Papier Mâché The term is French and means ‘chewed paper’. It is a molding material used in art consisting of paper torn into strips and then ground or mashed into a pulp and soaked in a binder. The malleable material is then used to create shapes, which are typically painted and/or varnished once the wet material has dried up and hardened in the desired shape. Papier mâché is very versatile and is commercially in a wide variety of contexts. Arguably it has been with us for long. In ancient Egypt, coffins plus death masks were often made from cartonnage – layers of papyrus or linen covered with plaster. Papier Mârché has also been used as a substitute for plaster works or carvings on gilded picture frames.