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I am making a paper mache "house fish" for my kitchen, and having a great time with it too.
I want the little beastie to last, though(well he's not so little, 46" long). I started with a styrofoam form, I used a flour recipe with salt, and am planning on a coat of gesso, some sanding, then paint, then maybe polyurethane to seal it all. Is there anything else I can do to help it last? Is this the right direction?
PS I got all this info from this site and various links...what a great resource!
I think lots of coats of polyurethane varnish would be advisable here. (Several thin coats). This will not only protect it but will allow you to give it a wipe occasionally with a damp cloth.
One of the most important things to remember though before varnishing, is to make sure that the papier mache is absolutely 100% bone dry.
Sounds like you are having a lot of fun making your fish. There is something very satsifying in making an item either much larger or much smaller than usual.