Can You Use Glue Without Water for Paper Mache?

Paper Mache is a fun art medium for both adults and children. It’s easy to work with and it doesn’t require any expensive materials. You will be able to create simple or complex shapes, paint them, and use them for many different things, like costumes, décor, or for other projects.

Making paper mache relies mostly on using a special adhesive paste to shape the paper. This paste can be made using glue that is diluted with water. However, adding water might not work with all kinds of glue.

So, can you use glue without water for paper mache? You can use glue without water for paper mache if you’re working with water-resistant glue such as wood glue. This kind of glue cannot be diluted in water, so you will need to dip the paper directly into the glue before placing it down onto the mold to dry. You can also use a brush or your fingers to spread the glue on the paper.

Keep reading to learn more about paper mache as well as how to make liquid glue to use for paper mache.

What Is a Paper Mache?

paper mache to answer can you use glue without water for paper mache

Paper Mache is a sculpting technique that involves using absorbent paper that is torn into strips and mixed with a paste to form a certain shape. Its proper name is ‘Papier–Mâché’ which literally means chewed paper.

The strips of torn paper are basically molded around a certain object so it can take the shape of that object once the paste dries. You can use different kinds of paper such as newspapers or even tissue paper, as long as the surface of the paper is not water-resistant so it can effectively take on the adhesive paste.

How Is the Paste Used for Paper Mache Made?

The paste used for paper mache is traditionally made by mixing flour and water, however, it’s more common nowadays to make using glue.

Most standard kinds of glue would be suitable, but keep in mind that some kinds of glue might be more water-resistant than others.

So, make sure you’re using a kind of glue that will be easily diluted with water. It’s also recommended to go for non-toxic glue if you’re working with kids and avoid extremely strong adhesives such as wood glue as they will dry too fast.

Here is a video showing you how to make the paste for paper mache:

What Kind of Glue Is Best to Make Paper Mache Paste?

The kind of glue that’s best to make paper mache paste is white glue which is also known as PVA glue.

This synthetic glue is made from various chemical components such as polyvinyl acetate, water, ethanol, and acetone. It comes in liquid or paste form then it hardens when dry to bond materials together.

It’s not completely waterproof so it will be easily diluted with water and it works perfectly with various kinds of paper.

It’s also very accessible and affordable. It is sold at almost any supply store and you can also purchase it online. Its cost might vary depending on the brand of the glue, but it’s generally a lot cheaper than most kinds of adhesives on the market.

PVA glue is super useful as well, for example, you can even use PVA glue to seal acrylic paint as discussed here.

Is Glue or Flour Better for Paper Mache Paste?

Traditionally, paper mache paste was made using flour and water, however, glue is considered a better choice for various reasons.

The main reason is that glue has stronger adhesive properties than flour. It’s easier to mix with water and it dries clear which will create a better base to paint your Paper Mache project later on.

Another reason that glue is a better choice is that it’s less messy to work with and very unlikely to develop any mold or rot.

You might still prefer to use flour because it’s more natural and way cheaper than glue. However, keep in mind that it’s highly prone to develop mold over time. To combat this, you can try adding oil of cloves or salt to the paste mixture.

How to Make Liquid Glue for Paper Mache?

When working with Paper Mache, you need to make liquid glue so you can use it as a paste. Making liquid glue is very simple, all you need to do is dilute the glue with water.

To do that, pour 1 cup of glue and 1 cup of water into a mixing bowl and stir them thoroughly until you reach the right consistency. The mixture should be less sticky than it originally was with a very thin consistency.

If the consistency of the glue or paste is too thick, it might cause bulging or protruding in the layers of the paper mache which will make it difficult to shaper properly or paint.

How to Use Glue Paste for Paper Mache?

Now that your glue paste is ready, you can start soaking the paper.

It’s recommended to tear the paper first into smaller strips using your hands instead of using scissors to cut them as this will allow the paper strips to absorb more of the paste causing it to stick better.

There are multiple ways to soak the paper strips and apply them to the project, let’s break down some of them:

  • If you’re working with a solid mold, it’s better to dip your fingers into the paste then spread it over the base of the mold. After that apply the first layer of paper strips on the mold while spreading more glue on each paper strip before sticking it down.
  • Another method is to place the paper strips into the paste before applying it to the mold. This method is less time-consuming as you will be able to soak multiple strips at the same time. Just make sure to squeeze the paper stripes before applying them to the mold to get rid of any excess paste.

To make your Paper Mache more durable, it’s recommended to apply at least three layers of paper and to apply the paper strips in a cross-hatched pattern. It’s also recommended to allow the project to dry completely before sanding it or covering it with paint.

Related Questions

Are PVA-Based Glues Waterproof?

Most kinds of PVA-based glues are not completely waterproof. Although some of them are marketed as waterproof, they can still be affected by humidity. They might have enough water resistance in case of light contact with water but if they’re completely submerged, they will become diluted which means they will be less sticky.

Can You Make Paper Mache Waterproof?

You Can Paper Mache Waterproof by applying a layer of sealing varnish on your finished project. You can use epoxy or mod podge as a sealer, however, keep in mind that it will only be resistant to small amounts of water. If large amounts of water get into the project, it will cause it to get soft and might end up deforming it completely.

Helpful Resources 

What Is Papier Mâché?

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