I thought up this paper mache project and started giggling when I envisioned the finished product. It took a lot of trial and error, and *possibly* a few curses, but if you follow my directions, it’s a really fun project to do with your kids.
The key here is patience, which is a really tough one for me, so if I can do it, you can, too. You must let the paper mache dry completely between layers!
At first I tried to make these with newsprint and glue-based paper mache (watered down Elmer’s). This was a disaster. The newsprint didn’t lay well on the mini balloons or pencils, the paper mache was too slippery, and I hadn’t yet devised my ingenius drying rack.
So. After we attached balloons to pencils…..
…..we stuck the pencils, point down, into wax paper – on a cookie rack – on top of a plastic cereal container. Remember to put wax paper under the whole thing to catch drips. This made ALL the difference in the world when paper mache-ing, and made it actually fun instead of frustrating!
How to Make Paper Mache
Put a cup of flour into a bowl. Add small amounts of water until it is thin enough to coat the paper pieces, but thick enough so it isn’t runny- a little thinner than yogurt. You can see how thick I make mine in the following video (delightful background sounds courtesy of Beckett.)
Tear the paper towel pieces fairly small. (I just realized that my below photo includes newsprint instead of the paper towels. Oops!)
After your first layer is completely dry, you can remove the pencils from their drying rack and paper mache down the pencil as far as you desire. While you’re at it, slap another layer over the balloon area. We just let these dry lying down on wax paper this time.
Once these are dry, gesso them to prime them for the paint and cover the ugly yellowy paper mache color.
Paint! (I wish we had made even more of these to play around with different paint designs.)
Materials: (linked materials will take you right to Amazon)
- Water balloons (and balloon pump)
- Masking tape
- Paper towels
- Wax paper
- Acrylic paints
- Use a small plastic balloon blower-upper thing to blow up the water balloons. Please don’t attempt to use your face for this, or your jaws will never forgive you.
- Attach balloons to eraser end of pencils using masking tape.
- Rip up little pieces of paper towels.
- Mix up paper mache and cover the balloons with one layer of it on the paper towel pieces.
- After they are completely dry, paper mache the pencil part and the balloon for another layer.
- After these are completely dry, gesso them,let dry, and paint them. We used a small flat (#4) brush, started at the top of each balloon and spiraled down with the paint colors.
For more inspiration, check out 17 Acrylic Painting Techniques to Try With Kids.
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