Saturday, October 19, 2013

How to make paper mache toadstools

 I’ve been asked so many times how I make my paper mache and the answer is here. 
The last time I did paper mache was in grade three, which was probably the 
last time you did too.   The good news is some things don’t change, 
but we cheat a bit, too. The toadstools are made in two parts; the cap 
and the base. Here’s what you’ll need:

o   Old newspaper, torn into long strips

o   Vintage book with thin, thin pages for the outside layers, torn into strips

o   Wallpaper paste of your choice

o   Water color paints red

o   Paint brush

o   Heavy white acrylic paint

o   Hot glue gun

o   Foil wrap – the kind you put over a roast chicken

o   Masking tape

o   Plastic container with lid for storing left over wallpaper paste.

o   Apron because this stuff gets messy

o   Krylon triple glaze spray. Do you know it?


1. Gather all the materials.

2. Ignore the wallpaper paste instructions. Make the thickest stodgiest 
mix you can. You want the spoon to stand up in it. If it’s too syrupy, 
add more powder. I keep mine in the fridge later so it’s always there.

3. The foil is how you get the shape. Create a nice sturdy base of the 
toadstool, and then twirl up the rest for the stalk. Trim the base and 
flatten out any lumps. The more shaping here the easier the paper part is.


4. Mold the toadstool cap by hand, or cheat using a small bowl. 
Fold under and trim any parts that don’t fit. Don’t worry if it looks flimsy, 
after a few layers of masking tape, it will be fine.

5. Cover both parts with masking tape. It smooths out lumps in the foil, 
gives the piece strength and holds the paper mache on. You will be working with 
the cap and base for now, and glueing them together later.

6. By now your paste will be nice and thick. Newspaper is thirsty for glue 
but you don’t want it too wet. The piece will take ages to dry and may droop. 
Use long thin strips to wind about the base and cap. Make two or three layers. 
Pay attention to the edges and smooth them out with your fingers. 
Paper mache is wonderfully obedient and happy to oblige.

7. Drying is easy in the summer months and in winter the oven helps. 
Do not use a microwave unless you want a fire. The foil inside will 
catch alight. Ask me how I know this.
Set the oven on a really low temperature. 100 Celsius or 215 Fahrenheit. 
The foil works by heating up the inside, drying from both sides.

8. Once the newspaper layer has dried, check for smoothness, then 
apply the final layers of vintage paper. Use long strips like before so 
the paper does not crinkle. Very small pieces work best for tight corners. 
Allow to dry as before.

8. The cap is ready to be painted red. Apply two coats and allow to dry. 
With a smaller paint brush pop some bright white dots over the top.


9. Warm up the glue gun and hot glue the cap to the base. Don’t worry if it 
looks messy, because you will covering that up with more paper mache to hide it.

10. Finish off with a couple of coats of Krylon Clear Glaze and let it dry. 
You’re done!


How big can you make them?
I once made one two feet high for my market stall. 
Brownies came to sit under it.

Can I cut the paper up instead of tear?
Tearing paper helps it to mold better. All those 
little frayed edges bond nicely.

My paper mache looks rough and lumpy where the paper 
has folded and creased.
Two options – assuming it’s dry now – you can sand it. Or do another 
layer using very narrow and small pieces of paper. Most folds come 
from when the paper is too wide for the shape. Be patient.

Why Krylon Triple Thick Glaze?
Once I used regular old Estapol gloss spray from the hardware store 
and it made all my toadstools go yellow. I hated it. Krylon says it is 
clear and it is. I just don’t trust any other brand, but go ahead and 
use another if you know it well, or don’t mind a weird yellow tinge 
to your beautiful handmade paper mache treasure.

Why can’t I use acrylic paint on my toadstool?
You can – go for it. I prefer watercolor because it smooshes into 
the paper and becomes all Zen with it. Acrylic sits on top all separate, 
but it gives a stronger color.

Can I make these and sell them on Etsy?
Knock yourself out. Not sure if anyone owns the copyright to 
paper mache toadstools. The world needs more.

Can I copy this tutorial then sell it on my blog?
Only if you’re a schmuck.

I set fire to my house because I used a microwave – can I blame you?
See above.

Did you like the tutorial? There is more coming.
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  1. Thank you, great step by step.

  2. Thank you very much for the tutorial. The toadstools look sensational.

  3. They are gorgeous, as usual. I think I'm going to have to go shopping...!

  4. I just love the delicious red colour. Your toadstools are a work of art. Do you make fairies too? It would not surprise me!

  5. Love your tutorial Denise..........I just started making a paper mache person today!!
    Never thought of using foil.....great idea.

    Claire :)

  6. Love your making things from paper the tip about the oven. Can't believe someone was silly enough to trying a microwave for drying... what a wally.. :D xx

  7. thank you for sharing this tutorial. shall I tell you about the time we tried to dry out papier mache pumpkins in the oven, with the balloon still inside?

  8. What a generous soul you are grrrl....thank you for sharing this...

  9. These are just delightful! Thank you for sharing your method so clearly. Maybe I will try again...I have a love/hate relationship with papier mache, love the results, hate the goopy's my last effort (my results are not nearly as lovely as yours!)

  10. oh my !!! these look good
    to eat,
    i must say !!!

    {{{ i prefer you just drop by
    we make them together
    i understand if you cannot ... }}}

  11. une proposition de bricolage créatif.. très joli!

  12. Thank you for this awesome toad stool, mushroom tutorial. When you make your dogs and people do you use this same paper mache technique as you use for these mushrooms? Just curious, as I love making anything that looks so cool!
    We are all one of a kind, and very unique in our own way. One of a kind, meaning there is only one of us ever created in the entire universe, and there will be no duplicates. So create to the maximum! And be who you are!
    I like reading SARK and her wisdom. After reading her, I always smile and know that I am here for a purpose if only to encourage other like-minded, kindred spirits...that's enough to make it all worth while.

    1. I only figured out the foil thing after making the people from scratch, but the dogs were made like that, yes. It's a cool short cut.


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