what is paper mache??

Many of the items offered throughout this store

are either partly or completely made of Paper Mache. Paper mache is a favorite medium of mine because of its versatility and eco-friendly nature. Paper mache (originally known as papier-mâché) is a sculpting technique which has been in use around the world for centuries. Many different cultures, in many countries have employed some form of paper mache to create a wide variety of objects, big and small. Dating back to objects created in ancient Egypt and Asia, people have sculpted everything from boxes, bowls, weapons, and masks, to figurines, furniture, and even a small village in paper and paste.

Wikipedia: Papier-mâché (French for "chewed paper"), alternatively, paper mache, is a composite material consisting of paper pieces or pulp, sometimes reinforced with textiles, bound with an adhesive, such as glue, starch, or wallpaper paste.

Paper mache is traditionally created from pulps of wood and plant fibers, and in more modern times, from all types of paper and even fabric, softened by water, and strengthened by a binder of paste, glue, or other solution with adhesive properties. There are many modern adaptations of paper mache found in our everyday lives. Wallboard used to build walls, MDF (medium density fiberboard), and particle board, used in furniture and smaller items like clipboards are created by compressing fibers and binding them together into panels. Even food cartons use card stock created by molded paper fibers. Over centuries of experimentation, artists, artisans, and tradesmen have proven the strength and versatility of paper mache.

Clockwise, from top left: 1. shredded paper being prepared for pulp 2. paper pulp created from salvaged paper
3. paper pulp being sculpted into a bowl form 4. a dried form created using the paper strip method 5. a paper pulp form before and after sanding 6. one stage of sanding, using a rotary tool 7. assorted paper pulp forms ready to be sanded 8. layering paper using the dipped strip method

Dictionary.com: “pa•pier-mâ•ché- a substance made of pulped paper or paper pulp mixed with glue and other materials or of layers of paper glued and pressed together, molded when moist to form various articles, and becoming hard and strong when dry.”

There are many variations of papier-mâché recipes and techniques, but the simplest, most widely used methods require only paper, water, and white glue or wallpaper paste. In some cases (most often in elementary classrooms), even white flour mixed with water is used for paste. In its most basic form, papier-mâché dries hard and lightweight, so it is an ideal medium for making a wide assortment of objects.

Because I love incorporating recycling and re-purposing into my work, and I enjoy the endless possibilities of the medium, many of the sculpture items offered in my store and featured on my website are all or partially comprised of papier-mâché. My papier-mâché pieces are created using the most basic, widely used recipe, because my focus is on form and surface treatment. I am always experimenting to push the limits in this medium, and enjoy the challenge of creating objects that cannot immediately be recognized as paper.

*All of my papier-mâché items are carefully sealed for moisture resistance and durability. Care instructions can be found in item descriptions and enclosed with pieces when they are shipped.

packing paper mache to ship

learn my paper mache pulp technique on my blog (opens in new tab) 



shop paper mache in this store

Additional reading
The Contemporary Craft of Paper Mache : Techniques - Projects - Inspirations by Helga Meyer
The Art and Craft of Papier Mache by Juliet Bawden
Crafts Library: Papier-Mache by Miranda Innes
The New Encyclopedia of Origami and Papercraft Techniques by Ayako Brodek 

*some of my work is featured in this book

Online Resources
*Not affiliated with me or my work, for reference only.

The Papier Mache Resource
Ultimate Paper Mache
Gourmet Paper Mache