My Introduction To Paper Mache – Leah Nikolaou

My Introduction To Paper Mache

For the past few weeks I’ve been exploring paper mache as an art medium.  I’m going to share a few paper mache recipes today as well as a bit of history about it’s origins.

paper mache and wool jug close up

Paper mache embroidered Vase


How long ago did paper mache exist? 

My initial preconception was that it’s a craft form that originates from France.  Well from the term papier mache, it’s the obvious guess right?!  Correct, ‘papier mache’ is the French for chewed paper but the term however is thought to have been coined in 18th century England when it was fashionable to use French  language to give contemporary names to things.  From masks and festival props to small bowls and   By the 19th Century paper mache had evolved from it’s believed origins in China and the Hans Dynasty (BC 202 - AD 220) to become a favourite material for Victorian craftsmen.  Huge numbers of factories were recorded as making not only typical objects in paper mache but larger pieces of furniture like fire screens, chairs, beds and even wardrobes.  They layered the paper mache with lacquers to strengthen layers.

embroidered paper mache jug

embroidered paper mache detail

Paper Mache Recipes:

 Flour & Water Recipe

One part flour to one part water.  Some people add salt to prevent moulding although moulding will still happen if then paper isn’t dried properly.

 Wallpaper Paste Recipe

2 parts wallpaper paste to one part water

 Glue/ PVA Recipe

2 parts glue for one part water.

All materials differ so the above is just a rough guide which it is well worth tweaking.

Floral Embroidered paper mache vase

There are two principle ways of making paper mache.  The first is by tearing strips and layering them together with a glue.  The second is by boiling paper to a pulp and adding a glue to bind it together.

I’ve been experimenting with brown kraft paper, newspaper and wallpaper offcuts. Opting for the strip method I’ve been simply cutting them into strips and soaking them in my mixture for a few minutes before layering.

Want to see other ideas with embroidery check out my embroidery kits!

which embroidery kits to choose

To see how my experiments progress follow me on Instagram or Pinterest @leah_nikolaou

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