Learning how to make paper mache earrings and other jewelry is not as hard as it may seem. With a few simple ingredients and a lot of creativity you will be making wearable art in no time.
Paper Mache History
Papier-mâché, or paper mache as it is commonly referred to, is derived from the French meaning "paper that is chewed up". This description is appropriate considering the process involves bits of torn paper mixed with a bonding adhesive. Started in the Middle East and Asia, the art of paper mache moved to Europe in the 1500s and is still widely used for carnival floats, theatrical masks and contemporary art today.
There are several variations to the basic paper mache recipe, but these are the best for creating jewelry because the salt prevents mold. Mix the first recipe at least 30 minutes before you plan to start construction so it has time to cool. Letting the mixture cool also makes it easier to handle because the paper will be malleable without the mixture being too runny.
- Boiling water: 1 cup
- Cold water: 1 cup
- Flour: ¼ cup
- Sugar: 1 ½ tablespoons
- Salt: 1 ½ tablespoons
In a large saucepan set to high, bring one cup of water to boiling. While waiting for the water to heat, mix an additional cup of cold water with the flour and whisk to remove as many lumps as possible. When the water in the saucepan begins to boil, slowly add the flour mixture and stir to incorporate. Bring back to a boil then remove from heat. Stir in the sugar and salt and let mixture cool to room temperature. This should be enough "paste" to make several sets of earrings depending upon the size of your finished design.
- Water: 1 ½ cups
- Flour: 1 cup
- Salt: ½ tablespoon
- White glue: ¼ cup
Mix water and flour together and stir vigorously to remove lumps. Add salt and glue, then stir until fully incorporated. If during your creative process the "paste" becomes too thick, add more water in one-tablespoon increments until you reach the desired consistency.
How to Make Paper Mache Earrings
Before starting the process, decide which type of earrings you are going to make. The most common paper mache earrings are made with paper pulp beads. The beads are formed from paper then strung as desired.
- Choose the paper you wish to use for your earrings. Make sure it is a matte type such as newspaper, card stock, or any other type of paper that includes fiber. Glossy paper used in magazines does not break down in the proper way to use for paper pulp beads. If you prefer glossy paper, opt for the rolled type of earrings.
- Tear the paper into small, random pieces and drop a pot of boiling water. Make sure to completely immerse the paper so it is fully covered.
- Remove from heat and let sit for several hours so the fibers can break down. Stir occasionally to ensure all the pieces are still coated.
- Place the mixture in a blender and "puree" until the consistency is that of runny mashed potatoes.
- Grab a handful and squeeze the excess water out of the mixture. Repeat until the mixture is moldable.
- Similar to making meatballs, take a pinch of mixture and roll in the palm of your hands to form a ball.
- Form balls with the remaining pulp, and then dip into paste mixture.
- Set each dipped bead on a cookie sheet and let dry.
- Based on how large your beads are, either drill a hole or string onto wire using a needle.
- Crimp the wire then attach to fishhook style earring loops.
After experimenting and learning how to make paper mache earrings, you will probably want to branch out into other forms of paper mache jewelry. Use the same process to create necklaces and bracelets to give as gifts for Christmas or birthdays.