A few days ago I realized that I might have an actual use for all of the shredded paper I’ve accumulated at home and at work.1 Basically, my thought is that I may be able to create a paper mache “clay” by soaking shredded paper in a bucket of water, draining it somewhat, mixing in some white glue (or flour), molding into some interesting form, and letting it dry into a hardened cardboard like form.
Today my daughter and I went out to the hardware store to pick up a bucket2 , masking tape, and a lot of glue. We dumped about three gallons of shredded paper into the bucket, added about a gallon of water, and mixed it up. I plan to let it sit out to let the paper disintegrate a little before we drain it and add some glue.
Just to see if it would work, we packed one of my daughter’s sand toys (a large fish mold) with some of the wet shredded paper and set it out to dry. I have no idea if it will hold together since we didn’t wait for the paper to disintegrate and didn’t add any glue. If it works, great. If not, I figure we can just toss it in the bucket again and let it disintegrate for good.
In the meantime, if you’re interested in learning some really great paper mache techniques, I can’t recommend enough Dan Reeder‘s books on paper and cloth mache. Here are the three Dan Reeder books I own:
- The Simple Screamer: A Guide to the Art of Papier and Cloth Mache
- Make Something Ugly…for a Change!: The Definitive Guide to Papier/Cloth Mache
- Dragon-Maker’s Handbook-Full Color Edition
Of the three, I think the second (Make Something Ugly) is probably the most comprehensive and interesting. However, the techniques in the others are also really great.