A form of papier-mâché, a French word that means “chewed paper,” existed in ancient Egypt, in a technique called cartonnage. It is made when layers of linen or papyrus was covered with plaster over an object.
The Persians took this technique and manufactured small painted boxes, trays, étagères and cases. Then, around 1725, people in Europe started to use gilded papier-mâché as a low-cost alternative to carved wood or plaster in architectural details.
Today I thought my youngest should learn how to make our very own letter from papier-mâché, starting with a cereal box.
We picked the letter د, pronounced as dāl, the eighth letter of the Arabic alphabet. We picked an easy letter that had no dots, but I think next time we try this, we are going to make the tutorial a little more challenging.
My daughter started by cutting out the Arabic letter and outlined it twice on the cereal box.
She then cut out both letter outlines from the cereal box.
She also cut out three strips of the side of the box, making sure they are very even since they will be the letter walls.
My daughter used the tape to secure the walls to the letter. She found it easier to tape when she bent and played with a side before she tried to add it.
Once all the sides were secured, she added the second letter cut out to the top.
Now it was time to cut the newspaper into stripes of paper that were similar in size.
My daughter added the newspaper with Mod Podge, being careful to keep the paper tight and wrinkle free by gently rubbing out the bubbles with her fingers.
She waited a few hours for the first layer to dry and added a second layer of newspaper.
The final step is painting and she picked this color shift paint that changes tints and is fun to watch in the sun shine.
Now our letter was ready to be placed on a shelf or gifted. If you enjoyed making this letter, visit these other Arabic letter tutorials:
Be sure to stop by A Crafty Arab on Pinterest to see more activities that teach about the Arab world.