How to build a mountain out of paper mache

Written by chérie de sues
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How to build a mountain out of paper mache
An uneven surface makes the most realistic paper mache mountain. (Getty Creative)

A towering snow-capped mountain with green moss from a craft store to simulate trees looks majestic. Add a sprinkle of white paint over the top for snow just for fun. With adult help, kids can make a paper mache mountain easily with inexpensive ingredients and little skill. This is a perfect family-friendly craft project that can keep little hands busy once a chicken wire frame is created by an adult.

Things you need

  • 2 newspapers
  • 1 sheet of plastic
  • 1 plastic or glass bowl
  • 1 roll of chicken wire
  • 1 pair wire cutters
  • 1 container of paper mache glue
  • 1 gallon medium brown semigloss latex paint
  • 1 paintbrush
  • 1 package green moss
  • 1 roll masking tape
  • 1 old towel
  • 1 pair of fabric gloves
  • 1 container paper glue

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  1. 1

    Make a work area on a flat surface. Place an old towel over a counter or table, then cover it with a plastic sheet. Use masking tape to hold the corners down. Put on fabric gloves and use a wire cutter to cut three 45 by 45 cm (18 by 18 inch) squares from the chicken wire.

  2. 2

    Curl one square to create a mould of a cone-shaped top. Use masking tape to secure the shape in place and allow the mould to lie on its side. Repeat the process with another square, overlapping the first mould. Shift the wire around so that the side of the mountain is made and tape it into place. Repeat with the last square and tape the entire mountain surface to hold its shape. The mould should look like a cone-shaped paper cup. Flatten the wire on the bottom to create a flat base.

  3. 3

    Work the soft, pliable chicken wire with gloves on, until the mountain sits up straight. Make indentations or press a long gutter the length of the mountain to create more realism for the finished project. Try to form the mountain mould into an imperfect cone shape that has many bumps and indentations like a real mountain.

  4. 4

    Shred the newspaper into strips one to two inches wide, without using scissors. Place the strips in the corner of the work space. Open the paper mache paste and pour two cups of paste into the bowl. Dip one strip of newspaper into the bowl and wipe off excess starch with fingers. Place the strip on the mountain and all the paper to fall into the indentations and crevices. Repeat this until a layer of paper mache covers the entire mountain. Lay the strips in different directions; up, down, and sideways as the newspaper is applied to make the piece more stable as it dries. Allow the first layer to dry for twenty four hours. Repeat the application of newspaper a total of three times, allowing twenty four hours of drying time between each application.

  5. 5

    Paint the entire mountain in brown semigloss latex paint. Allow the paint to dry for one hour. Add white or black paint to the brown to make shadows or light spots where the sun may shine. Allow the paint to try for one hour. Paint the top of the mountain white to represent snow. Allow the paint to dry for an entire day, then glue green moss on different places on the mountain to represent trees.

Tips and warnings

  • The paper mache may feel dry on the outside and still be damp on the interior layers. Always allow 24 hours of drying time.
  • Add cinnamon to the paper mache paste to cut down on the starchy odour.

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