A process honed by the bookbinders of yore to decorate a book’s face papers, paste paper has been used for centuries to create decorative paper pretty enough for greeting cards, wrapping paper, collages, and more. The beauty of paste paper is that the paint holds it shape to create a textured design.
The process is simple enough – coat a sheet of paper with paste and use any myriad of objects to create striking patterns and designs.
There are many recipes for paste paper than can be found on the internet, but we used this recipe:
Here’s what you’ll need to get started:
- 1 pkg. Elmer’s Paper Mache Paste
- 1 gallon distilled water
- Paint, you can use acrylic or tempera paint
- Sealable Utility Cups – Medium Cups
- Sealable Utility Lids – Medium Lids
- A large bucket to mix the paper mache paste and water
- Paper: Use at least a 60lb paper, or it will buckle
- Brushes: We liked using foam brushes to apply the paint paste to the paper.
- Design Tools: Anything that leaves an interesting pattern in the paste will work – wedges, combs, brushes, kitchen utensils, paper clips, sponges, pre-made or homemade stamps, etc.
1. Mix Elmer’s Paper Mache Paste according to directions on package. Mix in 1/2 gallon of distilled water. Save the remaining ½ gallon of water into another container for future use.
2. Once the Paste is ready—it takes about 20 minutes with stirring and resting time—pour 1/4 cup of paste into the utility cups and add an 1/8 cup of paint—we used acrylics—into each utility cup. Mix the paint and paste together, and you are ready to start making paste papers.
3. Apply the paint paste with a foam brush, covering the surface of your paper. Feel free to overlap paint colors for interest. While still wet, use your design tools to make creative designs on your paper.
The ratio of paper mache paste and water can sized up for classroom use. The utility cups with lids provide secure storage containers and allow you to come back a day or two later to continue to use the paste. Teachers, you can use larger containers with lids to store your paste. The paste mix, without the added paint, will hold together for quite a while. A month later, and our paste mix is still good to use.
Add metallic paints for an extra dash of fancy in your paste. Students can use everything from old credit cards and room keys, to bubble wrap and paper towel rings to make designs on the paper.