I dont know about you guys, but I always get a real satisfaction from creating something out of nothing.

Ive always loved to recycle stuff and create items from scratch, I find it very rewarding working with items which would normally be condemned to the bin. Waste not, want not; thats my motto!

For this challenge we are going to revisit probably one of the very first craft techniques we learned at school! Which is of course….Papier Mache!

How many of you remember blowing up a balloon at school and covering it with newspaper and glue to make a lovely handmade bowl for mothers day or easter?

I used to be fasinated by papier mache, amazing isnt it how by applying layers of newspaper and glue and allowing it to dry you can create an unique handcrafted piece of art!

For this challenge we are going to use basic papier mache skills to create a simple or intricate frame using papier mache and cardboard.

Once finished the papier mache frames can be used as shrines, or to hold photographs, atcs, artwork, certificates – just about anything really!

You are welcome to follow the basic steps outlined here on this site, or go ahead and make your own thing! This is only meant as a guide to help springboard your ideas…

Read on for details on how to get started…..

Step 1

For step 1 of the challenge we will concentrate on how to create the main frame using cardboard and papier mache.
Supplies needed for the first step are:

  • Card Board
  • Newspaper
  • White Pva Glue
  • Water
  • Plastic Container
  • Paint Brush
  • Craft Knife (optional)
  • Scissors
  • White Acrylic or Gesso

Additional Information On Supplies:

Card Board – For this challenge all you need to get started is a simple card board box! You can recycle any card board, I found that the heavy duty variety is best but this is not essential as you can make it more sturdy by adding double layers to it.

Newspaper – For each frame you need approx 2 large sheets of double spread newspaper torn up into smallish pieces.

White PVA Glue – This is basic cheap white school glue, you can use brand names if you prefer such as royal coat or modge pod but the cheap variety works just as well. I use Anitas brand, in the US you can use Elmers.

Water – This is for watering down the glue when you come to add the papier mache layers.

Plastic Container – For mixing the glue and water in; I used the cut off bottom of a 2 litre pop bottle.

Paint Brush – or a plastic spoon to mix the water and glue together with.

Craft Knife – If you want to create a hole in your frame you will need to use a craft knife to cut it out. Dont worry if your shaky with your knife cos you can get around this!

Scissors – Essential for cutting up card board and building up 3-d layers on your frame.

White Acrylic or Gesso – For priming your papier mache frame once it has dried ready for painting.

Making The Frame:

Theres a number of ways you can create your frame, it all depends on the basic shape you want it to take. To make any of the frames shown on this page just follow the instructions beneath each photograph (or make your own style frame!)

  • Frame 1 – Basic Frame:

Frame 1

  • Instructions For Frame 1 (above):

Take 3 sheets of card board all cut the same size, set 1 sheet aside for now, using glue, stick the other 2 layers together to create a double sandwich. Now using a craft knife cut out a hole in the centre of the double layer of card board to make a frame. The hole shown above is the same size as an ATC, I placed an atc in the centre of the cardboard and cut around it allowing a small border. Once you have made a hole in the 2 layer cardboard, glue them both onto the 3rd sheet of cardboard (the one which hasnt been cut) to create a back cover. Allow glue to dry.

  • Frame 2 – Archway:

  • Instructions For Frame 2 (above):

Take 2 exact same size long rectangular sheets of cardboard and glue them back to back to create a sandwich. Next use a round plate or a cd as a template, place it at the top of the cardboard and draw round the shape, then cut along the circle to create an archway. Using the plate you drew around to create the archway; create another circle from a scrap piece of cardboard, and cut it into a small border, glue over the top of the cardboard base. Cut 3 long strips of cardboard and glue them down as shown in the photo above to create a border for the archway. Dont worry about being neat as you will cover this up in the next step. Finally to create depth I added an extra strip of card to the base of the archway to make a step. Allow glue to dry.

  • Frame 3 – House:

  • Instructions For Frame 3 (above):

As before, take 2 sheets of cardboard the exact same size and glue together to create a sandwich. Cut the top of the board into a triangle shape to create a house roof, if your worried about cutting it wrong, make a template first using scrap paper and use this as a guide. Cut another triangle shape from spare cardboard, and affix it to the front of the roof to make it more 3 dimensional. Attach another strip of card below this. Cut out 3 long strips of card (dont worry about neatness) and glue them down onto the left, right an bottom parts of the house to create a border. Now cut 3 thinner strips and make a bordered interior as shown in the picture above and glue down. – I cut the strips down a little as a time until they slip in the spaces easily kinda like a jigsaw. Let glue dry.

  • Frame 4 – House 2:

  • Instructions For Frame 4 (above):

Frame 4 is a slight variation on frame #3, this time I opted for a tall thinner version and used less strips inside it.

Applying The Papier Mache:

Once you’ve got your basic shape of your frame, its time to start adding the papier mache layers!

To make your papier mache you need to water down your white glue – use equal parts water to glue (depending on the thickness of the glue) You want the consistency of milk.

Tear the newspaper up into small strips – variate the sizes of the strips – long thin strips are idea for wrapping around the edges and smaller strips are perfect for slipping inside the nooks and crannys.

Dip the newspaper into the glue and water mix and slap it onto the cardboard, you want to completely cover the surface of the cardboard. How many layers you add is completely up to you, you can add more or less.

As a guide I used roughly 3 complete layers of torn newspaper on each frame. I added more layers to the edges and the joins to create a perfect seam.

Adding more layers in different areas creates texture and built up areas so exxperiment as you add your papier mache.

Once you have covered the board, set it aside to dry overnight.

You should then have something which looks a little like these below:

Preparing The Frame For Painting:Once the glue has dried on your papier mache frame it will be rock solid! I just love that! Now its time to prime it and get it ready for painting and decorating!

To do this I apply 2 layers of either white acrylic paint, or gesso. If you dont have white paint or gesso – dont worry – any light colour acrylic paint will do!

Paint it on and let it dry ready for Stage 2 of the challenge – or if your too impatient…go ahead and paint it anyway!

Once primed your frames may look like these:

Step 2

Once you’ve prepped your papier mache frame you can decorate it any way you choose!This is the REAL part of the challenge! Think of ways you can decorate your frame!

These frames will take pratically any type of paint or ink so experiment! Use acrylics or gouche paints or even inks! You can add textured paints too! I added interest using 3d fabric paints to draw on lines and squiggles which I painted over once dry. Another way to add interest is to stick on silver tape and add colour with alcohol inks! Or cut up pieces of unwanted cds and glue them on the frame using diamond glaze. Its up to YOU!

Heres some examples of what I did:

Using Cd Pieces:

I painted the frame with black acrylic, then cut out a cd to make a mosaic around the frame. Colour was added to the pieces using alcohol inks, finally I added german scrap stars to finish. The hole in the centre of the frame is large enough to house an artist trading card which is what I am going to use it for.

Using 3d Fabric Paint:

First of all I added dimension using 3d glue and drew on dots and swirls. Then I painted it maroon acrylic, next I dry brushed over in gold acrylic, then finally added the cut out picture and the stamped quote to finish.

Silver Tape:

First of all I drew blocks using 3d fabric glue, when it had dried I covered the frame with silver tape. I brayered over to make the rigdes appear through the tape. Then added colour with alcohol inks and added german scrap highlights to finish.