How Do I Choose the Best Ingredients for Paper Mache?

Christina Edwards

Water and flour are the two main ingredients for paper mache paste. You can also add white glue to this mixture, or it can be used as a suitable substitute. Paper can also be mixed in with a paper mache paste to create a pulp. Color and mold retardants can also be added.

Construction paper can add color to paper mache projects.
Construction paper can add color to paper mache projects.

Flour can be mixed with water to create a very simple homemade paper mache paste. These ingredients are often just mixed together until they reach a paste-like consistency. Thick paste will usually be a little stronger than thin. The flour and water can also be cooked or boiled to create a relatively weak paste that dries clear. To make this type of paper mache paste, flour is first mixed with water, and then this mixture is stirred into boiling water and allowed to cool before being used.

White glue may be added to the paper mache paste or used as a substitute adhesive.
White glue may be added to the paper mache paste or used as a substitute adhesive.

Most white glues can also be used in paper mache paste. Pastes that use glue usually dry much clearer than those made with just flour and water, but the glue must be diluted before being added. Generally, one part water is mixed with two parts glue to make this type of paste. It can also be added in with a flour and water paste.

Some people also use diluted glue for a type of finishing coat on their paper mache projects. This can be used when you do not want the edges of the paper to show on the finished project. Parents who use glues as one of the ingredients for paper mache, however, should supervise their children closely since some glue may be toxic if ingested.

Different types of paper can also be used when making paper mache. Some people add paper directly to the flour and water to make a paper mache pulp, which can then be used to create a smooth surface on a finished project. Newspaper is the most common type of paper used for paper mache, but colored construction paper can also be used.

To make paper mache pulp, bits of paper are soaked in water for several hours. The mixture is then put into a blender, and flour, glue, and water are added. Colored paper mache pulp can also be made by adding some sort of pigment, such as food coloring, pigment powder, or acrylic paint.

Paper mache often has a tendency to mold. To prevent this, salt, cinnamon, or clove oil might be added, since these ingredients reportedly help prevent mold from growing on the finished product.

Paper mache products are prone to mildew and other types of mold.
Paper mache products are prone to mildew and other types of mold.

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Discussion Comments


If you are wanting to know how to make paper mache, there are many basic recipes that you can easily find online.

One thing to remember if you are mixing this up yourself is how humid your climate is. If you live where there is high humidity, you might want to use less water when you are making your paste.

I also like to add a little cinnamon to my mixture. It just smells a lot nicer when you are working with the glue.


@LisaLou - That is a great idea using the liquid starch. Another thing I have found that is very economical is using Elmer's art paste as my glue for paper mache.

I think I have tried just about every paper mache recipe there is, and I have found this paste to be the cheapest thing that will give good results too.

I can buy this in a box for around $4 and it will make up to a gallon of glue. Depending on how many kids you have working on a project, this can last for a long time.

Another tip I learned when working with paper mache, is to use a clear layer such as copy paper for your last layer. This makes it a lot easier to paint over than a layer of newspaper.

If you do use newspaper for all of your layers, it is easier if you use a white primer paint before you begin painting your different colors on your dried paper mache.


I have made several batches of my own paper mache mixture. I have used the glue and water method, and also the cooked method with flour and water.

All of them work well, and I have found it to be more a matter of personal preference than anything.

Another thing I found that works well is a liquid starch. I bought a big jug of this at the grocery store, and this is great because it is already mixed up, and will last a long time.

It has a consistency close to the cooked method, and dries smooth and clear. Once I started using this, I find it is easier to have it on hand all the time and I don't have to worry about cooking or mixing anymore.

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