Monday, 17 January 2011

In Praise of Papier Mâché

Ever since I made the ubiquitous Papier Mâché Pig with a balloon as the base at junior school, I have loved Papier Mâché as a medium. I even won a handicrafts prize for my efforts. Alas, I have a long way to go before I can create such gorgeous work as Gemma Taccongna (1923-2007). She was a gifted artist who became well known in the 1960's for her iconic doll's heads such as these below. She managed to make her pieces look just like porcelain and they are so beautifully decorated. They are highly sought after now and collected by all kinds of people - but not by me yet (sadly!).

Here is a Papier Mâché Mask that I made a couple of years ago and now hangs in my studio (needless to say I don't wear it out much). I had great fun decorating it with all sorts of things including pistachio shells. Don't ask me why - It's just the kind of thing I like to do!

A great site for more information including  Papier Mâché artists and tutorials is


Emily D. said...

I stumbled across your blog after reading your "Design*Sponge" comment. i love it! cute crocheted magnets :) i am a h.s. art teacher, and have been in search for the perfect paper mache recipe. would you mind sharing what you use for your paper mache projects? thanks! and keep up the lovely work!

Amanda McIvor said...

Many thanks for your kind words Emily. I'm afraid that I'm a bit slapdash in my methods and don't follow a proper recipe. I use diluted PVA (probably about 1 part PVA to 5 parts water. Then I just smooth layers of small torn newspaper. If you let it dry thoroughly in between a few layers it will become quite strong and durable. I'll use plain unprinted newsprint for the final few layers. I give it several coats of Gesso or Acrylic Primer and maybe a light sanding with fine sandpaper. Then I decorate with Acrylic paints and sundry bits and bobs. Finally I give it a coat or two of varnish.

There are other methods including making a 'mush' of paper. I keep meaning to look into how Gemma Taccogna achieved that wonderful porcelain finish.

A good site for all things paper mache including tutorials is

I hope this is useful. Thanks again.