Foil and Hot Glue Armatures for Paper Mache

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Are you in a hurry to get your paper mache project done?

Paper mache and paper mache clay will dry just fine without being baked.

However, if your armatures are safe to use in the oven, baking your sculptures can really speed things up.

If you’re using crumpled paper and masking tape for your armatures, they won’t melt in the oven – but the hot masking tape tends to curl up on the areas that are still exposed.

I’m not usually in a hurry when I make a sculpture, but it can be frustrating when you want to keep working but you have to stop until the wet parts are dry. You’re in the flow and don’t want to stop, but you can’t hold onto wet paper mache.

When I made the Three Wise Men, I used polymer clay for the heads, hands and feet. That meant they had to go in the oven. That was the first time I baked a foil and hot glue armature, and I was surprised when it worked.

But it still made me nervous to put that hot glue in the oven …

Thanks to our friend Carib Queen, who suggested covering the armature with a special foil tape, we now have a way to safely bake a paper mache sculpture that’s built over a foil and hot glue armature.

No chance that the glue will melt and drip in your oven, and no small pieces of foil will fall off.

I also like the way the tape smooths out the crumpled foil just enough so it’s easier to see the shapes better. Maybe it’s just my old eyes, but the sparkles from the crumpled foil make it hard for me to see if the shapes are symmetrical or bumpy. It was easier to see what was going on after the tape was added.

I baked the little cat head at 250° F (121.111° C). There’s no way to know exactly how long it will take to dry all the way through. Never paint paper mache if there’s even a drop of water still inside.

You can find the foil tape on amazon.com.

I think I said the tape cost about $6 in the video. It was actually $8 – but the roll has 50 yards of tape so it should last a long time if you only use it on the outside of the foil and hot glue armature.

Bu the way, this tape is used to repair heating ducts, but it is not “duct tape.” Totally different stuff. :)

You can find the first video in the Wise Men series here.

If you make an armature with aluminum foil, hot glue and the special foil tape, please let us know what you think of it in the comments below. I’d really like to get your feedback on this method.

13 thoughts on “Foil and Hot Glue Armatures for Paper Mache”

  1. Joni,
    I was so inspired by your three wise men and the idea of the foil and hot glue. Making some special throws for next years Mardi Gras parade and decided to try. I have a air fryer oven and used it instead on my oven. It worked great and I love that it is portable and can even use outside. It is already warm where I live and I love working outside on my deck. Love your website!

  2. Ohh what a great idea – I never ever thought to put my things in the oven.
    Im going to do that with my next project for sure.
    And the Idea with the foil seems so good too.
    Thanks so much for all your helpfull and interesting videos.

  3. Excuse my ignorance, but which of your recipes for ‘paper mache clay’ did you use for this method? I am wanting to make something for the first time in years.

    • Hi Christine. I used the original paper mache clay recipe, but the air dry clay should work just as well. I think it would work for the paste recipes with paper strips, too. As long as they can be dried at a low temperature in the oven, it should work. Have fun with it!

  4. I have been possessed by the metal tape. I picked up a roll Monday, and it’s only Tuesday. I made two small penguins and wrapped them in this tape. It didn’t take long. What surprised me even more was how easy and fast the paper mache clay went on. Within an hour I had the two small baby penguins cooked and dry with their first coat. Before this metal tape demonstration, that would have taken me at least three days. I would have tried a final coat of clay, but my dog insisted on her walk.

    When I got up this morning, I applied this tape to the “mom and dad” penguin wings. It is easy. I did it over breakfast!

    I like the way it goes on. I can see little nicks and crevices before I begin adding clay, and it is nothing to add a little dob of foil and then cover it.

    The only negative part is that the glue gums up my scissors. I finally learned just to clip where I wanted it to tear, and it tears easily.

    There was no hot glue in the oven or other residue. I am a fan. Thanks, Jonni.

  5. What an excellent idea thanks to Caribe Queen! I use this aluminium tape a lot for embossing. I put it over Kraft paper and then run it through the embossing machine before wrapping it around a tin can other object. But… I never thought to use it with paper Mache. Thanks so much for posting this and Happy new Year to you and your families!

  6. The local store will have a roll for me on Monday. I’m way excited to try it, and I can’t imagine why it wouldn’t work. I have had hot glue in the oven (it may still be there!) and quit trying to second guess. I like, also, that you don’t have to cut the tape. I’m working on a little pig (everyone loves them) and I could have been finished three days ago.

    Thank you. More later.

    What a great experiment.


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