Storing Paper Mache in Hot, Humid Climate???

How can you store paper mache Christmas ornaments so they’ll still be beautiful next year? Your suggestions are welcome.

Hi Everyone. A reader sent me a question I can’t answer, and I’m hoping you can help her out. She lives in Texas, and she wants to know the best way to protect a pair of paper mache snowmen she just found,. She normally puts her Christmas decorations in the attic, but she worries that the paper mache won’t survive the heat (or the humidity).

I live on the edge of a desert, so I am not the expert here. If you have any ideas at all, please post them below. I know Mary Jane will appreciate any help you can offer.

15 thoughts on “Storing Paper Mache in Hot, Humid Climate???”

  1. So far, no one live s on the Gulf Coast of S.W. Florida where the heat and humidity is mostly year round. Will a mixture of Wallpaper paste and salt keep mold away from the mapier mache’ pieces?

    • I don’t know the answer to that. Sorry. If the paste is sold locally, you might ask an interior decorator if they have any problem with mold growing on walls that have been papered using the paste. Even if they say it should work, you’ll still want to dry your new pieces completely, and fast. Then paint and seal them so the humidity in the air can’t be absorbed by the paper.

  2. What if you aren’t storing items but want them on show and its humid/damp ? We live in the UK and we are going to be selling our house this year and buying a narrowboat to live on and I am hoping to turn a little hobby into a little business and sell from the boat and they can be very hot in the summer and sometimes damp in the winter. Has anyone come across a good way of protecting their items without yellowing ?

  3. What about storing them with open jars of bi-carb / baking soda. It absorbs moisture, and is cheaper than silica gel, just a thought. I live in Queensland, Australia and the humidity gets very high here too, but I must admit I have had no trouble with mould or moisture due to the glue I use ( “Star” brand powdered starch that I boil up myself). I do have a problem with chewing insects, but that is because I haven’t finished the work with the proper varnish or sealant, I get a bit “over it” at the end of a project, only making more work for myself repairing chewed bits. lol You would need to check the bicarb occasionally as it can become quite damp, which will make it less absorbent, just replace it with some new powder and dry out the old, recycling as necessary. Just a thought, it works in clothing cupboards so should work with PM.

  4. I have lived all over the world, but am a Texas girl born and bred. The is a tried and true way to take care of the items that could get damaged by moisture. I learned this from my grandmother and she lived all her life in the southeast gulf area about 30 minutes from the beach, with swamps and a lot of small creeks, so a lot of moisture there. She cut holes in the bottom of large items and filled them with the silica used for flower drying. She also made sure each item was in its’ own box with extra put in the bottom of the box. She had paper mache items that were made by her grandmother and never any damage from moisture.

  5. I wouldn’t put something like that in an airtight container or even in plastic. It actually should be able to breathe or the moisture will cause condensation, warping and peeling with weather and humidity changes. Wrapping the items in acid-free tissue paper and putting them in an acid-free storage box in a closet is the best possible solution. Attic and basement should be the last alternative unless they are climate controlled.

    PS I’ve lived in humid conditions my whole life.

  6. I think Calamity Anne is right. I live in south Texas as well, and attic heat can warp plastic ornaments. You don’t want to see a plastic Santa yard ornament I had stored in the attic, he is now looks like something from a Tim Burton movie, LOL.
    If it is something that you want to keep forever, I would suggest storing it a climate controlled environment.
    Another note. I use PVA glue, rather than flour. With the bugs and humidity we have down here, I am afraid of using anthing that might be remotely edible or might invite mold, even sealed.
    I have a couple of my “second string” pumpkins stored in the attic this year, so I will be able to see how the heat affects them. I’m not entirely pleased with their design so they will be good for an experiment. I’ll let you know!

  7. I live in south Texas where we not only get searing heat, but there’s those occasional pesky hurricanes which can also wreck havoc on our homes…so anything that’s stored up in the attic is fair game, and more often than not, takes a terrible beating. Simple as it may sound, my only suggestion is to store whatever you don’t want to risk getting ruined somewhere in the house…like in the back of a closet.

  8. If there not really big-store them in the refrigerator-or find some place in the home a closet or something the heat would melt you before it did the sculpture. Ive had paper mache destroyed by the hot sun-not a good idea to exhibit them at fairs with the meanacing sun shining down

    • Nick, when you say the paper mache was destroyed by the sun, do you mean that the painted surface was damaged, or that the paper mache itself was damaged? I’m sure the paint would fade, and perhaps even peel, since most fine artwork should be kept out of direct sunlight. But if the paper mache was completely dry I can’t see why the sun would hurt it. Can you explain?

      Also, if you sell paper mache items at art shows, we’d all love to see some of your work. Do you have a website or a photo you could share?

  9. The only thing I can think of is to use silica gel beads. You can buy them or go to any shoe store and get the small packets that come with the shoes. Best of luck.

    • I was wondering where you get those little packets. That sounds like a good idea–but I suppose you would need to carefully wrap the snowmen and the silica gel packets together in an airtight container or plastic bag. Would the heat in her attic cause any damage? I don’t think it should, but I haven’t had an opportunity to find out.

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