Learn what paper mache glue is best to ensure you accomplish your crafty projects efficiently. The glue is the most important material for paper mache because it’s responsible for holding your project together. It will also determine how long your project will last or what adjustments you can make once the paper gets exposed to the glue.
Best Glue for Paper Mache
Many brands of glue exist, but did you know that there are also several types? This wide selection is often confusing, and if you end up buying the wrong type, your paper mache project won’t be as successful as you want it to be.
This tutorial is broken into
- Commercially available glues such as PVA glue
- Homemade paper mache glue made from a flour mixture.
The PVA Glue Mixture
According to experts and experienced crafters, PVA (polyvinyl acetate) is the best commercially available glue for paper mache projects. But what is PVA glue? What are its advantages over other types like cyanoacrylate, epoxy, and polyurethane?
Dr. Fritz Klatte of Germany discovered PVA in 1912. It's a colorless thermoplastic-based adhesive made by polymerizing vinyl acetate and is usually toxin-free. It can bond any porous materials, such as glass, plastic, wood, and, of course, paper.
Today, PVA glue is one of the most versatile and widely used adhesives. Some varieties are water-soluble, so you can make an emulsion out of them by mixing them with the right amount of water. You’ll also find water-resistant, waterproof, and dyed PVA glue types.
- Durable bond or seal
- Safe unless ingested
- Easily accessible
- Produces a smooth and clean finish
- Can’t be varnished
- Some aren’t waterproof or water-resistant
PVA Paper Mache Glue Options
As mentioned, there is a wide selection of PVA glue that you’ll find in the market today. To make it easier for you to decide, let’s talk about two of your best options.
Types of Glue:
- White, Hobby, or School Glue
- Type 1 Carpenter’s or Regular Wood Glue
White, Hobby, or School Glue - The Best PVA Paper Mache Glue
The best glue for paper mache is white glue, the variety you usually use in school and the office. It’s affordable, easily available, and flexible, so even beginners won’t have difficulty accomplishing their small and large projects.
However, you can’t sand the dried white glue, so make sure you don’t create bits or clumps while making your design. Nonetheless, the dried glue is durable, preventing any cracks in case you knock off your paper mache accidentally. Additionally, this glue is water-soluble and requires dilution before use.
Type 1 Carpenter’s or Regular Wood Glue - The Alternative Option
Known to be the strongest type of PVA glue, the type 1 carpenter’s glue is another excellent option. You can also easily paint and sand your projects when you use this glue, allowing you to give your paper mache an attractive finish. Its sandable property also ensures you can fix chips and cracks with ease.
Keep in mind that the carpenter’s glue isn’t flexible once dried, making it more suitable for experienced crafters. Plus, it resists water, so it’s more recommended for smaller projects and should be used in full strength. You must also remember that there are two other types of carpenter glue, but type 1 is the only suitable paper mache glue among the three.
How to Make Paper Mache With PVA Glue
Making paper mache with PVA glue isn’t rocket science. The general steps that you need to follow are:
- Prepare Your Materials and Ingredients
- Lay the Strips on Your Molder
- Allow to Dry and Apply Finishing Touches
Step #1 - Prepare Your Materials
Prepare your paper strips, at least 2.5 centimeters or one inch thick. You can cut the paper using your hands as the strips don’t need to be perfect. In fact, different strip thicknesses and uneven edges can add texture to your project.
Once done, prepare your adhesive. Depending on the variety of paper mache glue you have, dilute ¾ cups of glue using one cup of water. Then, mix until you have an even consistency or until it isn’t as sticky and thick as the original. You can add more water or glue, as needed, depending on how thick or thin the mixture is.
If you have carpenter’s glue, you can simply fill the bowl with the right amount of glue and proceed to the next step.
Step #2 - Lay the Strips on Your Molder
Dip the paper strips in the paper mache glue by batch, ensuring they don’t absorb too much glue. You can use strips of newspaper, craft paper or even tissue paper. Lift them one at a time from the bowl. Then, slide your fingers up and down to remove excess adhesive. Hold it on top of the container to drip.
