Do You Let Paper Mache Dry Between Layers?

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Paper mache (or Papier-mâché) is a technique where pieces of paper are bound and layered on top of each other with an adhesive. By repeating this process several times you achieve a hardened shell of paper. You can form paper mache into many different forms and the material is easy and fun to use. But do you have to let paper mache dry in between layers?

Paper mache should dry in between layers but you don´t have to let it dry in between each individual layer. Allowing it to dry after every third or fourth layer before applying more is enough. Applying too many layers at once may result in inadequate drying for some layers.

How Can I Tell If a Layer Is Dry?

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if a layer has dried completely or if it is still wet under the surface. So how can you tell if your paper mache is completely dry?

A really easy trick to tell if your paper mache is dry is to see how cold it is. Paper mache is normally made with water-based glue and that glue dries by evaporating and when water evaporates it cools the paper mache down. So the paper mache will be a little cooler than its surroundings while it’s still drying.

So if your paper mache is very cold, then it may still be drying but if it has room temperature or is only slightly below the room temperature then it is dry.

How Long Does Paper Mache Take to Dry?

It depends heavily on the surrounding temperature, the type of paper, and the type of glue used. Generally, I would suggest letting your paper mache dry for 12 hours before you check if it is still wet. If you want to make sure that it is dry then consider waiting for 24 hours.

The drying time of paper mache is influenced by the surrounding room temperature, with higher temperatures leading to faster drying. Additionally, the absorbency of the paper used plays a role in the drying process. The quantity and type of glue used can also impact the overall drying time.

Can I Speed Up the Dying Process?

To accelerate the drying time of paper mache, you can use a hairdryer to apply heat or position the paper mache in a warm room. Enhancing ventilation by placing the paper mache near an open window will also contribute to quicker drying times.

Instead of a hairdryer, you could also use a heat gun but be very careful as a heat gun can´t be used for longer periods of time and they get way hotter than a regular hairdryer.

Also, be careful not to heat your paper mache irregularly. If you only heat one spot until it is dry and then move on to the next spot then your paper mache could deform. So heat your paper mache up evenly to ensure that it dries evenly.

If you want to be safe though, I would suggest either letting it dry near a small heat source or just naturally.

I would also recommend letting it dry completely on its own after you apply the final layer. This will ensure a good and robust final paper mache layer.

Hi, I am a passionate maker and professional prop maker for the entertainment industry. I use my woodworking, programming, electronics, and illustration know-how to create interactive props and puzzles for Escape Games and marketing agencies. And I share my knowledge and my experience on this blog with you so that you can become a maker yourself.

6 thoughts on “Do You Let Paper Mache Dry Between Layers?”

  1. This is the best advice. I have been making paper mache fuselages for radio controlled gliders. The layers are pasted over a plug with newspaper and pva wood glue, they can be up to a metre in length and tapered from the cockpit to the tail, so warping can be a big problem. The secret is as explained by craftknights, let 3 to 4 layers dry off then repeat the process. for me After 14 to 16 layers allowing the drying process, I also leave the mache on the plug for 3 to 5 days. When you do this. the stress from the larger mass to the thinner regions is you could say is equalised or neutralised.


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