How to make a papier mache UFO
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Papier mache is a great activity to keep kids entertained over a couple of days. From the tactile pleasure of playing with the paste to the creative artistry of decorating the model, there's something for everyone to enjoy. Even better, you usually have all the things you need lying around the house.
UFOs are a brilliant choice of model, as they can take any shape you can imagine.
Preparing papier mache equipment
Mix one part flour to three parts water in a large bowl and stir thoroughly. The paste should be thick and gloopy. It is possible to use watered down PVA glue or wallpaper paste; however, flour paste is completely harmless if consumed, which may be an advantage if working with very young children.
Tear the newspaper into strips.
Prepare your workspace. Papier mache is a very messy activity, so cover any surfaces with a large sheet of plastic - an old table cloth could work well - or plenty of newspaper. Long sleeved aprons are great for protecting clothes, otherwise wear old things you don't mind getting messy.
- Mix one part flour to three parts water in a large bowl and stir thoroughly.
- Papier mache is a very messy activity, so cover any surfaces with a large sheet of plastic - an old table cloth could work well - or plenty of newspaper.
Making the UFO
Blow up a round balloon to the desired size. This will form the body of the UFO, following the typical flying saucer shape.
Paint the strips of newspaper on both sides with the paste, then stick them to the balloon. Cover the balloon two to three times over, leaving only the tail end uncovered. Smooth the newspaper with your hands to work out any air bubbles as you go.
Leave the balloon to dry. It will probably need up to 12 hours, so leaving it overnight is advised. If there is any paste left, it can be stored in the refrigerator overnight. Remember to take it out well in advance of your second craft session or the paste will be very cold and unpleasant to use.
Cut or pierce the tail end of the balloon to deflate it. Using scissors or a craft knife, cut the papier mache sphere in to two even halves. You might want to mark a line with a pencil first.
Draw out a circle on a piece of cardboard that is larger than the diameter of the halves of the sphere. If you want to make your circle perfect, cut a length of string to slightly longer half the diameter you desire and use a drawing pin to attach it to the centre of the cardboard. Tie the other end round your pencil. Place a finger over the drawing pin to hold it securely and place the pencil as far away as possible. Keeping the string taught, draw a circle around the drawing pin. Cut out your circle of cardboard.
Position half of the sphere in the centre of the cardboard. Secure it using masking tape. Regular sellotape will work; however, the flour paste doesn't adhere to it quite as well. If you wish to create a smoother slope between the sphere and the cardboard, roll up some newspaper into long sausages and tape them around the sphere. Repeat for the other side.
- Blow up a round balloon to the desired size.
- If you wish to create a smoother slope between the sphere and the cardboard, roll up some newspaper into long sausages and tape them around the sphere.
- Repeat for the other side.
Cover the cardboard and sphere in newspaper and paste. Again, aim for three layers and smooth the newspaper with your hands to get rid of air bubbles. Leave it to dry overnight.
Cover your UFO in tin foil for a metallic look, or paint it any colour or design you want. Permanent markers can be used to add details like windows or lights, while odds and ends from around the house, such as bottle tops or buttons, can be added as decoration. This is a good opportunity to get creative and use a variety of materials.
- To really get creative with the shape of your UFO, chicken wire can be used as a frame and is easily moulded into shapes. If working with younger children, be aware that it can have sharp ends.
Based in a small town in rural Shrosphire, Loralei Haylock has been writing book reviews, education and writing-based articles since 2006. She has a First Class Honours degree in creative writing from Bath Spa University.