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How is papier-mache made?

Discover the process of papier-mâché.

Papier-mache masks remain a popular craft. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Papier-mache masks remain a popular craft.

Tear or shred cardboard and newspaper into tiny pieces. In a bucket or bowl soak the pieces in water for 1 to 2 days. The pulp then can be combined with paste to make a malleable mixture for modeling.

The Popularity of Papier-Mâché

Although its use is older in the East and in Persia, papier-mâché became popular in Europe in the middle of the 18th century. Made from paper pulp mixed with glue, chalk, and sand, pressed into oiled molds and baked, objects, such as small boxes, trays, picture frames and ornaments, were fashioned and painted. In 1772 Henry Clay of Birmingham, England, patented a method of making the substance so hard that it could be treated as wood-and it was. By using cotton rags in place of paper, the result was stronger than the wood-pulp used today. The Great Exhibition of 1851 showed chairs, couches, tables, and cradles made from papier-mâché.

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