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I have tried paper mache atleast a million times and it never gets rock hard it gets tough but not solid still a little bit flimsy you know. What am i doing wrong? Im sure 5-7 layers is enough and i use a 50/50 mix white glue and water. Am i missing something? I always get angry with it when its still flimsy and wind up dropping the elbow on it and drop kicking it into the trash. Any ideas?
 

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I used 7 layers also and it was just still to thin so I added a thick layer of celluclay. It tended to soften up the paper mache underneath so the bottom of my pumpkin ended up really flat but it did make for a hard sandable surface. I think next time I'll just use the celluclay.
 

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Are you sure the layers were completely dry? This can take a while, especially if you do more than 3 layers at a time.

I'm not a fan of the white glue/water mix, myself. Always preferred the flour pastes. I have 2 HUGE mache projects that used 50/50 wood glue, and I had to coat them with monster mud because it just wasn't 'right' as well.

I've heard mixing flour into the 50/50 recipe can work, I've also read people mixing in plaster of paris to help with the strength.

The last recipe I came up with produced a pinata so tough at 7 layers that it took 32 UNBLINDFOLDED 10 year old kids GIVING UP on breaking it, so an adult took several swings with a baseball bat to break it apart.

The UnOrthOdOx Power Grab Paper Mache

Need: 1 tube all purpose Power Grab
2 cups Flour
Water
Salt
pot you don't mind possibly ruining.

Measure 6 cups of water into the pot and bring it to a boil.
While it's heating up, in another bowl measure 5 cups water, 2 cups flour, some salt to prevent mold, and 1 tube power grab. I used a whisk I bought at the local good will store.

Now, add the contents into the boiling water, stirring constantly till it reaches the desired consistancy. Think pancake batter. (About 3-5 min) Let cool before using.

*Optional* If the smell bothers you, add in some cinnamon to the mixture to mask it somewhat.

This stuff, has been a joy to work with so far.

With only 3 layers, it was strong enough to remove from the molds, and hold it's shape while applying more layers. And, with only 3 layers, it could withstand me squeezing on it with flattened hands. But, it did tear in a spot when Jen put that pressure more on her fingertips. Not a problem for the pinata at this point, and valuable information for future halloween uses.

Once I get a fair few more layers on, I'll be curious just how many kids will have to wail away at this thing before it breaks.

Now, as for the warning on the pot. I bought a junker pot just for these kinds of things. Boiling newspapers, making wierd experiments, etc. And, while it was in poor shape to begin with, we managed to take off more of it's teflon while cleaning the glue off.
However, I bought a case of Powergrab in early October, and it is just not the same. Locktite has not answered me whether they changed the formula, or if I got a bad case.
 

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I have always used wallpaper paste and it works beautifully. Mix it to normal strength and soak your paper in it. I find that 2 or 3 layers is solid with that stuff, then once those have dried, I add 2 or 3 layers more. You have to work in two stages though, or the middle gets "sealed" and never really dries properly...so you have a soggy center, lol.
 

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Paper Mache can be a strange beast to work with.
Each person has to find the right mix and layering technique that works for them and their situation.

I think that you may be watering down your mix a bit too much.
I use a 2-1 ratio of glue and water. I also add a bit of flour as a stiffener.
I have also found that using wood glue works much better as it bonds better with the paper (cellulose) fibers.
I do 1 layer at a time. 3 Newspaper, 2 Paper towel (single ply) and 2 Toilet Paper (single ply). Making sure each layer is dry before adding another.
The end result is quite rigid, but has a tiny bit of flex to it.
 
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