An ambitious paper mache project needs a lot of paper mache pulp, which is useful for making finely detailed or small paper mache objects. With a little patience and diligence, a lot of pulp can be made--but one has to shred lots of paper first. Fortunately, there are novel ways to easily break down paper into tiny bits.
To make pulp, one needs to turn a fair amount of paper into tiny shreds. The obvious question, then, is what paper shreds best? Do not use thick or glossy paper, such as from high-quality magazines--it does not shred easily nor does it work well as pulp. Other kinds of paper to avoid are cardboard, wax paper and origami paper. Newspaper works well because it tears easily and makes for the best kind of pulp. Wrapping paper, phone book paper and pages from Penguin Classics also work well for the same reasons. Toilet paper is even easier to tear, and using it will cut down on the time it takes to shred and tear.
The amount of paper necessary depends on how much pulp is needed: A full issue of the Sunday edition of The New York Times will create a vast amount of pulp for many projects, while the Sunday Styles section should be enough to make one or two items. The more paper needed, then, the lighter paper stock one wants--it will make shredding and grinding go faster.
Breaking paper down into tiny pieces, in preparation for pulping, can be a painstaking process, but there are a number of ways to make it easy and quick. Scissors can make it easier to cut paper into small pieces: Simply take a stack of newspaper and cut through it, so it generates multiple layers of paper shreds. Also, a paper-shredder can turn paper into small shreds with little effort, but one will want to cut each long shred in half to make it easier to handle during the pulping process. (For enormous amounts of pulp, seek the services of companies like ShredNations, which shreds paper by the box load.) If a paper shredder or scissors are unavailable, consider using toilet paper--tearing through a stack of toilet paper is much easier than getting through newspaper. That will cut down on the time it takes to break the paper down into tiny pieces.
Grinding paper is not exactly common for the average household. Paper grinders are generally used in offices, where a great amount of paper is produced--and the paper itself is not easily fed through a paper shredder. It's not advisable to purchase an industrial-grade paper grinder for the purposes of making paper pulp. But one can drop by an office to see if they have ground or shredded paper that can be used for pulping. Getting ground or shredded paper secondhand is probably the easiest way to obtain vast amounts of paper for pulping.
Peter Holslin is a freelance writer based in San Diego, Calif. He has been writing professionally since 2003. He has contributed to "The Onion A.V. Club-New York," Cokemachineglow.com, and "San Diego CityBeat." Holslin holds a Bachelor of Arts in liberal arts from The New School.