Ultimate paper mache bring your ideas to life with paper mache

Jonni, I never thought about how much it cost, as it was paid for by the company. I do know that because it was latex based you can thin it with water, and a little goes a long way. You’re right in that the sculpture on a float is pretty big. But I’ve used it to make some smaller pieces- about 18″ tall or so. I’m not sure about the waterproof resistance of crumpled paper painted with just the primer and paint. I had a gallon of the 3M Fastbond that I’d had for over a year and still had about half of it left, and I’d made a lot of sculpture. If you want to try the corrugated cardboard and pasteboard, I suggest you use the cheapest, flimsiest stuff you can find, usually the Chinese-made stuff. I suggest looking in the dumpsters behind cheap furniture stores.


To make the smaller stuff, you just rip the cardboard into smaller strips. You build up the sculpture in strips and small pieces, building it up hollow, sometimes over a wooden or pvc armature depending on the size.

Now if you want to make up a sculpture over crumpled foil I’d use an armature made up of pvc or wire (I use aluminum guy wire from a radio supply store, it’s cheaper than armature wire from an art store.) You then cover this in pasteboard with the 3M Fastbond. (I’m not a representative for 3M. If there’s a latex/water-based contact adhesive out there that’s cheaper, then please by all means use that.)

Hey Jonni, Ari Kahn here. I used to build Mardi Gras floats in the Southeastern US. Each of these floats contained paper mache sculpture of one sort or another. We used to use chicken wire covered with heavy kraft paper and this noxious, petroleum-based contact adhesive that took a long time to dry. Later, instead of the chicken wire, we used corrugated cardboard covered with paste board and butcher’s paper. We used 3M Fastbond contact adhesive to glue the cardboard to itself. 3M Fastbond is a green, latex-based adhesive that cleans up easily with water when still wet, (but nothing will get it out when dry.) We’d cover the sheets of cardboard with the glue and let it dry. We then ripped it into strips and built up the structure. This was then covered in pasteboard (the kind of cardboard you find in cereal boxes), also coated in glue. This also had the added benefit of partially waterproofing the cardboard. This was then pasted over with white butcher paper and waterproof poster paste. The purpose of the pasteboard was to smooth out the corrugated cardboard and the butcher paper smoothed out that. This was finally painted over with Kilz primer then painted with exterior latex house paints This enabled the sculpture to hold up in all sorts of weather for years. We had sculpture that we’d been using for years and was still as good as the day it was made. I myself have made exterior decorations using this method and they were still going strong (at least they were when we moved.) I made a few sculptures like this using moulds, but you have to do them a bit in reverse. You first have to put in the pasteboard in the mould, then line it with the strips of corrugated cardboard. After you pull it from the mould, you then cover it with the butcher paper and poster adhesive.