Looking for a special project to feature on one of the walls of your Succah? Looking for a unique frame to display a copy of a beautiful old photograph? Paper mache may be your answer! Paper mache has often been used by cultures around the world for creating charming handcrafts. It's sculptural qualities and simple supplies lends it well to craft projects for kids or those wishing to create something special with minimal investment of supplies.
- thick cardboard from cardboard carton/box
- newspaper strips
- white glue or flour
- paint for base color (spray paint or acrylic craft paint)
- napkins for decoupage (optional)
- metallic fabric paint "tulip"– sold in an applicator tube
- acrylic varnish for final protective coat — matte or shiny (optional)
- sheet of thick clear plastic to protect photo
- Using a craft knife, mark and cut a rectangle the size desired. Design a silhouette for the inside, carefully mark and cut out. It must be straight, but any nicked or imperfect edges will be covered.
- Cut newspaper into roughly 1"(2cm) strips, and cut smaller 1/2-1/4" (1cm) strips to use on corners and rounded areas.
- Mix your paper mache paste using one of the following recipes:
- To make paper mache paste from flour: mix together 1 part flour to 2 parts water. You will want it to be the consistency of thick glue, but you also want it to be runny and not thick like paste. Add more water or flour as necessary. Mix well to remove any lumps. Note: If you live in an area with high humidity, add a few tablespoons of salt to help prevent mold. You should be able to store this glue in a covered bowl or jar, in the refrigerator, for a few days.
- To make paper mache paste from glue: Mix 3/4 white glue to 1/4 water (or if using a good, thick glue, like elmers you can do 1/2 and 1/2)
- To make cooked paper mache paste from flour: Mix 1 part flour to 5 parts water, boil about 3 minutes and let cool. This results in a nice smooth and inexpensive paste.
- Dip strips of newspaper in paste, and remove excess paste by running strip between your thumb and pointer finger while still holding strip over bowl. Start covering your cardboard frame with strips placed one next to the other.
- Smooth pieces with your finger for a flat as possible surface.
- For best results, let piece dry between every layer or two. But if you're dong the project with kids, just let them do a few layers at one time.
- When you are satisfied with the thickness of the paper mache, you may want to do one final layer with white paper towel or computer paper, such that the letters of the newspaper won't show through your painted base color.
- When dry, sand any lumps or bumps and paint base color. I used metallic gold spray paint.
- Use napkins for decoupaged details (see previous post for instructions on napkin decoupage) and apply raised dots of metallic fabric paint where desired.
- When dry, spray or brush on a protective coat of acrylic varnish.
- Tape a piece of thick plastic acrylic to back and tape copy of photo to that.
- Hang with a decorative ribbon or wire loop affixed to the back with strong tape.
With this simple technique, you could create a whole collection of brightly colored or elegant shaped frames to cover a whole wall! And the frames hung without pictures in them would probably look great too!
Note: For dimensional decorations, such as balls, raised squares etc, make shapes from masking tape or pieces of cardboard, tape them down and cover with strips of newspaper. Imagine the possibilities!