Paper mache, or papier mache, is an inexpensive way to have fun. Made with items around the house, paper mache lets the imagination run wild. Even better, it is easy to clean up and perfect for all ages.
- Skill level:
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Things you need
- Paper towels
- 4 toilet paper hulls
- Round canister
- Thin rectangular box
- Big bowl
- Plastic straw
Clean off a place to work. Cover the table with newspaper, garbage bags or an old tablecloth to prevent stains. Have paper towels readily accessible to keep hands clean. Place a sheet or towel beneath the table to catch any newspaper shreds or paste drips. Select an area that can be used for three to four days; paper mache requires time to dry between layers.
Find four toilet paper hulls and a rounded item, such as an oatmeal canister, coffee can or a baby food tin. Tape the four toilet paper hulls with masking tape to the bottom of the canister; two should be taped to the front and two to the back. Rectangular objects like detergent or shoe boxes will suffice if nothing rounded is on hand.
Use a thin, slim box such a macaroni, instant rice or quick meals box for the neck. Open and remove the lid of the box. Cut an arc, or semicircle, from the left to right corner on one side of the box to fit the head into. Put the box at the mouth of the canister and securely tape it on.
Blow up a balloon. Crumple up one to two sheets of newspaper and cover the balloon. Set it inside the arc, and look at its size. Refit the balloon if it appears disproportionate to the body.
Make paste by mixing two parts of flour with three parts of water. Grab a bowl big enough to dip strands into, and stir flour and water together. Check the thickness of the paste. If it is too thick, add water, too dry add flour. Be careful; it is better for paste to be runny than thick. Density promotes stickiness and clumping, which makes paste difficult to spread.
Tear long strips of newspaper 1 to 2 inches wide. Vary the length of strips to add texture to the body. Dip one strip into the paste. Run it through two fingers to remove excess paste, and put it at the head of the unicorn. Repeat until the unicorn is fully covered.
Let mache dry; this could take three to four hours or an entire day depending on the humidity of the environment and the materials used. Put a fan near the unicorn to speed drying. Apply another layer of paper mache to the unicorn when it has fully dried. Face strips in the opposite direction when applying a second layer to add a thickness to the unicorn.
Use a plastic straw to make the horn of the unicorn when applying the second layer of paper mache. Cut the straw to the desired length. Cover the straw with paper mache. Mold the horn to the head of the unicorn by massaging the paper mache onto the unicorn's head. Tilt the horn to the desired angle. Mush paper mache around the horn to support the straw.
Tips and warnings
- Tape the balloon securely to neck to avoid flimsiness. Measure before cutting toilet paper rolls to ensure the legs will be same length.
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