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Papier mache originated in China, which is not very surprising as the Chinese invented paper, which they originally used to make helmets. Papier mache (which is French for ‘chewed paper’) is thought to have got its name from French workers in London papier mache shops. Papier mache is a sculpting medium made up of pieces of paper (such as our own bamboo toilet and kitchen rolls) that have been bound by an adhesive paste (just flour and water will do) that hardens when dry and can be elaborately decorated.
A great idea is to make a papier mache globe for a child’s bedroom. You will need a balloon, a cup of water, a cup of flour, a small paintbrush and 3 or 4 rolls of bamboo toilet paper. Firstly, blow up the balloon and knot the end. Next, the simple way to make papier mache is to tear up the bamboo toilet paper into strips. Once you have a good pile of pieces, put to one side whilst you make the paste. To make the paste, stir together one cup of flour and the same of warm water in a large mixing bowl until well combined. Add extra tap water a little at a time to loosen if you need to. You want a smooth, batter-like paste (think pancakes) with no lumps. You can sift the flour first for a super smooth finish that will save you time in the long run trying to flatten them out.
You will now need to cover your worksurface with newspaper (unless you want to spend time getting the paste off your table!). Dip the toilet paper strips in the paste, wipe off the excess on the side of the bowl and stick onto your balloon. Use a paintbrush to smooth down the paper and remove any air bubbles or excess paste. Repeat to cover the balloon and leave to dry before adding further layers.
Once you have built up multiple layers, leave it to dry. You can then decorate your globe using poster paints, and hey presto, you have yourself a bamboo paper, papier mache globe. If you are feeling really artistic, make the entire solar system and add to a mobile to hang from the ceiling.