What is Stiffy:

Stiffy is a fluid craft medium that will allow you to work sculpturally with paper or fabric.  Stiffy is non-toxic and water-based and is easily applied with a coarse-bristled paint brush, drying to a clear, non-yellowing satin finish.  Stiffy works by soaking deep into the fibers of your paper or fabric. As it dries, Stiffy becomes very hard and strong, holding whatever shape you've left it in.  Stiffy dries/cures in 24 hours at room temperature.

What makes Stiffy unique?

Stiffy has much in common with both a traditional papier mache mixture (made with flour and water) and acrylic medium/school glue.  The differences lie in the feel and the intergrity of the finished project.  

Stiffy vs. Papier Mache

Papier Mache is very brittle and inflexible when dried. It has a tenedency to crack and break instead of bending (which is why papier mache is ideal for making a pinata - it breaks and lets the candy fall out quite easily).  Because of the addition of flour to the papier mache mix, it tends to dry very matte and quite chalky looking which can dull the appearance of your paper or fabric (if coloured).

Stiffy vs. Acrylic Medium

Acrylic medium or school glue can be used in the exact same way as papier mache but results in a far more flexible, almost plastic-feeling and unbreakable finished product.  If you were to make a pinata using acrylic medium/glue it's so strong and flexible it would require extreme force to bust it open to get the candy out (obviously not ideal).  For some projects flexibility may be good, but for getting fabric or paper to "stand-up" on it it's own, flexibility is the enemy.  Compared to Stiffy, acrylic medium is dense and heavy, even when dried.  A hollow paper structure (like a paper covered balloon) made using acrylic medium will not hold it's own weight for long because It's weight combined with it's flexibility will result in a collapse.  Acrylic is also very temperature sensitive, so in a very warm environment a paper structure made using acrylic medium will sag and/or fall flat entirely.

Stiffy is very strong, lightweight, not too brittle, not too flexible, and won't dull the colours of your paper or fabric.

Making a Paper Bowl

For ages 3+
This project is easy to accomplish regardless of age and skill level.
(You can also use fabric scraps instead of paper scraps for this bowl project)

Materials Needed:

      Step 1 - Bowl Prep
      • wrap mixing bowl in plastic wrap
      • secure plastic wrap in place with painter's tape

      Step 2 - Start Collaging

      • squirt a generous amount of Stiffy onto palette or lid from plastic container (something like a yogurt or sour cream container)
      • use your paintbrush to apply Stiffy to an area of the plastic covered bowl
      • quickly adhere a scrap of paper to the area moistened with Stiffy
      • apply more Stiffy over top of the scrap of paper
      • continue layering Stiffy and paper scraps

      Step 3 - Smooth Down

      • for a stronger, more functional bowl, apply at least two layers of paper over the whole surface of the bowl
      • use the stiff bristles of your brush to smooth out any bubbles or ripples in the paper as you go
      • if any areas of paper are lifting, apply more Stiffy and smooth down with the brush as needed

      Step 4 - Dry It

        • leave in a warm spot to dry for 24 hours ... and try not to touch it!

          Step 5 - Remove the Mold

          • once dry, gently peel back the plastic wrap from the edges and ease the paper bowl and plastic lining off of the mixing bowl
          • remove the plastic gently
          • in this state the bowl is could be considered finished.  It wiil have a rough/rustic top edge.  To create a smooth top edge continue to the next step...

          Step 6 (optional) - Trim Edges

          • place the dried paper bowl inside the mixing bowl you used as a mold
          • run a pencil around the edge
          • remove paper bowl from inside the mixing bowl and trim along pencil line using scissors


            February 16, 2017 — Karen Bullaro