Towards a Greener Carnival – Glue Recipes

Since 2019 Route Canal Arts and Simon Tipping has been developing a sustainable ethos in the materials, we use to create carnival costume and large processional sculptures.  Mainly looking at the possibilities of eliminating or reducing the amount of petroleum-based materials used in the carnival sector.

How to make Glue for carnival, lantern making, school and community workshops.

Step away from shop bought glues – lets discover the tradition of easy to make glues for ingredients found in the kitchen with the piece of mind that the glue is safe to use and from sustainable sources.

Sustainable products are those products that provide environmental, social, and economic benefits while protecting public health and environment over their whole life cycle, from the extraction of raw materials until the final disposal.

The key to making these resources work for you is approaching them with creativity and openness and using them as tools to suit your own purposes. They do not require artistic expertise just a sense of fun and enthusiasm.

Part 1 – How to Make Glue

Here are several different ways to make homemade glue. The simplest glue is made from a paste of flour and water. You can also make cornstarch paste or milk glue. All are easy, non-toxic, and great for making paper & cardboard crafts including paper-mâché projects. Milk glue is stronger than a flour-based glue and is a fun glue to make because you can hear the chemical reactions happening while you make it! All of these glues are great for making with kids and require little time to complete.


Recipe 1 – Simple Flour Glue

Recipe 2 – Paper Mache

Recipe 3 – Milk Glue

Recipe 1 – Making a Simple Flour Glue


100g flour

80ml cup water

14g Salt

Gather your ingredients. Measure 100g of flour, 14g Salt and 80ml water in a medium sized bowl. This simple flour glue is great to make if you are making crafts with young children, ideal for paper mache.

  • Mix your flour and water in a bowl with a spoon. Blend the mixture until it as thick as pancake batter. The paste should not be too thick or too drippy.
  • If you need more glue, simply double the recipe.
  • If you need less glue, start with the amount of flour you will use, then add water, a teaspoon at a time, until it reaches the right consistency.
  • Cook the glue paste over medium heat until it boils. Pour your glue paste in a saucepan and stir constantly until the mixture bubbles. Take it off the heat when the paste starts bubbling and wait until the mixture cools before you use it.

Tip; treat mixing and heating the glue like making/cooking a bechamel source

  • Use the glue soon after making it. You can use a brush or your fingers to apply the glue to your crafts. The glue paste can be used to stick paper together for a variety of craft projects and decorations such as making greeting cards and kids projects.

This glue can become mouldy over time. To prevent mould, you should dry your craft project completely over a heater.

  • Store in a refrigerator to reuse later. Keep any unused glue in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. The glue should last a week or two.
  • If the glue gets dry, add a little warm water to reuse it.

Recipe 2 – Making Paper Mache Glue


200g flour

65g sugar

80/100ml water with 1 tsp white vinegar mixed in

  • You can adjust the recipe as needed to make more or less glue. The basic proportions are 3:1 for the flour: sugar mixture. Use one teaspoon of vinegar for every 200g of flour you use. If you want a smoother paste, you can sift the flour before you make your paste.
  • Blend the mix until it is very smooth and lump-free. It will have the consistency of a thick paste. When smooth, whisk in the rest of the water, 80ml to 160ml depending on how runny you want your paste, and mix thoroughly. Blend your ingredients until your glue is smooth and a little runny but not watery. Your paste should not be too thick or too drippy.
  • Cook over medium heat. Pour your mixture in your saucepan and turn on the heat. Stir the mixture constantly until the mixture begins to thicken. Once your mixture starts to boil, you can turn off the heat.

Tip; treat mixing and heating the glue like making/cooking a bechamel source

  •  When the mixture has cooled, use it for any craft projects including paper Mâché. Once you have finished, keep any unused glue in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. This glue will keep for 2 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

Make sure to dry thoroughly any of the crafts you make with this glue. If the project stays damp, it may grow mouldy over time. Mould needs water to grow so as long as you pat your products dry or heat them over an oven, you will keep mould away.

Recipe 3 – Making Milk Glue


Baking soda

120ml cup skim milk

Measuring cup/jug

Rubber bands

2 tablespoons white vinegar

Measuring spoons

Paper towels

Combine 120ml skim milk with 2 tablespoons vinegar. Mix ingredients together well in a small bowl and give the mixture 2 minutes to sit. The protein in the milk will clump together into small white lumps. And the chemical reaction will turn the protein of the milk into lumps or curds. The liquid that remains is called whey.

Make a strainer to strain the curds from the whey. Put a paper towel over the top of a cup with a large mouth. Push down the paper towel in the middle so that it caves in. Then take your rubber band and put it around the top of the cup and paper towel to hold your paper towel strainer in place.  

Strain the curds from the whey. Carefully pour the curds and whey on top of the paper towel. The whey will drain into the cup while the curds will stay on the top of the paper towel. Leave the curds and whey on the paper towel strainer for about 5 minutes to give it time to strain.

Scoop the curds off of the top of the strainer and onto two dry paper towels. Press down on the curds so that all the liquid whey is squeezed out. You want to make sure that you get out all the whey to make the glue.

In another small bowl, add the curds, 2 teaspoons of water, and 1 teaspoon of baking soda. Stir the mixture together well. You will be able to hear the sound of bubbles popping if you listen closely because the reaction of the baking soda with the curds creates carbon dioxide.

If the mixture does not have the consistency of glue, add more water to the mixture by the teaspoon until it is the correct consistency.

Use this milk glue for any craft projects including lantern making. Once you have finished, keep any unused glue in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator. This glue will keep for 2 to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

This project has been supported by Carnival Network South, The Arts Council England and Route Canal Arts.

Please feedback on this article so that we can evolve the use of sustainable materials, costume design and carnival.

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