Balloons make wonderful armatures for papier mache. They are light and inexpensive, and can be popped, making it very easy to remove them when the papier mache has dried. The tricky part of this project is learning to twist a balloon into a horse shape. The twisted balloon shape can be quite a bit simpler than one that is going to be handed out at a party, but it still requires some skill.
Mix 1 cup of flour with 2 cups of water in the large bowl. Stir with a whisk or large spoon until the mixture is smooth. It should be about the texture of thin gravy; if it seems too thick, add a little more water. When it is well stirred, with no lumps, add 1/4 cup of white glue to the mix.
Tear newspaper or other old non-glossy papers into 1-inch strips. Place a handful in the glue mixture to soak.
Blow up the balloon, leaving about one-fourth of it uninflated. Knot the end of it securely. Starting at the knot end, pinch off about 2 inches of inflated balloon and twist, forming the head. Don't worry about making a nose or ears, as some directions for making a balloon horse indicate, because you will be creating those using your papier mache.
Bend the head part down to measure the amount needed for the neck. Make the neck about one-third longer than the head. When you have the length, pinch the balloon together and twist at that spot. Next, measure off two lengths for the legs. Pinch and twist each of them. Pull the last pinched and twisted joint up to the one at the base of the neck, and twist them together. This forms the front legs.
Pinch off a section of balloon to form the back, and twist to close. Pinch off and twist two more sections to form the back legs. Bring up the last section and twist it together with the twisted part at the end of the back. This forms the back legs. Tie off the end of the balloon at the end of the back, and trim away any excess. If you were just making a balloon horse, you might create a tail at this point, but since you will be covering the balloon with papier mache, just make sure the end of the balloon is secure so that it will not leak air.
Pick a strip of paper out of the glue mixture. Pull it gently between two fingers to remove excess mixture. Smooth the strip over a portion of the balloon horse. Repeat until the entire horse has a coat of wet, gluey paper. Let dry. Repeat this step at least three times.
Cut two triangles of stiff paper or tagboard. Bend up the bottom edge of the triangle. Snip small slits in the folded edge. Curve the triangle so that it forms an ear shape, with the folded bottom edge on the bottom part of the ear. Put a thin layer of glue on the underside of the folded part, and stick the ear to the head. Leave a space between the ears for the mane.
Paint the horse. You can use tempera, acrylic or spray paint for this step. If you use tempera paint, apply a clear coat of sealer over the paint when it is dry. This can be a spray fixitive, spray shellac, or a brush-on coat of fixitive. You can even mix white glue and water and brush it on as a sealer coat. If you use a brush-on sealer, be careful not to smear painted details. Let the paint sealer dry.
Cut a length of curtain fringe long enough to reach from just in front of the ears to the base of the horse's neck. Glue the solid edge part to the horse starting from just in front of the ears, then between them and down the back of the horse's neck.
Cut lengths of embroidery floss that are twice long enough to reach from the end of the horse's back to the bottom of its feet. For example: if the horses legs are 3 inches long, cut pieces of floss that are 6 inches long. Lay the strips of embroidery floss together, then fasten them together by tying the bundle in a square knot located in the middle of the lengths. Hold the threads by the square knot, and comb them out using any regular hair comb. Glue the knot to the end of the horse's back at the top of the legs.
Things you need
- Long sculpture balloon
- Large bowl
- Whisk or spoon
- White flour
- White glue
- Embroidery floss
- Curtain fringe