Alyssa loves celebrating holidays and making fun crafts. She is a wife and mom who drinks a lot of coffee!
The Ultimate Paper-Mache
Halloween is one of my favorite holidays. Creating unique crafts and decorating the house is a tradition for my family. My son and I enjoy listening to music or watching a spooky movie while we work. It's a blast!
While searching for a little inspiration, I came across The Ultimate Paper-Mache, a website that lives up to its name and offers ideas for many different projects. In honor of Halloween, I decided that my son and I would create paper-mache pumpkins, but I wanted to set our project apart and add a little twist. Because my son and I love emojis, we thought it would be cool to create emoji pumpkins. We would get our dose of trendy fun and create a sculpture that we can keep for a long time.
A 3-Day Project
This project is enjoyable! However, it does take a little time to complete. It took us three days to complete our pumpkins. Most of the materials you can find around the house, but I encourage you to be innovative and think outside of the box. If a particular material or ingredient doesn't work for you or if you don't have it, make a substitution. In addition, the steps for the project are broken down by day. Be creative, and remember to have fun!
Day 1, Part 1: Make Your Pumpkin
- Layer 3 plastic grocery bags inside of each other.
- Crumple up ads, newspaper, and old paper, and fill the bag halfway.
- Gather up the ends and twist. Tie a knot to close the bag.
- Wrap a rubber band around the end to create a stem.
- Move parts of the band to create lines in the stem.
Check out the photographs to illustrate these steps below:
Day 1, Part 2: Make and Apply the Paper-Mache
- Cover your workspace with newspaper. You may want to add scrap cardboard on top as an extra layer of protection. This project is messy.
- Rip newspaper into strips and place them in a pile. I used varying widths and lengths of strips.
- Make your paper-mache paste.
- Begin dipping strips into the paste and layer them on your bag pumpkin.
- Cover everything except the bottom.
- Allow the pumpkin to dry completely. This is very important.
How to Make the Paper-Mache Mixture
- Hot tap water
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- Put 2 cups of flour into a mixing bowl.
- Stir in hot tap water, mixing well. You want the paste to be a little runny, not too thick.
(See the video from Ultimate Paper-Mache below for more information.)
Day 2: Add a Second Layer
Once your pumpkins are completely dry, it is time for a second layer. Before beginning, choose which emoji you would like to create. Then gather up the following materials.
- Plaster or Joint Compound
- White glue (I used Elmer's.)
- Food coloring
- An old container (I used an old coffee can.)
- Putty knife
- Take your putty knife and put a few scoops of the joint compound into your container. Squeeze some white glue into the container and mix well. Ultimately, you will want about 2/3 of the joint compound to 1/3 of white glue.
- Add in drops of food coloring to tint your mixture to the desired color. Be sure to mix it thoroughly.
- Use your putty knife to carefully spread some of your tinted plaster mixture onto your pumpkin. Have a jar of warm water handy. Use a paintbrush or sponge brush to spread the mixture over the pumpkin. If any cracks happen as the plaster dries, simply spread a little water on your brush and run it over the area to smooth it out.
I found that the sponge brush worked really well in spreading the plaster mix over the larger areas of the pumpkin. The paintbrush was great for the smaller areas, around the stem and getting the plaster mix around the bottom.
- Take your time and make sure that you cover the bulk of your pumpkin. Be careful around the stem.
- Allow your pumpkin to dry completely. This can take up to two days. I put a dehumidifier near my pumpkins to help speed up the drying process. My pumpkins were dry the next afternoon.
Note: If you don't have any plaster or joint compound on hand, you can repeat the flour paste and newspaper strips step above. The important thing is to have a second layer on your pumpkin to make it more sturdy. I like the tinted plaster mix because it not only added a second layer to the sculpture, but also provided a base color which reduced the amount of paint needed for the emoji pumpkin.
Day 3: It's Time to Paint!
Once your pumpkin is completely dry, you may carefully remove the grocery bags inside of your pumpkin. Be gentle and go slowly so that you don't crack your pumpkin. Once you've removed the insides, it's time to paint! Gather up your paintbrushes, paint, and a jar of water, and have some fun!
I decided to use Tempera paint because that is what I had on hand. Many people recommend using acrylic paint on paper-mache sculptures. Whichever you decide, be creative with your emoji pumpkin, and have fun! (I recommend drawing your design out with a pencil before painting.) Once the paint has dried, you can seal it with an acrylic varnish to ensure that it lasts a long time.
The Completed Halloween Decor
And that's it! You now have an emoji pumpkin. Once it is dry, proudly display your sculpture with your Halloween decor.
If you are interested in creating more paper-mache sculptures or for more information and tutorials, please visit Ultimate Paper-Mache.