Papier-mâché creations began in Haiti in response to Carnival participants who dance and parade in exotic masks of animals and fantasy figures. However, the art has expanded beyond masks to objets d’art, household items, and multi-dimensional wall hangings and sculptures.
French for ‘chewed up paper’ papier-mâché consists of pieces of paper stuck together using a wet flour or wallpaper paste. When the paper/paste mix dries, the art becomes solid. Artisans then paint and otherwise decorate their creations. In Haiti, papier-mâché masks and other objects are often made in molds that are dug into the ground. The paper/paste mix is pressed into the mold and allowed to air dry (to prevent warping), becoming solid. Haitian Papier-mâché artisans paint their pieces in the bright colors that reflect their sun-drenched environment.