Paper Mache Glue and Paste

Paper mache glue or paste is what holds your project together. There are many things you can use and I think the best way to choose is to have a go with what appeals to you and see how you get on.

PVA or White Glue

This is my personal favourite paper mache glue as it dries fairly quickly and gives a good strong finish. We use it undiluted from the container for making pulp and when using it to paste strips we dilute it three parts water to one part glue.

You can get it at a reasonable price from most good DIY stores.

Wallpaper Paste

This takes longer to dry and does give a softer finish but still works well as a paper mache glue. One advantage that some brands have is a fungicide which prevents mould forming while your paper mache is drying. This may cause sensitivity in some users so, if you you do have a problem with it, wear gloves or use a paintbrush to apply it. It's also not recommended for children because of the fungicide.

To use it, mix it up according to the manufacturer's instructions but remember that it swells up a lot and a little goes a long way. Store any excess paste in an airtight container.

Again, you can get this at a good DIY or home decorating store.

Flour and Water Paste

This is probably the one most commonly associated with paper mache. It's not one I use a lot because it dries quite slowly and is prone to mould. It can also attract insects and other creatures if it's not sealed properly. I have heard of an artist who found a mouse had taken residence in one of her works, and was eating it from the inside out. I rather hope it was one of those rumours that get blown out of proportion, but you never know.

My own personal experience with marauding beasties was not quite as dramatic. I make a snake out of pulp which was made with flour and water. I left it on the windowsill to dry and went away for a long weekend. When I got home it was stinking like a hyena and was buzzing with fruit flies. With hindsight I now know you don't make fat puff adders out of one huge wad of pulp, especially in a very humid climate.

Okay, having given you the downside of flour and water paste, here's the upside. It's very cheap to make. Most of us have the ingredients in the kitchen already. It's non toxic and great for the kids to use as you won't be constantly worrying about what might become of them if they eat the paste. And, finally, it's been used for years by paper mache artists all over the world to great effect.

If you fancy trying it, there are a couple of simple recipes for paper mache paste in our recipes section.

› Glue and Paste

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