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You’ve done it! You’ve made an awesome work of art with flour, water and newspaper. Now comes the really fun part: the finishing touches.

One of the beauties of paper mache is that anything is possible, and this is just as true in decorating as in construction. Your imagination is the limit. Here are just a few possibilities for really rocking that home stretch.

Obvious choice Number One. Go for acrylics on this one: they’re easy to use, cheap and come in a huge assortment of colors. Whenever you decorate using paint, always cover the project in a layer of white paint first. If you don’t, the newsprint will show through. (If that’s your intention, though, there you go!) India ink is great for detail work and borders.

What better way to adorn paper art than with more paper? You can go really crazy with this one. Wrapping paper, magazine clippings, tissue paper, concert tickets, confetti — it’s all game. You’ll want to coat this with a layer or two of clear varnish when you’re finished, to seal it and keep it protected, not to mention in place. (If you’re using translucent material, the same caveat about white paint and newsprint applies.)

Fur and Feathers
Aside from being a battle cry in the Redwall books, these are fantastic ways to add interest to a piece. Both are easy to pick up at craft supply stores and glue to a project. If you’re adding feathers, wire or anything else that’s pointy and stiff, I’d recommend poking a hole where you want to place your decoration, putting a dab of glue there and securing the object within the sculpture itself.

Shiny Things
Rhinestones! Fake jewels! Glitter pens! Mirror panels! Glass mosaic pieces! Tinsel! Nail Polish! It’s all game. Make your inner Elvis impersonator proud.

Best of all, you can mix and match. Again, this is what you’ve been working toward — have fun with it! First, though, some tips before you start:

  • Make sure your project is totally dry before you start decorating. It should be slightly warm to the touch, and not cool or damp in any way. If you’re desperately impatient, you can try a hair dryer or a rack in a warm oven, but it’s probably best just to wait a few more hours.
  • Sand your surfaces if you don’t want a final product with all the bumps, bubbles and blobs from the flour paste and not-totally-flat newspaper. It doesn’t have to be industrial-grade smooth (and make sure you don’t sand through your layers of paper), but a little attention with a medium-grain paper can work wonders.
    Above all, enjoy yourself. This will come through in the final piece, I promise!

    Do you have a finished project you’re particularly proud of? Drop me an email — I’d love to feature it in an upcoming blog post!

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