Do you have to leave the paper mache to dry for 24 hours?
Answer from Piñata Boy
No, the drying time depends on the conditions. On a hot, dry Texas summer day, the papier mâché can dry in as little as an hour or two, even less if you put a fan blowing on it. But on a cold and humid day, even 24 hours might not be enough.
Papier mâché dries from the surface downward, so it’s possible for the surface to feel dry while it’s still damp underneath. It’s usually best to allow it to dry out all the way before adding another layer or decorating, but depending on my schedule I have sometimes added a new layer only 30 minutes after the last one, and then allowed more drying time later on. For example, if it’s not fully dry at bedtime, I might throw another layer of papier mâché on anyway and then leave it all night in front of a fan to dry.
The biggest danger in applying new layers before the previous ones are fully dry is that any dampness makes the walls feel weaker, so if the papier mâché isn’t fully dry, you might add more layers than necessary, and then when it finally does fully dry, the piñata is harder to break than you expected.
But I always like to give the papier mâché at least 24 hours to dry before decorating for two reasons:
- You can’t tell how hard the walls of the piñata really are unless the papier mâché is fully dry. Any dampness underneath will make the walls flexible and make them appear weaker and more easily breakable than they really are.
- Sometimes the decorations won’t stick if the papier mâché is damp underneath, even if the surface layer is dry.