How to Make a Paper Mache Leaning Tower of Pisa

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The Leaning Tower of Pisa is a world-famous piece of architecture dating back to 1173 when its construction began under the direction of architect Bonanno Pisano. The tower is actually the bell tower to Pisa's cathedral and weighs almost 15,000 metric tons. The tower was built in stages, and after only the third of its eight stories was completed, the ground, an unstable sand-clay mixture, began to sink under the tower's weight, thus causing the famous lean we know today.

Skill level:
Moderate

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Things you need

  • Paper maché
  • Bowl
  • Newspaper
  • Paper towels
  • Plastic 2-liter bottle
  • 227gr styrofoam cup or empty toilet paper roll
  • Scissors
  • Picture of Pisa's tower
  • Paint

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Instructions

  1. 1

    Tear the newspaper into strips approximately ½- to ¾-inch wide. Set aside the pile and extra newspapers in case you need more strips. In a wide bowl, mix the paper maché as a teaspoon of salt, one cup of flour and two cups of water until the mixture is a thin paste. You can double the recipe if you need more paper mache paste to complete the project.

  2. 2

    Cover your working surface with more newspaper or paper towels to make clean up easy. Look at the picture of Pisa's tower to remind you of your model shape. Cut the top off the empty pop bottle just below the spout. Cut the bottom at an angle to create the lean effect you want.

  3. 3

    Grab a strip of newspaper and dip it completely in the paper maché paste. Slide the soaked strip between your fingers to remove extra paste. Attach it to the bottle by laying the wet strip over the bottle. Any direction is fine. Repeat the process until the whole bottle is covered with one or two layers of strips. Set the bottle as upright as possible to begin drying.

  4. 4

    Work the same process for the inside and outside of the styrofoam cup or outside of the toilet paper roll. Your choice of these will make the top bell tower level of the tower, depending on your shape preference. Stand it up to dry and return to the bottle.

  5. 5

    Touch the drying bottle to see if it is tacky. When the strips are somewhat dry and sticky, continue by adding another layer to the paper maché. This can take up to 12 hours. Repeat this process until the structure is as thick or shaped as you want it. To create dimensions, roll several strips of newpaper together and attach them as a "rope" covered in paper maché horizontally around the tower to delineate the levels of the tower.

  6. 6

    Attach the top of the tower -- the styrofoam cup or toilet paper roll -- by adding a few layers of paper maché over the cup attaching it to the bottle. Do this before it's too thick to keep the pieces even.

  7. 7

    Let the final paper maché dry 24 to 48 hours before painting, decorating or adding more details to complete your Leaning Tower of Pisa.

Tips and warnings

  • Remember to paper around the bottom of the bottle to cover the openings.
  • Use an egg carton or upright paper towel holder as a drying rack.
  • The tower measures 55.863 meters high with a lean of approximately 5.2 meters from the seventh level below the belfry.
  • Adding more than three wet layers at once can cause your tower to mould.

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