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Papier Mache Party Decorations

Updated on April 20, 2012

Why do we make LARGE papier mache decorations for my Son's parties?

When my son had his 1st birthday, we had enough money for a cake and a few presents. Streamers, balloons and signs were not an option. I had flour and my neighbors and I were sitting around discussing what to do for his party, I saw a newspaper and remembered Papier Mache!

They all offered up their old newspapers! Then I thought, what can I make the frame out of? I can't afford chicken wire..... I found stuff around the house. His 1st birthday party was AMAZING! We did every character from Shark Tale!

The big shark was 7 feet (really only two pieces for head and tail positioned as if he were wrapped around a table). We created seaweed and coral as well! Every year since, we have chosen a theme and My son and I work on the characters together for a full month for about 30 minutes a day before the party!

*I call my son Cutie online to protect his privacy- he likes the nickname and I don't want to mislead anyone by calling him some other real name like "John" so we went with an obviously fake name.

So Far We Have Created.....

Last year, my neighbor's husband was returning from a deployment. We mache'd a six foot soldier for him!

We have made tons of papier mache creations together including plenty of hot air balloons, volcanoes, mountains trees and other landscaping to complete Cutie's train set. A Star Gate and some Halloween and Christmas decorations!

Below are Cutie's birthday mache projects

  1. Shark Tale
  2. Shrek
  3. Finding Nemo
  4. Thomas the Tank Engine
  5. Fireman Sam
  6. Monsters vs. Aliens
  7. Star Wars the Clone Wars
  8. Harry Potter

Bob, Galaxar and Giant robot cake!

Bob, Galaxar and Giant robot cake!
Bob, Galaxar and Giant robot cake!

You will need FLOUR, Lots and Lots of Flour!

Bob from monsters vs Aliens!!! All papier mache, total cost for Bob and Galaxar ... $6 for extra flour!

Bob from monsters vs Aliens!!! All papier mache, total cost for Bob and Galaxar ... $6 for extra flour!
Bob from monsters vs Aliens!!! All papier mache, total cost for Bob and Galaxar ... $6 for extra flour!

Materials for your Frame

To build a frame for free you need to get creative. Of course, it being "free" depends upon whether you have items around the home that you can use. If you build a frame out of card (such as the packaging for 12 and 24 packs of soft drinks) you will need to be sure to make your first layers of papier mache thin and let them dry in between layers, the frame will collapse if it becomes soaked. I use a fair amount of Duct Tape in constructing my frames, but you should try to make sure that the cardboard is not completely covered in duct tape- the mache will not stick that well to the smooth surface!

Usually, the only items I need to build the frame are....

1. Cardboard strips

2. A few various boxes

3. Balloons for rounded features

4. Duct Tape

5. Hot glue and Hot glue gun

6. Aluminum foil for very tricky small areas

Framing your character

Decide how big it will be. I usually make them the same height as my child, or a little bigger. To give you a few examples....

For Bob : I stacked a few empty soda boxes at weird angles and secured with tape. Then I used a few strips or cardboard to create a sweeping, flowing shape from top to bottom. Next I blew up a balloon and CAREFULLY taped it on top of the boxes. Finally I partially blew up two more balloons and taped them on either side of the large one.

For Galaxar: I used an empty tube from wrapping paper and inserted it into a box, I reinforced the sides with cardboard strips and a straightened wire coat hanger (secured inside the tube to prevent kids from getting poked). I placed a small glad resealable container with a hole cut in it on top. Then I added more cardboard strips, formed arms and finally a large ballon with two teeny tiny ones on top!

For Oscar: The best part.... I had to eat a pie to get the disposeable pie plate out! I folded the pie plate in half, that formed the body (with some gentle manipulation) and cut cardboard shapes for fin and tail!

Keep it Cheap!

You know that birthdays come every year, so I recommend starting to save newspaper in a box about 4 months before the birthday. I use the junk mail that is printed on newspaper and my neighbors are happy to help out by giving me newspapers they were going to dispose of.

I have been able to do an entire party with just one bag of flour, but sometimes I need another.

Galaxar from Monsters vs Aliens!!! Total cost $0- I used only things from around the house!

Galaxar from Monsters vs Aliens!!! Total cost $0- I used only things from around the house!
Galaxar from Monsters vs Aliens!!! Total cost $0- I used only things from around the house!

Mix your MACHE!

You will need....

1.A large bowl

2. a spoon or fork

3. flour

4. water

5. salt *** If you plan to keep it, salt helps to prevent mold!

