Do a great paper-mache project as a family, with ingredients and supplies that may already be in the garage or around the house. Kids love anything from the sea and will get excited about setting a masterpiece on their shelves or hanging one from the ceiling of their room. With just a few days of drying time, this fun shark project can be enjoyed by even little hands. Shred up strips of newspaper, add some starchy glue, make a paper-mache mould from chicken wire, then apply paint. There's no wrong way to place the strips of paper, so have a great time.
Set up a flat work area with plastic sheeting over an old towel. Use some of the masking tape to keep the plastic in place. Rip newspaper into strips of 1- to 2-inch wide sections, approximately 6-8 inches long. Stack them to the side for later use.
Put on the fabric gloves. Use the wire cutter and cut a piece of chicken wire 18 inches by 18 inches. Tape the chicken wire to hold the ends together. Form the tube with your fingers so that one end is larger in diameter than the other to represent the shark's neck to tail. Cut another piece, 10 inches by 18 inches, and tape the chicken wire to hold the ends together to form a 12-inch long tube. Form the head of the shark by compressing the chicken wire to a small diameter for the snout and leave the other end to attach to the body mould.
Attach the two finished moulds together with masking tape. Cut eight sheets of chicken wire, 6 inches by 8 inches, and fold over each to make 8-inch long tubes. Attach these tubes as the tail and fins, then form the wire by hand. Use tape to attach each fin and the tail. Look over the final mould and add any details necessary.
Pour 2 cups of paper-mache starch into a large bowl. Dip a newspaper strip into the paste until soaked, then squeeze off excess with fingers. Place the wet newspaper over the shark frame. Lay the strips in all directions and overlap them one on top of another. Allow the newspaper to dry overnight in a warm, dry, well-ventilated area. Repeat with a total of three layers over three days and allow 24 hours of drying time for each layer.
Two isolated brushes for painting. image by Saskia Massink from Fotolia.com
Use the paintbrush and black latex paint and cover the shark completely. Allow the paint to dry overnight and add the craft eyes with glue.
- An inexpensive glue for paper mache is a jug of liquid starch. For kids, mix in cinnamon to cut down the starchy smell. Use a clear polyurethane coating with a brush to keep the paper mache sealed. To hang the shark from the ceiling, attach a piece of wire to the chicken wire to act as a loop before adding the paper mache.
- Chicken wire may scratch surfaces and fingers, so use the fabric gloves.