At some point in one of your elementary art class, probably your teacher had asked you to take a recycled paper. Then during class, your teacher provided instructions on how to make papier mache from the material you were asked to take. Sounds familiar?
Papier maché is one of the oldest and simplest paper art ever created. The papercraft term is a French word that literally means “chewed paper”, “mashed paper” or “mashed paper.” Nope, the terms of these papers do not refer to food, but they are pieces of paper or pulp, reinforced with other materials such as fabrics or wire mesh and attached together with glue or starch to form a composite material.
A little history of the unique paper art
Despite its French sounding name, papier mache originated in China dating from the Han Dynasty. It was not introduced in France until the mid-17th century. From China, spread it to countries like Japan and Persia. Most papier mache art in Japan is smooth and lacquered pieces that have earned the term “Japanese.” The art introduction to the United States was the Englishman William Allgood.
Prepping Your Papier Mache
Just like cooking, papier mache can be prepared in two ways.
First, paper material is cut into strips, then soaked and glued together with a binder using a base or carrier material for the form. The next thing to do is to put this glue saturated paper strip in the luminaire or skeleton to create the votes. Each layer of the strip and adhesive mixture is dried before adding another layer. The object is stated to dry completely and when ready can be cut, evened, waterproof or painted.
The second method is like this – pulp is soaked and cooked with the extra glue to form a paste. This method will still need the skeleton but the pulp can be formed directly into the desired shape. If there is no skeleton or anchor, the mass sculpted is used to form a mold.
When making the papier mache adhesive, a mixture of water and flour or any starch material can be used and blended until it reaches the consistency of thick cream.
Interesting Papier Mache Ingredients
As with all other masterpieces, it is best to preserve art form so that all your efforts are not wasted. Here are some unusual ingredients for the papier mache blend in the past to make them last or prevent any kind of deterioration.
- Resin : this material provides a smooth and glossy finish to any papier mache item.
- Garlic : because edible materials such as flour were added to the binder mixture, garlic acts as an insect repellent (or for them superstitious in us, drives away evil spirits).
- Cinnamon or cloves : Yes, this material counteracts the smell of garlic while the latter performs its anti-insect duties.
- Potassium chloride : sometimes used as an acid neutralizer of the pulp or also to repel insects or rodents.
- Mashed potatoes, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, honey : Some of these ingredients are added to papier mache but just be careful not to eat your finished product.
For the actual construction of papier mache art, here is an example video that you can follow, including instructions and materials needed.
As with any other papercraft or paper art, creativity and imagination play important roles when making papier mache. It is a very simple and economical way of expressing art: all you need is paper and glue. After all, in this age of digital transformation, nothing beats a good old art form to remind us of the thousand ways of using paper.