Translated from "chewed paper" in French, paper mache is used create paintable sculptures such as piñatas, picture frames and decorative vessels. Paper mache is made from a stew of newspaper, flour and water and can last a few years if cared for properly. If a paper mache sculpture becomes wet, squished or is dropped, it can tear or fall apart. When working with paper mache, it’s important to work slowly. Each layer of newspaper must be smooth for the final project to look polished. This is a messy craft, so work in a roomy, well-ventilated area.
Cover your work surface with newspapers. Blow up the balloon and tie the end into a knot.
Fold and crunch sheets of newspaper to make any necessary 3-D parts of the sculpture. Wrap the crunched and folded newspaper with masking tape to hold its shape. For example, if you are making legs, fold a sheet of newspaper in half repeatedly until it reaches the necessary height. Wrap newspapers around the leg and wrap in masking tape. This is your basic form for your sculpture.
Tear up newspapers into strips about 2 inches wide by 4 inches long. You'll need a lot of newspaper. Tear up five or six to start with.
Put 2 1/2 cups of flour into the bowl. Add three cups of water and stir. Clean off the spoon. This is your paper mache glue.
Dip the newspaper strips into the water and flour mixture. Use your fingers to remove excess glue. Cover the balloon and all other parts of your sculpture form with the newspaper strips.
Cover the entire sculpture with two to three layers of newspaper strips. Let each layer dry for at least 12 hours before adding another layer. Tear strips from solid newsprint for your final layer of paper mache. This prevents any lettering or pictures from the newspaper from showing through your paint.
Paint the dry sculpture. Acrylic and poster paints work well. After the paint dries, apply any decorations, like feathers, with glue.
You can also make a frame for the sculpture from wire or cardboard.