How to Make Paper Furniture

    by Ann Johnson

    About the Author

    Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real-estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University, Fullerton.


    In Europe during the 1700s, papier-mâché furniture became a popular and inexpensive alternative to the elaborate gilded furniture of the day. Papier-mâché can be made by mixing up torn pieces of paper with a glue-like liquid. The liquid can be flour- or starch-based, or some other glue-like sticky substance. When it dries, the surface hardens. The process can involve wrapping a surface with strips of newspaper that has been dipped in the liquid, or the paper can be mixed with the liquid to form a clay-like substance that can be molded and shaped. After you create one simple piece of papier-mâché furniture, your imagination will see the endless possibilities. Begin by making a small end table.

    Things You'll Need

    • Cardboard box
    • Cardbood paper tubes
    • Newspaper
    • Liquid starch
    • Acrylic paint
    • Varnish
    • Paint brush
    • Masking tape

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    Gather together empty paper towel rolls or gift wrap rolls. The long cardboard tubes will be used as the base for the table legs. You will be making four table legs, each approximately 24 inches long. If you are using paper towel rolls, several will need to be fitted together to create one leg.

    Find a box approximately 12 by 20 inches and about 6 inches deep for the table top. Close the empty box and use masking tape to seal all the openings, as if you were taping a box for shipping.

    Assemble four 24-inch table legs out of the cardboard tubes. If necessary, squeeze the end of one roll to fit snuggly into the end of another roll and wrap the edges with masking tape. Push the roll in far enough so it does not wobble.

    Cut four round holes on the bottom of the box table top, slightly smaller than the diameter of the ends of the cardboard tubes. Place each hole at a corner, identically spaced on all four corners. Use a measuring tape for better accuracy.

    Gently push a table leg into each hole. The table’s height should be 28 inches from the floor to the top of the table top. Push the legs in until it is that height. Use the masking tape to secure the legs in place.

    Cover the entire exterior with strips of torn newspaper that have been dipped in liquid starch. Wrap the strips around the leg jointing. When the newspaper dries, the surface will harden. Allow the paper to dry, and then give several more coats of papier-mâché for a hard shell.

    Paint the table with acrylic paint when the papier-mâché is dry. Finish with a coat of varnish.

    • Add a drawer to the table by cutting an opening in the side of the table top with a box cutter, and wrap the cut edges with papier-mâché. Make a drawer out of another box and insert it in the opening.
    • Remove excess liquid from each newspaper strip before adding the strip to the table.

    Photo Credits

    • Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images