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A French-Inspired Garden and Home by Judith Stringham

Handmade Paper Mache Angels

Sunday, January 21, 2024

Angels are year-round decor in my opinion. Not just for Christmas decorations. True, angels are one of the best selling items every year in my annual French Country Christmas Event. Each year I create special one-of-a-kind items to offer customers looking for French Country style. For the most recent Christmas sale, I offered handmade paper mache angels. 

I found the papier-mâché (paper mache) angels through one of my favorite companies in the wholesale Dallas Market Center. There were three styles of angels, but they looked much plainer than these finished angels embellished with gold-colored wire, gold-colored charms, and gold wax. Unfortunately, I don't have a before photo. 

Handmade Papier-Mâché Angels

I always look for items made of natural materials, not artificial or synthetic, to offer customers. And, I look for French style or French-inspired style. The papier-mâché angels are both natural materials and French inspired, checking off both sought-after qualities!  


The English phrase paper mache comes from the French expression papier-mâché which means in French "chewed paper".  A more accurate description is paper pieces mixed with glue or paste. Basically, the same formula used in elementary school art projects all across America. Who hasn't made something using paper mache? 

As soon as I saw the original 'blank' angel forms at the wholesaler, I knew I could transform them into something special, one-of-a-kind angels, each with its own personality. The original angels had subtle, faint touches of gold on their wings and hair. 

Each angel came alive with a heavy coat of gold wax on each one's hair and wings. Then light strokes of gold wax shading on their clothes provided movement to their garments. Little bands of gold wax at necklines and sleeves defined their clothes more. 

Gold colored wire and charm embellishments revealed each one's unique personality. 

Some held gold-colored wire shaped into circular wreaths, but one special angel held a heart-shaped wreath with a fleur de lis. 

Some hold trees, fleur de lis, snowflakes, and wreaths. Each wreath is different. Only one angel held a golden pear. 

A few had gold halos made using multiple loops of fine wire floating above their heads.  

The finished collection of twelve angels could be a choir. 

By the very nature of handmade, no two are exactly alike. Variations in texture, finish, and embellishments make each one different. 

Working the wires into wreaths and halos by hand was a satisfying experience. Thinking of how to make each one special was a creative outlet. When I began working on the first one, I knew I had a vague vision, but was apprehensive. I worried the handmade papier-mâché angels would not look good, but instead would like an elementary school project gone wrong. Worried no one would love them like I did. 

All were loved. All sold.  

Some new owners talked about displaying them year round. My kind of people. 

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