’s what it looks like when dry. A word of caution: When popping architectural balloons, be very careful. Use the old “tape and pin” method to slowly deflate the thing. That tree there imploded a little bit, partly because a lot of the branches were still taped to the balloon. On the other hand, the pig’s balloon popped without causing any damage.

paper mache

It may be past Thanksgiving, but piñatas are forever.

(Until you beat them in a blind rage.)

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Brandon Quist About Brandon Quist
Brandon is originally from Olmsted Falls, Ohio. He has studied both at Baldwin Wallace college and Brigham Young University, and is currently pursuing Chemical Engineering, among other things. He considers himself a jack of all trades, and a master of none. In his spare time, Brandon enjoys knitting, guitar, reading, origami, writing, and photography.

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