Creatively lay on your molder, such as a balloon or a bowl, one paper strip at a time, and then smoothen it using your fingers or a paintbrush. Repeat until you achieved the shape or design that you want. You can add another layer or more depending on your design or the texture and thickness you want to achieve. Try not to get excess glue dripping down the sides.
Step #3 - Allow to Dry and Apply Finishing Touches
Leave your paper mache project to dry for at least 24 hours in an open but safe place, away from direct sunlight and children or pets. Once completely dry, sand uneven or bumpy areas if your paper mache glue allows it.
Now, you can start painting your paper mache project. You may also embellish it with ribbons, glitters, sequins, or whatever your design requires.
Step #4 - Demold and Coat
Carefully remove your finished product from the molder. Cut out holes if your design calls for it, like the eyes for a paper mache mask. Next, apply a final coat, such as clear paint, if the type of paper mache glue you chose allows it.
Can You Make Paper Mache Without Glue?
Now, what if you don’t have PVA glue or don’t want to use any commercially available adhesive for paper mache? Don’t worry! There’s a DIY adhesive that you can use.
Even better, the materials you’ll need are readily available in your kitchen or a store near you. Plus, it’s easy to make. Lastly, the steps in making a paper mache with flour-based glue are the same as PVA glue. Of course, the only difference is how you prepare the adhesive.
Things to Make with Paper Mache
Here are some items you can make with your paper mache glue.
The Homemade Paper Mache Glue Paste
The most recommended DIY paper mache glue is the one made out of gluten-free flour. Not only is it safer because it’s food-grade, but also economical, especially for kids and those just starting to learn paper mache. If you prefer to use ordinary flour, make sure your child doesn’t have a gluten allergy or won’t put their fingers inside their mouths.
Paper Mache Paste :
- INGREGIENTS - The simple recipe involves mixing flour and water, following a 1:2 ratio. This means 1 cup of flour is added to 2 cups of water.
- Whisk or blend together using a whisker or hand blender until there are no more lumps.
- Add more water or flour, as needed, until you have a mixture with a consistency similar to a pancake batter.
- Then, add two tablespoons of salt that can help prevent rotting and mold growth.
- Mix using your hand blender or whisker.
- You may also add food coloring if you want to skip the painting step of making a paper mache.
Some crafters also make use of homemade flour-resin glue, but this recipe involves a longer process. You would need to boil water and then mix flour and powdered resin glue in a separate bowl. Next, slowly add the flour-resin mixture to the boiling water while stirring continuously until you have a clear and smooth solution.
Is Paper Mache Better With Glue or Flour?
Yes, glue is superior to flour simply because it’s explicitly formulated to bond items, so it’s stronger. It’s also easier to achieve the right consistency needed for paper mache. It also dries more quickly than flour-based adhesive.
Although you can resolve the rotting and molding issues by adding salt, flour-based adhesive can turn yellow after a while. Nonetheless, you might not need to paint your paper mache project when using flour-based glue. You can simply divide it into portions and add color to each one.
Choosing the Paper Mache Glue to Use
By now, you should know that you have two options in terms of paper mache glue: commercially prepared and homemade.
For the commercially prepared ones, choosing the right variety is crucial, and that is PVA glue. You must also ensure you pick the correct PVA glue variety, either white or type 1 carpenter glue. Then, you need to consider what kind of project you’re trying to accomplish.
Will you expose it to moisture or display it outdoors? Or will you use it as indoor decor? For example, pick type 1 carpenter glue for outdoor decors since it’s water-resistant.
A more inferior choice is the homemade flour-based glue that’s easy, quick, and cheap to make. It’s perfect for when you practice or want to have fun with your kids. Just make sure you use gluten-free flour when working with younger children.
Overall, the paper mache glue you choose to use for your paper mache will depend on personal preference, skill level, and whether your project is for profit or personal use. Flour-based for personal projects and PVA glue for both personal and for-profit projects. Good luck and happy crafting!