How to Make Theater Props of a Beanstalk With Paper Mache

Objects associated with classic fairy tales are some of the most common theatre props in both professional and community theatre. One such item is Jack's beanstalk, so famous it's a part of the story's title. The beanstalk for this story should be large, but it's handy if it can also be cheap, lightweight, and easy to make. Create your beanstalk from paper mache in order to fulfil all these requirements.

Hang the rope up in your work area so that it's suspended vertically; if the rope is too long for you to be able to suspend all of it at once, work on and finish just one portion at a time and create the entire beanstalk length in segments.

Cut one 20-inch length of wire for every two leaves you want to add to the beanstalk. Most likely, you'll want a length of wire for every five inches of rope.

Wrap each length of wire once around the rope. Leave the wire ends poking out on the sides of the rope; these will become leaf stems. Space them roughly four inches apart from each other, but not exactly four inches; give and take a little with the length to make the spacing uneven, as it would be in nature.

Draft a leaf shape on tag board or print a basic leaf shape from clip art on card stalk. Make a leaf between two and four inches in length, depending on what you want for your stalk. Cut out the shape.

Use the card stock or tagboard leaf as a pattern to trace and cut out leaves from construction paper. Make two for each length of wire.

Glue the leaves to the ends of the wire wrapped around the rope using tacky craft glue. Let dry.

Tear newspaper into strips of varying sizes. Make the largest about 1 inch by 4 inches and the smallest about a half-inch square (though this is not exact and you can tear the pieces to size and shape as you go). Use about eight full sheets of newsprint for every two feet of rope length.

Dip the strips of newspaper in wheat paste and wrap them around the rope. Wrap tiny pieces of soaked paper around the base of the wire. Spread wheat paste on both sides of each leaf. Do one coat of paper wrapping and let dry for an hour. Repeat the process with subsequent coats; after the third coat has dried, start wrapping the leaves with tiny pieces of newsprint as well. Do at least five coats total.

Paint the finished beanstalk with green spray paint. Keep the paint on hand; the paper mache is stiff, so it's likely you'll get some cracks in the stalk when you move it, but the rope will hold the stalk together, and the cracks will look fine with a new coat of paint.

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