So you have finished making your first Paper Mache project and now you want to paint it to give it the last finishing touch. But after you have spent so many hours creating it you are not sure how exactly you should paint it. In this article, I will go over everything, that you need to know about sealing your Paper Mache Project.
So do you have to seal Paper Mache before Painting? The short answer is no, generally, you don´t have to seal it. If you are painting your Paper Mache with Acrilyc Paint then you can apply the color right after your Paper Mache is completely dry. If you want to have a smooth surface, however, then you can seal your Paper Mache with Gesso, if you want to.
What are the Advantages of Sealing Paper Mache Before Painting it?
Generally, you don´t need to seal the raw Paper Mache before painting it but it can still be advantageous to seal it before painting.
So take a close look at your Paper Mache project, if you see a lot of wrinkling on the surface or some nasty gaps, bubbles or something of the sort then you should consider to either add another layer of Paper Mache and try to get rid of these uneven parts or you can seal it with a sealer to fill these uneven parts in.
So if you choose to seal your Paper Mache before painting, then I recommend using Gesso, especially if you are planning on using Acrylic paint for coloring.
Gesso will also fill in all these nasty gaps, that you may have on the surface of your project. You should keep in mind though, that gesso will not give you a very smooth surface. It will have a little texture to it after it is completely dry. You can get gesso here on Amazon or at your local crafts or art store.
Gesso will dry quite hard so keep that in mind before using it.
So in short, the Advantages of sealing Paper Mache before painting it are, that you can even out the surface of your project if you need to but if you are using Acrylic paint then you can paint your project without sealing it first, no problem.
What is the Best Way to Prepare Paper Mache for Painting?
So you don´t need to seal your Paper Mache in order to prepare it for painting.
If you chose not to seal your Project before painting it then make sure, that the surface is dust-free and also completely dry before you start painting it.
If your paper Mache is significantly cooler than the room temperature then chances are, that it is not completely dry yet. The glue mixture, that you use for making Paper Mache is water-based and it drys by water evaporation. A side effect of this is that Paper Mache is being cooled down while it drys. That´s how you can tell if your Paper Mache is completely dry to the core.
Also, make sure that none of your Paper Mache Layers are loose or have bubbles or other significant uneven parts, because you may still be able to see these uneven areas even after painting.
If you made sure, that everything is right, then you can start painting your Paper Mache with your Acrylic color.
If you want to seal your Project before Painting it, then you will first have to check if your Paper Mache is completely dry to the core, like I described above.
Then I would recommend using Gesso to prepare the surface of your Paper Mache. Gesso is a perfect ground for preparing almost any surface for Acrylic Paint and Paper Mache is no exception here.
So take a sponge or a sponge brush to apply the gesso to your Project in thin layers. Gesso will fill in any small cracks or uneven areas easily. After you covered your project in a thin layer of gesso let it dry for at least a day. Gesso will slightly change its color as soon as it drys.
Gesso will dry hard.
The surface is now ready to be painted with your acrylic paints.
Should I Seal Paper Mache After Painting it?
Yes, you should defiantly seal your Paper Mache after painting.
Sealing your Paper Mache will protect your paint job from the sun and other outside influence. It will also help your colors to stay vibrant. Most colors will fade or become dull after some time if they are not sealed.
When it comes to sealing your Paper Mache I would say you have two major options to choose from. One is sealing your Project with varnish and the other is sealing it with Mod Podge.
Both have their advantages and disadvantages and you can use them depending on the kind of project, and what you want to use your Paper Mache for.
Varnish is mostly used for sealing wood. It is drying transparent and hard. This will also make your project look shiny. So keep that in mind before you opt to use this option. I rarely use Varnish myself but that is only because almost all of my projects are looking better with a matt finish instead of a shiny one.
Varnish will also change the vibrancy of your colors a tiny bit! Varnish will dry hard.
If you want a matt finish for your Project, then I would recommend using Mod Podge. Mod Podge is easy to work with and it drys transparent, just like Varnish does. But, contrary to Varnish, it will actually dry matt and not shiny. You can get a lot of different kinds of Modpodge but I would recommend using regular matt Mod Podge.
You can Buy Mod Podge at your local crafts store or right here on Amazon. I would recommend getting a big bottle because you will need a lot. And Mod Podge can be used for a lot of crafts so you can easily use it in future projects.
Mod Podge will not dry hard so it still has a little give to it after drying. I usually use Mod Podge for almost all of my projects. Mainly because it is easy to work with and it is a little cheaper than Varnish.
If you want a very clean sealed final layer, then I would recommend using an Acrylic sealing spray. This spray behaves very similarly to Mod Podge but it is easier to apply evenly. You can buy it here on Amazon or at your local crafts store as always.
When you apply Mod Podge with a brush then you may see the brush marks after it has dried which is not good for some projects, so if you want to avoid this, then you should use a spray instead.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment. I will try and answer any questions as soon as possible.