Working with papier mâché

Types of papier mâché

There are two types of papier mâché:

  • Pulp mâché
  • Strip mâché

Making a form in papier mâché is not quite as easy as in clay, and if junior classes have a good programme in three-dimensional work in clay and construction there is really no need for them to use papier mâché. If they do use it, pulp mâché is the easier to form, but it takes a long time to dry out and is not as responsive as clay.

A strip mâché piece is built on a central support but should not be just a repetition of the supporting mould, unless the children have formed the mould themselves. Inventive modelling should be part of the process. The very popular papier mâché form that is moulded around a balloon, for example, could be given a raised relief pattern, or the modelled features of some kind of character.

If these features are, for example, rather large ears or noses, a crumpled piece of dry paper could be stuck on and held in place by more strips of pasted paper, which would cover over any unevenness. The balloon should be vaselined over to prevent the papier mâché from being sucked in as it starts to dry and shrink and as the balloon loses air.