116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
This craft literally translates to “chewed paper” — a name that sounds much better in the original French.
Papier-mâché (a rhyme pronounced “pap-yay ma-shay”) is an ancient art form that, according to The Papier Mache Resource, was invented in China thousands of years ago. Papier-mâché involves molding paper (or mashed up, “repulped” paper) into some sort of shape or figure.
When Europeans finally learned about the art form, the French were the first to start using the technique themselves.
Legend has it they called it papier-mâché because it was the job of some unfortunate French workers to literally chew up the paper! Whether the legend is true or not, the name stuck.
Papier-mâché can be used to make lots of different items, including masks, vases and helmets. Here’s how to make a bowl — no paper chewing required — using the newspaper in your hands.
You will need:
- A newspaper
- A balloon
- A mixing bowl
1. In a bowl, mix together one part flour with two parts water. (1 cup of flour with two cups water will be more than enough.) The mixture should have a similar consistency to pancake batter.
2. Blow up your balloon, then rip an old newspaper (or this one!) into long strips that are 1 to 2 inches wide.
3. Dip the newspaper strips into the mixture one at a time. When you pull it out, slide the strip through two of your fingers to take off extra mixture.
4. Place each strip onto the balloon. The strips should crisscross each other to reinforce the final shape. Keep adding strips until at least half of the balloon is covered.
5. Put the balloon on a plate or flat surface and let it dry overnight. If you’re worried about the balloon sticking to the plate, spray a little cooking spray on it first.
6. Once everything is very dry, pop the balloon. Voilà, you have a papier-mâché bowl.