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How to Make a Paper Mache Tray

Enjoy the benefits of recycling by creating beautiful paper mache trays. Make trays to enhance party decorations by simply choosing paper napkins and paint colors to match the theme or decor. Get your kids involved by introducing them to this recycling craft. The process is easy; it's waiting for paper mache to dry that is the hard part. With a little patience, your results will be terrific.

Things You'll Need:

  • Scissors
  • Plastic Wrap
  • Water
  • Acrylic Paint
  • White Glue
  • Paint Brush
  • Bowl
  • Mold Tray, Cookie Sheet Or Cake Pan
  • Plastic Trash Bag
  • Newspaper
  • Masking Tape
  • Napkin With Desired Motif

Cover the outside of the tray mold with plastic wrap. Secure it on the inside with masking tape. Spread the plastic trash bag over your work surface, and place the mold in the middle.

Tear a lot of newspaper pieces into shapes of a workable size.

Mix glue with water to a consistency slightly thicker than milk.

Simply dip the newspaper pieces into the glue mixture, or use the paint brush to cover both sides of the newspaper.

Working on the back of the tray mold, press the newspaper pieces in place. Continue to overlap the pieces until the back of the tray is completely covered. Apply at least eight layers of newspaper to the tray mold to ensure a sturdy paper mache tray.

Allow the paper mache tray to dry thoroughly for two or more days.

Undo the tape from the plastic wrap. Unwrap the plastic wrap from the tray mold, and gently pry the paper mache tray off. If the tray bends or flexes, allow it to dry further. After the paper mache tray has been released from the mold, peel the plastic wrap from the inside.

Trim the raggedy edges of the paper mache tray.

Paint the front and the back of the tray with the desired acrylic paint base coat. Allow it to dry.

Open the paper napkin, and peel the back layer away. Cut out the individual motifs.

Apply the glue mixture to the tray, and press the napkin motif into it. Allow the glue to dry.

Seal the paper mache tray with a couple of coats of the glue mixture or a clear acrylic sealer.


Experiment with bowls, plates and pans for unique shaped molds. Save junk mail and excess household papers for paper mache. Avoid slick advertisements, as they do not absorb the glue well. Wrapping paper, wallpaper, scrapbook paper and colored tissue paper make wonderful motifs and decorations for your paper mache trays. The weather and humidity can lengthen drying time. Keep in a warm dry area while drying out.

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