The History of Papercrete

According to web pages that I have read, papercrete was developed in the late 1920's by an unspecified man who supposedly patented it but was unable to make money because the process was so easy that anyone could do it, and many did.

In 1976 I (John Hall) was an art student majoring in sculpture. I decided to experiment with papier mache' by adding gypsum plaster to the mix. This worked pretty well, but the set time was about fifteen minutes, so the mix had to be quickly poured into a mold. I cast small test triangles and found that they were strong, light, and flame proof. The drawback was the quick set time, so I next experimented with portland cement instead of the gypsum. I made a molded 3' triangle from paper pulp and cement, and then I built a wooden 4' diameter geodesic frame, covered it with cardboard and then burlap, and then applied my mix. This made a nice doghouse but using a cement mixer to pulp large amounts of paper was not efficient, and I did no further experimentation at that time.

A few years ago Mike McCain from Sun City, NM and Eric Patterson from Silver City, NM, independently developed what they called papercrete or fidobe. Gary Solenberg figures in here somewhere, too. I recently was told that Eric Patterson took a patent for papercrete but was unable to make money because the process was so easy that anyone could do it, and he relinquished the patent. McCain is credited with designing the "3rd world tow behind papercrete mixer" which uses a car or truck rear end to drive a blender type mixer that will mix about a yard of papercrete in a short time. In my opinion this mixer made papercrete practical for the owner builder. Since that time several different syle mixers have been made by various people, with varying results.

Sun City, NM is the hotbed of papercrete experimentation. There are several web pages devoted to papercrete, and more than one mail list, like and To join the Yahoo list you go to and give them your personal information so they can spam you. To join the Starship group just send an email to with the word "subscribe" (without the quotes) as the SUBJECT of the message. No personal information is asked for and you will get no spam from Starship-Enterprises.