Paper mache, or papier-mache, literally means “chewed up paper,” but it’s a lot more fun than the name makes it sound!
It’s a beloved craft pastime that you can your family can use to make decorations, piñatas, masks, and so much more! It can be time consuming and difficult to find a very strong adhesive though.
So, how do you make paper mache stronger? The solution lies in using a glue adhesive rather than flour. Mixing strong adhesives with water can produce stronger quick-drying paper mache items. One of the most effective adhesives is Titebond III glue, but you can always use a glue such as Elmer’s in a pinch.
Making paper mache projects can be incredibly fun, but no one wants to have their project fall apart. Consider the following paper mache adhesive combinations to make a strong finished product.
Making A Super Strong Paper Mache Mixture
The strongest way to make paper mache is to use a glue adhesive rather than flour. This is also ideal because it is less likely to rot or mold, which projects made using flour as the base for the adhesive can do.
Using Titebond III Glue To Make Your Paper Mache Stronger
One of the best adhesives on the market for use with your paper mache is Titebond III glue.
It can get a little pricy to keep buying good glue if you make a lot of paper mache, but you can get around some of that expense.
If you don’t need your project done right away and have a little bit of time, order your glue in a larger, more affordable bottle online. It tends to be much more affordable than the smaller bottles you can usually find in craft and super stores.
It is, however, quite handy if you need to make paper mache in a hurry. The drying time with this glue is a lot less than with many other adhesives available for you to use, so you can get your project done in much less time.
You can also try using a combination of flour and Titebond when doing paper mache, to use less of your nice glue. It may not be enough to strengthen your work, but it’s worth a try one day on a non-essential project.
Titebond III glue sticks to everything, so you’ll want to make sure you use a disposable container for mixing your glue and water that you can toss when you are done. Possible containers that work well are old, washed out yogurt or sour cream containers. If you try using an old dish, wash it immediately after use.
This glue tends to really “grab” the paper you are using over your base, rather than letting the paper slip and slide all around, which tends to make it a little more effective than commonly used glues such as Elmer’s, which is a great stand-by glue but doesn’t hold up to the same wear and tear as Titebond III glue.
Making Paper Mache With Titebond
When you’re using this glue to make your paper mache stronger, follow these simple directions:
- Gather your supplies, including a container to hold your Titebond III glue and water mixture and your strips of paper, as well as the base you plan to use.
- As with any paper mache project, consider covering your base with a layer of plastic wrap to help keep your paper mache paper and glue from sticking to the object permanently. Adding several layers can help provide more detail to your project, as it removes easier.
- Pour a measure of Titebond III glue into your disposable container. Add a small amount of water, stirring regularly. You may need to add more glue to get the right texture. You want the glue and water mixture just thin enough to brush readily over your paper, such as newspaper. Minimizing how much water you use will help make your adhesive base stronger.
- For best results, take a brush and brush the glue and water mixture onto the strips of paper as you apply it to the base. This helps control how much of the adhesive mixture you are apply, which will also serve to conserve how much of the material you are using, if you’re worried about costs.
- Remember to not apply the glue mixture too heavily over your project as that will cause it to take longer to dry.
- Once done, allow your paper mache project to dry overnight. Consider placing your project on a sheet of wax paper for drying.
- Now that your paper mache project has dried, it is time to paint and decorate it. Before you start, ensure that each area of your project has completely dried.
- Enjoy your finished project!
Using Resin To Make Your Paper Mache Stronger
Resin is another option to produce a really strong finished paper mache project. While this isn’t the most kid-friendly method, it can be hugely beneficial if you want a durable project that will last through many uses, such as if you’re making a mask for a play.
Keep in mind that it is not a great option for “temporary” projects, such as making a piñata to break apart for a birthday party or other celebration. (A piñata made with hard, permanent resin sounds more like a mean prank than a party game!)
You can follow the directions on your package of resin, but many people find that adding in a little flour can help achieve the desired consistency and results for making your paper mache project with a resin base.
Here are some easy steps to follow to produce stronger work with resin:
- Gather your supplies. For 1/2 cup of resin glue powder, you’ll need 1 cup of flour and 4 cups of water. Use an old pot that you are not worried about being ruined if the mixture sits too long in it. (Not using it again for cooking is ideal to prevent possible toxicity from ingesting resin glue.
- Start a pot of water boiling on the stove.
- Mix your resin glue powder with flour and stir it well to ensure it is mixed relatively evenly.
- Once your water is boiling, add the flour and resin glue powder mixture to the pot and allow it to boil for approximately 2 to 3 minutes. You will want the final product to look clear and smooth. So stir it until any clumps of powder have been dissolved.
- Before use, let your resin, flour, and water mixture to cool. You can make this mixture ahead of time so that your children don’t have to wait for it to cool. And it’s great if you’re in a rush to get started on your spectacular paper mache project.
- Brush this mixture onto the strips of paper you are using for your paper mache project, taking care to not apply it too thickly, which will delay how long it takes to dry.
- Allow your project to dry, which make take overnight. If you’ve applied thick layers, it may take even longer for your paper mache to dry.
- Once it is dry, it is time to decorate your paper mache project. Consider a sealant if your project might get exposed to the elements.
Kid-Friendly Ways to Make Paper Mache Stronger
It’s quick and easy to make paper mache with flour. If you do it right, it is still strong enough for many kids’ projects.
Keep in mind that when using flour to make your paste, you want to use all purpose white flour. Whole wheat flour is less ideal because it is not sticky enough.
But when using flour to make your paper mache paste, you don’t want to leave it sitting overnight. Yeast is attracted to flour. It will start to break down your paste when left to sit out, which causes the paste to be less sticky and less effective overall. (It also makes your paste start to go bad and stink.)
Making a Stronger Paper Mache With Flour
When making your paste, to make it as strong as possible, you want to make it a thinner mixture. This makes it easier for the paste to soak into your paper or shop towels, whichever you are electing to use. Still, you don’t want it to be too runny and watery either, as there will be less adhesive power.
Here’s how to make paper mache stronger using flour:
- Start by getting your tap water hot. You do not need to boil water on the stove for this step.
- Mix hot water into your bowl of flour, whisking gently to mix it well. Add water until you reach your desired consistency. You can even use an immersion blender for this step.
- Once your paste is mixed, it is time to start making your paper mache project. Just brush the paste on your project or dip your strips into the mix and apply them to your base.
- Allow your project to dry. The more water you add to your mixture, the longer you will need to let the mixture dry. This is particularly true if you are using something like blue shop towels applied over your base. It’ll still make for a great finished project.
Keep in mind that this option is not great for people who are sensitive to gluten. Consider a paste version if you or one of your children has a gluten allergy.
Although it is not the strongest option available, gluing your paper mache project with an adhesive made from craft glue and water is a simple and easy for kids to craft.
Whip up a batch today and make some masks for playtime!
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