May 23, 2013

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Paste Paper 101

The end of the year is all about using up old supplies. Because of this, paste paper is a perfect project to do this time of year. All you need is some leftover paper mache goop and tempera paint. The process is a great way to learn about texture, while the finished product can be used for a variety of projects like journal covers or collages. Simply follow the step-by-step directions below.

How to Make Paste Papers for a Variety of Projects in the Art Room

Step 1: Mix up a batch (or used leftover!) paper mache paste

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(Note: For best results, use a commercially made paper mache paste such as Elmer’s Art Paste.)

Step 2: Fill small containers with a ratio of three parts paper mache paste to one part tempera paint. Mix thoroughly.

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(Note: If you’d like a darker look, you can mix two parts paste with one part paint.)


Step 3: Using a large brush, paint a simple pattern onto heavy drawing paper.

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(Note: I like to break up my colors into warm and cool so that they don’t get muddy.)


Step 4. Using a scraping device (paint scraper, comb, rubber tools, etc…) scrape through the paint. Let Dry.

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Voila! Beautiful paper for a variety of activities.

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Here’s an example of a first grade “Wild Turkey” collage made with paste paper.

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The students absolutely love this process. It’s one of their favorite days in the art room.


Tell us, have you ever made paste paper?

How do you use it in your classroom? Are there other cool painting techniques that use up old paint?

We’d love to hear about them!



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  • Sarah Shu

    I learned how to make paste paper in a workshop once, but when I did it with my students I had tons (I mean, tons) of fingerpaint to use up. So, we did fingerpaint on nasty old manilla paper and it looked pretty much the same in the end. Not quite as slippery when manipulating, but a fantastic final result. :)

  • Cassidy Reinken

    I LOVE paste paper! I use flour and water for the paste, it works well and is cheap.

    • Amanda Heyn

      Glad to know you can use the flour/water paste combo. That makes it even more economical.

  • Crystal B

    I have students make paste paper the same way… but we use acrylic paint (maybe tempura works better?) They use their paste paper for sketchbook covers and/or book covers for our bookmaking project and I always keep the scraps for collages! We did this on paper bags this year…a great way to recycle!

    • Amanda Heyn

      Nice! I’ll have to try the paper bag method.

  • Behind the Marble Walls

    I also love to make paste papers and usually start the year off with this project. It’s a great ice breaker to be able to jump right in! I usually laminate one sheet to use as a sketchbook cover. They look fabulous laminated! Any left over sheets make fabulous collage work.

    I also use acrylic paint because I like the flexibility when it is dry. I use wheat paste (wallpaper paste) from the home improvement stores for my paste paper and paper mache projects. It is much cheaper and works great (very nice slippery texture). We also cut our own combs with mat-board scraps.

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