Easy Trick for Smooth Paper Mache

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This is an easy way to make paper mache smooth, and it works with any brand of joint compound.

I used paper strips and paste for the mask in this demonstration, but you can use drywall joint compound with paper maché clay, too. You can even use it with the silky smooth air dry clay if it doesn’t come out quite as smooth as you want to.

You can use any brand of drywall joint compound, but apply it in a very thin layer. In the video you can see that I got a little sloppy and used too much in a few places. It doesn’t really hurt anything, but it takes longer to make it smooth.

This works on paper maché sculptures of any kind, whether you make them from scratch or make them from a pattern, and you can use it on both sculptures and masks.

Spreading the joint compound over the paper mache:

I spread the joint compound with a flexible silicone spatula.

Easy Trick for Smooth Paper Mache

I use a silicone tool with the point on it to take the joint compound out of important details that I don’t want to get lost under the joint compound, but a Q-Tip would work, too.

Easy Trick for Smooth Paper Mache

Smoothing the joint compound:

Let your sculpture or mask dry completely before going back over it with a damp sponge or cloth. With almost any brand of joint compound, it will be a lighter color when it’s completely dry.

Get your rag or sponge lightly damp. You don’t want to use too much water and don’t push down too much, or you’ll wash off all the joint compound .

Just softly rub the cloth over the drywall joint compound. You just want to t leave the drywall joint compound in the dips.

Easy Trick for Smooth Paper Mache

You don’t have to do any sanding, but you can if you really want to. If you used more drywall joint compound than you should have, it will take longer to remove it down to the right level with your damp rag or sponge. In that case you might want to grab some some 150 grit sandpaper. If you do that, take it outside so you don’t end up with that fine dust all over the house, and wear a mask to keep the fine dust out of your lungs.

When the joint compound is nice and smooth, set it aside to dry again. It will dry faster if you put it in front of a fan. Don’t paint it until it has turned almost white color.

Easy Trick for Smooth Paper Mache

Painting your paper mache mask or sculpture:

When the joint compound is completely dry , I recommend using a first coat of acrylic gesso or latex primer before painting to make it nice and white. When that’s dry you can finish painting your mask or sculpture.

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