Nothing says “summer project” to me more than papier maché. I remember making lots of papier maché projects in the summers when I was a kid. School is out, the sun is shining and you can craft outside and make as much of a mess as you want. Yup, papier mache is fun, messy, cheap, and the PERFECT summer project. It also uses lots of recycled materials. Here’s a tutorial for an awesome papier maché monster puppet that can be made by kid and grown-up crafters alike!
You will need:
Cardboard (like from an old cereal or cracker box)
All-purpose white flour, warm water, a mixing bowl
Air-dry or oven-bake modeling clay
One infant shirt (the one I used is sized 6-9 months). Find one at a thrift store, garage sale, or take one off a baby while nobody is looking.
2 gloves. I used two latex gloves (available in the first-aid section at the drug store).
3 sticks (I used dowel, but sturdy sticks from the backyard or park will work just fine).
Acrylic or latex paint, brushes
Step 1: Make a head. Ball up a piece of newspaper, then wrap additional sheets of paper around the ball until it is the size you want. Use lots of masking tape wrapped around the head to hold. The head doesn’t need to be round. It can also have lots of lumps and bumps (this is a monster, after all). Mine is oblong with a protruding chin.
Step 2: Roll/ twist finger sized sausages out of newspaper. Shove them into the fingers of the gloves. Make a palm-sized wad (a flattened ball) and shove it into the palm of the glove. Tie the ends of the gloves like you would balloons.
Step 3: Mix up some glue. Start with about half a cup of warm water (warm only because you’re putting your hands in it). Add the FLOUR to the WATER small amounts at a time, whisking with a fork (or a whisk) as you go. (Adding water to flour gives a lumpy paste. Lumpy paste is gross, slower to dry, and more likely to go moldy). The final consistency should be that of a good creamy soup. I used a half cup of water and a generous ¼ cup of flour.
Step 4: Rip the newspaper into squares or short strips. Dip your hands into the paste (get messy!) and rub some glue on the squares. Slap the squares onto the head. Use firm hands, stick the squares down well. Cover the whole head-ball and the glove-hands with about 2-3 layers of paper in this way.
Step 5: Make a small, nose-shaped ball. Cut some ears out of cardboard.
Step 6: Crunch-up your cardboard ears to give them a bit of dimension. Dip your hands in the paste and lightly wet a paper towel. Twist the paper towel into a loose sausage. Stick the sausage around the edge of your ear shape to give the ear some dimension. Cover the ears and nose ball in 2-3 layers of paper.
Step 7: Using the clay, make some eyeballs (two, or one, or five – remember, this is a monster). Eyeballs should be partially flattened balls of clay. Make some teeth too. When you’re making teeth, remember that part of the teeth (the root?) will be hidden by the lips. Thus, your teeth should be shaped more like a stick of trident gum than a chicklet. Teeth can be flat, pointy, or both. Make some fingernails or claws if you want. Air-dry or bake the clay.
Step 8: Shove one stick into the head-ball (where the neck would be). Shove the other two sticks into each of the hands (where the wrists would come out). Glue gun and/or masking tape the sticks in place.
Step 9: Draw a big wide smiley mouth on the front of your head. Use a glue gun to glue a row of bottom teeth and top teeth, using your smiley mouth as a guide. Reinforce with tape.
Step 10: Glue on your nose and eyeballs. Glue the ears to the side of the head. Glue fingernails or claws (if you made some) to the fingers. Reinforce with tape where necessary.
Step 11: Make some more paste. It’s time to give your monster two big juicy lips. With paste-dampened hands, twist a paper towel into a loose sausage. Lay the sausage diagonally across another piece of paper towel. Fold the towel around the sausage and dampen with paste-hands. Stick the lip onto the face, letting the teeth show a little. Make a top lip and stick it down in the same manner.
Step 12: With smaller pieces of paper towel make two more lips. Wrap one around the bottom of the eye, wrap the other around the top. Now you have some great monster eyelids. Repeat for the other eye (or eyes, if you’ve got a many-eyed monster).
Step 13: Use squares and strips of paper towel to blend all the parts of the face together. Cover the nose, cover the ears –meh, just cover everything. Make some wrinkles and warts.
Step 14: With small pieces of paper towel, make more lips and wrap them around the fingernails or claws. Now it really looks like the fingernails are growing out of your monster hands! Cover the hands with a layer pf paper towel. Let everything dry.
Step 15: Now it’s time to paint! I use a dry-brush technique to paint the monsters. It’s super-easy and looks really great.
Start with some black paint mixed with an equal amount of white glue. Paint the entire monster with two heavy coats of black glue-paint. (The glue added to the paint makes the monster extra-strong.)
Step 16: Load your brush with a medium colour of paint. Dab most of the paint off on a paper towel or old phone book. Lightly brush the medium colour onto the raised areas of the monster. Leave some black showing. Let dry.
Step 17: Load your brush with a light colour of paint. Dab most of the paint off again. Brush the light colour onto your monster leaving some black and medium colour showing.
Step 18: Slap some white paint on your monster’s eyes and teeth (Don’t worry about getting everything painted perfectly. Some black around the edges will look great). Paint some wonky irises and pupils. Give your monster a manicure, if you desire.
Step 19: Up until now, you’ve just had a head and two hands on a stick. Now it’s time to pull out that infant shirt. Thread the head-stick in the neck-hole and one hand-stick into each arm-hole. Secure with pins, glue-gun, or whatever.
Step 20: Your monster puppet is done! Hold the head stick in one hand and both hand sticks in the other hand (or whatever works). Go ahead and put on a great puppet show!