Nina's Textile Trail 2

– Textiles 1: Mixed Media for Textiles

MMT Part 3 Molding & Casting – Papier Mache

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(paper workbook pages 15-23)

Materials – Papier mâché

Papier mâché can be made by pulping or layering paper with adhesive.  Consider materials for different effects.

  • Use mulberry tissue, lokta or other long fibres to make more distinctive papier mâché.
  • blotting paper and acrylic gel medium, seal with varnish when dry, matt, satin or gloss will all give different results
  • embed free stitching on water soluble paper, or threads into paper pulp by lining mold with lokta tissue, then stitched cold water soluble film, press wet formed paper sheet or pulp firmly on top.
  • Use water soluble paper a quick easy option, results can be fine and delicate. Use a wooden block to make a cast.
  • Colour pulp with watered down paints, acrylics, inks, tea coffee, walnut ink dripped from brush or pipette.
  • Magie Hollingsworth suggests greaseproof paper is great for thin forms “shrinks amazingly, more so than other papers”
  • Collage papers could also be used, decorative, but less suited to textural casts.
  • Long fibres for large areas or ‘strong’ constructions
  • Heavier papers (brown wrapping & cartridge) good for large pieces of work
  • Fine papers (tissue, papers towels and crepe paper) ideal for creasing & adding fine features.
  • Organic  materials such as leaves, stems, crumbled or ground, onion skins, tea, dried herbs, fibres, threads, sawdust can be added to pulp to produce a subtle range of shades as it dries.
  • set fine wire into layers of fine tissue so the piece can be shaped.

Safety Considerations

  • Avoid contact with eyes and mouth
  • wash hands after use
  • do not eat or drink whilst using


Magie Hollingworth – I was introduced to the work of Magie Hollingworth by a friend who had attended a vessel making workshop with her at West Dean College in 2010.  Magie takes papier mâché far beyond the level we might be familiar with from our school days!  The Pinterest selection below illustrates the variety of her work.   Her cast vintage spoons show the capacity for lightweight papers to capture texture.  The matt black lokta tissue is a lovely choice to define the beauty of the spoon.  The use of decorated papers and dressmaking tissue on the conical vase add interest and contrast with the roughness of the paper pulp on the inner surface. The unadorned paper pulp offers a fragility that I enjoy.

I am drawn to vessels so small curving bowls I can cup in my hands and run my fingers gently over the textured surface appeal.   Some artisan mugs have the same effect.  Pinterest offered a wealth of beautiful, delicate, translucent bowls for inspiration, although I must remember to focus on capturing texture, not making bowls!

Ines Seidel – I looked at Ines’ work in  Assignment 2 Joining & Wrapping,  but was particularly drawn to her beautifully delicate, translucent bowls using papier mâché techniques, examples of which are included in the pinterest selection above.  Petra Poolen –  produces similarly ethereal, gossamer, diaphanous bowls.  The appeal is in the combination of simple materials in a neutral or pale colour scheme, allowing the beauty of texture and natural material to shine through.  A translucency allowing the fibres or inclusions to be outlined adds to the aesthetic.


I started with layered papiermâché, using old book pages torn into strips and a 50/50 mix of pva and wallpaper paste using recycled packaging as the mold.  It took a couple of days to dry.

Whilst I like the effect of the paper used, the texture of the packaging was not captured and I found the technique of using lots of strips of paper a bit tedious and sticky.  The surface had a ‘satin’ finish and was pleasing.


Far more appealing was the idea of using fine papers in whole layers like Magie Holingworth’s black lokta paper spoons, trying to capture the translucency of Ines Seidel and Petra Poolen’s work or experimenting with water soluble paper. The following were quite successful.  Top left water soluble paper, moistened and pushed into the crevices with a paint brush, good texture, slightly crunchy finish.  Top right, nice feel to it, three or four layers of tea bag paper, some texture captured but only noticeable once highlighted with an oil pastel.  Middle right, four layers of natural lokta tissue, good texture, quite stiff and opaque, two layers might be more translucent and delicate.  Bottom, two to three layers of lokta tissue. Good texture both sides, nice feel, matt, warm surface.

Trying the water soluble paper a little thinner produced an effective cast of a leaf, with some almost transparent areas.  Using the same method to push pulp into an indian wood block produced interesting results.  The paper absorbed old colour from the block giving an aged look and the pieces were sturdy but very lightweight with a  delicate look.


The most successful papers were the very lightweight hand made lokta and mulberry tissues, which captured texture well and dried quickly if only two or three layers were used.  It was helpful to press kitchen tissue against the piece to absorb excess moisture before leaving it to dry.  The soluble paper was quick to use but slow to dry.  9gm lens/abaca tissue was effective and had a lovely feel and finish, although heavier 21gm abaca tissue didn’t work for me at all, nor did a heavier lokta tissue.  Some texture was just about discernible on the natural coloured tissue but none were as effective as those used above.


Bawden, J (1990) The Art & Craft of Papier Mâché Mitchell Beazley International Ltd London

Campbell-Harding, Valerie & Grey, Maggie (2006) Stitch, Dissolve Distort with Machine Embroidery, Batsford, London

Grey, Maggie, Wild, Jane (2007)  Paper Metal Stitch, Batsford, London

Holmes, C (2010) The Found Object in Textile Art, Batsford, London.


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