Papier Mache Critters

By: Missy Sorg

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Who doesn't love some good ol' papier mache?  More and more often I've seen the cutest little guys popping up - from dinosaurs to zoo animals.  I think the appeal for me is twofold: 1) I like the simplicity.  They're not obnoxiously painted; and 2) they're super easy to make.  

I think that if I had kids, we'd be mass-producing these things like you wouldn't believe.  Because, kids love this sort of project.  And, did I mention how well they go with just about any type of home decor?  They'd be Christmas presents, teacher presents, friend presents!

So, let's get down to how to make them!

Supplies:

- Newspaper

- Papier mache mix*

- Masking Tape

Instructions:

- You're going to want some newspaper pages for crumpling and some 1" strips for layering.

- Crumple the pages into paper balls.  (Go ahead and make a few to start with.  You'll need them for the body anyway.

- Start constructing paper balls into the shape of what you want to make.  For a triceratops, for instance, start with the body and work your way out.  Use tape to hold them together. The key is to simply use the tape to hold them together.  You don't want to make a tape critter.  You want a papier mache critter.

- Once you get the basic layout for your critter, it's time to start using the 1" strips and papier mache mix.  Dip a strip of newspaper into the papier mache mix, making sure it's completely covered and goopy.  Hold the paper strip up and use your fingers to "squeegee" the excess papier mache mix off.  You want the paper to be wet, but not goopy.  

- Apply the strip to the basic form for your critter, wrapping it around the paper balls to make the shape of your critter.  If you have excess paper, you can either wrap it around the body or carefully tear it and use it as your next wrapping point.

- Repeat the process until your critter is fully covered.  If you're doing legs, wrap each leg separately.  If you're doing something like the triceratops that has horns and the ridge along the back of its head, be sure to form these things out.  If it isn't holding shape, wait until the base layer of your critter dries before adding more.

- Once you have your critter covered in papier mache, let it sit and dry for 24 hours.  NOTE: If it is still damp after 24 hours, let it sit longer.  You want it to be completely dry.

- If your papier mache is thin, and you're afraid of it breaking or cracking, you can also add an additional layer of papier mache to it.  

 

As indicated, I'm a fan of the "natural" look for the papier mache.  And, when I use natural in quotes I mean that getting that nice, pretty, matted finish is definitely different than what your papier mache is going to look like without painting it.  You can do a quick coat of paint to match room decor, make it gold, or you can actually paint it to have details - like a face and such.  It's entirely your call.

 

Need a papier mache mix recipe?  I'm pretty sure you've got the basics already at home - which means you won't even have to run out to the grocery store to grab anything. 

Papier Mache Mix

Supplies:

- Flour

- Water

Instructions:

- Mix one part flour and one part water (i.e. 1/4 c flour and 1/4 c water) until it forms a thick goop.  Think Elmer's glue consistency.  If it's too thick, add a bit more water.  If it's too thin, add a bit more flour.  Just make sure you mix it well so there aren't any lumps.  

HINT: Warm water helps to keep it non-lumpy.  It's one of my tricks for gravy.  That, and being sure to add enough water at the outset.