Cooked Flour and Water Paste Recipe – And When to Use It

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This is how I make cooked flour and water paste for my paper mache sculptures.

I normally use the raw paste recipe when I use paper strips and paste, but there are times when it makes sense to take a few extra minutes and cook the paste, instead. In this video I show you when it’s worth the trouble.

Also check out my new video,

If you’d rather read the instructions instead of watching the video: Paste or Glue – Which One is Better for Your Next Paper Mache Project?

cooked flour and water paste 1

Step 1:

Add one cup of cold water to a small sauce pan.

Cooked paper mache paste 2

Step 2:

Add two tablespoons of white all-purpose flour.

Cooked flour and water paste 3

Step 3:

Whisk the flour and water to make a smooth mixture without lumps.

cooked flour and water paste 4

Step 4:

Cook on medium-high, stirring constantly, until the mixture starts to boil. Let it cook for another minute, and then take it off the stove and allow it to cool before using.

Cooked flour and water paste 5

Your paste should be nice and smooth.

Make only as much as you think you’ll use in one day. It will start to lose its stickiness if you keep it overnight, because wild yeast will try to turn it into bread dough.

Cooked paste and raw paste.

Raw and cooked paste, side by side.

The cooked paste is shown on the left, the raw flour and water paste is on the right.

As you can see, the cooked paste dries clear, and the surface texture is smooth.

The raw flour and water paste will leave residue of flour on the surface, so it doesn’t work well if you want the color of the paper to show on the final sculpture.

Both the raw and cooked paste recipes seem to hold the paper together equally well.

If you have a preference between the paste recipes, or if you know of a recipe I haven’t tried yet, be sure to leave a comment below.

    24 thoughts on “Cooked Flour and Water Paste Recipe – And When to Use It”

    1. I have avoided using a flour-based clay partly because of my past experiences with pests, namely roaches and rodents. I’m reminded of a rental I lived in that had pressed-paper panels from when the house was built in the 1930’s. The place was over-run with roaches! I was allowed to replace that old panelling with drywall and was horrified to see how the roaches were eating and thriving on the paper. I removed ALL of the offending panels and drywalled the entire kitchen. It took care of my roach problem. Wallpaper paste was notorious for attracting insects as well. I’ve always been concerned about mice and rats, but haven’t heard anything to support my fears. Anything that could be used, like boric acid, might work, but that would make it toxic to an errant puppy or curious child. Am I being overly concerned?

    2. I’ve always used wallpaper paste but I’m running out and I also enjoy an experiment. That said, I’ve always been leery of the flour paste because… bugs? Mold? Please put my mind at ease!

      • Hi Diana. Several years ago I made a video about how to keep mold from ruining your paper mache sculptures. The basic idea was to make sure your paper mache dries fast enough and then seal it paint and varnish so moisture from the air can’t get in. Fungi can’t reproduce without water, but it doesn’t take much. However, if you live in a really humid area where it’s almost impossible to get anything dry fast enough, then you might want to consider using Elmer’s Art Paste. It’s made with methyl cellulose (from trees) and mold has no interest in it. One small box makes a gallon of paste. You can leave the paste in an open container for months and it won’t go bad. I made a video about that, too. 🙂

        • Thanks so much for the quick reply!

          Oddly (or not) I’ve never had a problem with mold – not once, but I’ve always made my stuff w/wallpaper paste.

          And I have a tendency to make “thicc” paper mache items. Which I won’t anymore. I just got back into making paper mache and I never knew that – less is more. And I like the idea of a thin, shell-like object.

          I actually have a bag of methyl cellulose from a previous experiment making pastels. Now, look at this interesting thing:


          Since I love the idea of using what I got, I’m going to experiment with this.

          But look at what they say:

          “Methyl cellulose is not as strong as starch pastes.”

          Interesting, no? The flour paste is stronger. (That may not be the case with Elmer’s. I’m positive that they create a very durable product.)

          I’ve never had a problem with any of my items made with wallpaper paste. I’ve had some for many years and they are strong, strong, strong.

    3. Apropos the wild yeast — is there a reason you don’t add a mold retardant like salt (or as the commenter from Brazil mentioned, vinegar)?

      • The only problem with the yeast is that it takes the stickiness out of the paste if you make more than you can use in one day. It’s easy to make, so I just throw out whatever is left in one day’s work and make more the next day. My yeast bread rises even though it has salt in it, so I don’t know if that would keep the paste from trying to turn itself into sourdough starter. It might – you can always give it a try.

    4. I want to make a elephant for my stairway. For the legs head ears body and trunk, what do you recommend I use
      Please and thank you.

    5. I’ve been using a similar recipe for awhile now, and I really like how strong and smooth my strip layers are. I have also used this recipe with good success using rice flour (Bob’s Mill). It feels a bit grittier as you apply the strips but dries to a smoother touch than wheat flour. With both kinds of flour I found that I really helps to sift before you measure.

    6. Dear Jonny,
      This is another interesting and helpful video. Thanks very much. Jnteresting to see that flour and water make a strong paper mache. Here in Germany this is not very common. People use to work with wallpaper glue and newspapers….

    7. olá, querida.
      Grata por nos oferecer seu precioso tempo e compartilhar conosco suas experiências com o papel machê. Vou experimentar essa receita de cola cozida que aqui no Brasil chamamos de “grude”; era usado como cola para “pipa” – também conhecida por papagaio, pandorga. Atualmente eu uso uma “goma” que aprendi com uns amigos da cidade mineira de “São Tomé das Letras” e fica ótima para colar papeis. Ela é feita com “polvilho azedo’ (usado em receitas de pão de queijo) e água, são duas colheres de sopa bem cheias de polvilho para 250ml de água e uma colher de sobremesa de vinagre (evitar o mofo): colocar numa panela e deixar cozinhar até ferver. Desliga o fogo e deixar esfriar, ela dá uma boa liga, fica transparente e cola muito bem.

      • Hi Sara. Thanks for your tip. I don’t think we have that product here in the US, but I always enjoy learning about all the ways that people make paper mache.

        Sara’s comment per Google translate:

        Hello dear.
        Thank you for offering us your precious time and sharing with us your experiences with papier maché. I will try this recipe of cooked glue that here in Brazil we call “grude”; was used as glue for “kite” – also known as parrot, pandorga. Currently I use a “gum” that I learned with some friends from the Minas Gerais city of “São Tomé das Letras” and looks great to paste papers. It is made with ‘sour sprinkles’ (used in cheese bread recipes) and water, are two tablespoons full of sprinkle for 250ml of water and a spoonful of vinegar dessert (avoid the mold): put in a pot and cook until boiling. Turn off the heat and let it cool, it gives a good bond, stays transparent and glues very well.

    8. Merci, je connais cette recette, mais je l’utilise plus comme une colle.
      Je préfère l’autre recette, plus facile pour le modelage.
      Bien amicalement.

    9. Thank you for taking the time to show us the differences between the two techniques, Jonni! I wonder if cornstarch and water might work too? Have you ever heard of using this as a paper mache paste?

      • I used corn starch and water for my raccoon, but it took forever to dry. I think it absorbed moisture from the air, and it’s really humid here in Minnesota during the summer. Many people use laundry starch for paper mache, and they say it works well.

    10. Thanks Jonni
      We always used cooked flour and water paste when I was teaching Decorative Paint Techniques back in the 1990s. But I was taught to soak the flour for a while before cooking it. I don’t suppose it makes much difference, but I thought I’d mention it!
      Thanks again for all your inspiring posts
      Best wishes


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