Fast Paper Mache - composite pulp and Moulds

Recipe by David Bottino

This is a non-conventional recipe developed by David to enable him when doing his puppet making workshop’s, to produce and paint heads and faces all on the day. It is easily worked, fast drying, light and strong, ideal for sculpturing, most puppet making needs and as a replacement for other paper mache pulp uses.

Basic Pulp Mix

Note: Glossy paper (magazines, junk mail etc.) could be ‘coated with a gloss’ and may not pulp, because you will need to try each different type it really is not worth the effort.

100 grams dry paper torn into small pieces. News print, copier paper etc. but not glossy paper a/a.
1/2 Litre water.
1/2 Litre white glue - i.e. PVA, Rapid Resin Glue or Rapid PVA.

You should check the setting time of the filler you intend to use as this approximates to the actual setting time of the pulp.

Mix the three ingredients together in a bucket or similar deep container and allow to stand until wet, about 1/2 hour or so, stirring occasionally may help.

Blend/pulp using an electric drill with some form of paint stirrer/metal blade until thoroughly pulped, the use of a kitchen blender is not recommended as the mixture is very thick. This is the basic mix, it stores well and should keep for a few weeks/months if covered / wrapped in plastic.

Usable Mache Mix

You should check the setting time ot the filler you intend to use as this approximates to the actual setting time of the pulp.

To use, mix the basic pulp with the same amount by volume of white interior / exterior filling plaster. This should be mixed by hand using a stirrer and kneading by hand. You may need to add a small amount of water. The volume of the added filler will be reduced to about halve its value when mixed with the basic pulp. This is suitable for filling open moulds or for direct working. To slow the mix up and make it slippery add a pinch of neat cellulose wallpaper paste (1 - 2 %) the amount is not to critical but don’t over do it.

This mix, depending on the quality / setting time of local supplies, can be removed from the mould in an hour or so and then dried in an oven at 110 deg C for an hour or so.

For a very fast setting mix use Plaster of Paris.

Note: The basic mix will make about 1.2 litres. Adding the 1.2 litres of filler for the usable mix will only increase the total volume by half that amount when mixed. Thus if all of it is made up there will be about 1.8 litres. You will need to take this into account when mixing up smaller amounts. Only mix up sufficient for the job in hand as obviously the usable mix will not keep.

The moulded object can be given a finishing coat of two parts PVA to 1 part white filler. This should give it a smooth doll like finish.


To make a comparatively cheap mould use ordinary cheap Kitchen/Bathroom Silicon Sealer. Paint the first coating on and allow it to set, them add a second coat and smooth out with a brush using the appropriate cleaner for the silicon. This smooth finish will then accept a plaster support mould. For larger work the addition of 20% of chalk or plaster to the silicon for the second coat will make it much firmer whilst still being flexible. This is a very inexpensive and readily available alternative to latex and commercial moulding materials. This idea came from Atije Nikolous in Germany and works well.

Original Dated 29th. September '99