OPTIONAL: artificial food flavoring such as mint can be added to improve the "aroma" I sometimes add a little cinnamon

And of course, LOTS of Newspaper!!!! You can also grab the freebees at the grocery store (auto traders etc)!

I usually start with equal amounts of flour and water, but you can add one or the other if it is not the consistency that you like!

The desired thickness really depends upon what you are doing with it at the moment. For large areas I make it a bit runny. For small or detailed areas I add extra flour so that I can sculpt it with my fingers!

Paint and "clothe" your character!

Now that it is completely dry, get ready to paint! Sometimes the newspaper print shows through, so if you can, I suggest a base coat of white or if you have a can of primer that works great!

Again, this will require drying time. You do not want to paint it so much at once that it caves in! For characters that have a bit of a glow to them, I like to add a few drops of "pearlescent easter egg dye" to the paint or brush on a little luster dust!

I sometimes spray them with a cheap can of hairspray to help add strength or keep luster dust/ glitter etc from coming off!

If your character wears clothes, think of anything you have at home that you were considering throwing away. For Galaxar's ensemble I made a shirt out of a receiving blanket and cape and gloves out of a pillowcase. I do not sew.... I cut the fabric to fit (simply holding it up to him, drawing on the fabric on adding a few inches all the way around) then I used Hot Glue to attach it so that it looks like clothes!

I wish I had more pics to share, but the memory card is empty...I will be having my husband take pics of this years projects (step by step) and will post them as they happen!!!!

The Giant Robot Cake from Monsters vs Aliens!!!! He is not Papier mache, but I was proud of him so here is his pic!

The Giant Robot Cake from Monsters vs Aliens!!!! He is not Papier mache, but I was proud of him so here is his pic!
The Giant Robot Cake from Monsters vs Aliens!!!! He is not Papier mache, but I was proud of him so here is his pic!

Mache your Frame!

This is the messy part! shred some newspaper into strips, for large areas I prefer large pieces of paper. They do not need to be uniform sizes. Dip the paper into the flour mix, get it covered and as you bring it out, gently run it between your thumb and forefinger to "squeegee" of the excess. Position your strips in multiple directionss, overlapping slightly for the most strength. Do only one layer at a time! The reason it takes SO long to do large mache projects like these is that they are strongest if you wait a day or two in between layers. When they are BIG, you should NOT start the top until the base has enough dry layers to provide the necessary support! Save the small details for later!

Once you have completed all of your layers, I recommend gently blowing it with a hairdryer, then if there are a lot of rough patches, create another bowl of flour mix- this time in a food processor or blender to remove lumps and gently smooth small amounts of the mix with no additional paper over the rough areas!

After you have the texture you want, allow it to dry for another 24 hours. Pop any balloons, or if you used any plastic bottles etc, you can remove them now.

Beginning a Lego guy

Beginning a Lego guy
Beginning a Lego guy

Frame of the first Lego guy

Frame of the first Lego guy
Frame of the first Lego guy

Mache the frame

Mache the frame
Mache the frame

Have you done papier mache?

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What have you or will you Mache?

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    • Enigmaa8 profile image

      Enigmaa8 5 years ago

      Thanks for so many inspirational ideas :)

    • Amoonlighter2011 profile image

      Amoonlighter2011 5 years ago

      These are AMAZING! Simply AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Delightfully amazing!

    • jolou profile image

      jolou 6 years ago

      What a fun idea for kids!

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      Lensrolled to my: Squidoo people with a good heart - Part II and Helpful Tips for Raising Children lenses. Hope it helps! Sincerely, Rose

    • sousababy profile image

      sousababy 6 years ago

      I haven't done paper mache in ages. I love this lens. I must try this out with my 6 year old. Oh and I just realized that with a few tweaks Galaxar could be made into a Squidoo squid?? Thank you for reminding us all about buying lots and lots of flour. That is often something I would overlook. Love always to you and yours, Rose

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Love your lens again dear, lovely sidther ;) I always call the "Papier mache" as the art of love touching. It's so COOL!! For a long .. long time ago .. I created a red piggy bank papier mache with old magazine and newspapers. Never forgot it, but Just forgot on how to do :) Thanks for sharing this beautiful lens. 5 stars for you and great Cutie, too. Have wonderful times ;)

    • profile image

      ohcaroline 6 years ago

      What an interesting lens and very creative of you. Thank you for sharing this information. You are so smart! Let's see more of your creations!