CRAFTS AND DIY

Colourful Papier-Mâché Fruits & Vegetables

I haven’t made papier-mâché for years, and almost forgot how much fun it is! You start with such simple and basic materials and end up with an impressive sculpture. Papier-mâché is a great excuse to put on an art smock, and have a bit of messy fun with your children. There are severals steps and a good deal of drying time, so patience is essential. But all of the steps are simple, all ages can be involved, and most of the steps (mixing paste, ripping newspaper, and dipping of the strips) only take a few minutes.

Sometimes it is refreshing to do a non-seasonal craft project. Although I was very tempted to  create all matching seasonal produce, I withheld my art direction, and let my daughter choose her favourite fruits and vegetables instead. Pumpkin, watermelon, pear, sugar snap pea, and corn on the cob! She decided the produce to create based on the balloon shapes we had of course (for instance a strawberry wasn’t going to be easy to replicate).

I would love these fruit and veggies on display in a big wooden bowl, on a bookshelf with cookbooks, or in a cornucopia for a Thanksgiving decoration. Perhaps more Autumal fruit than a watermelon though. : )

Materials:

  • Flour
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Arrowroot Powder (optional)
  • Electric hand mixer or hand held whisk
  • Deep bowl
  • Shredded newspaper or recycled paper
  • Balloons — assorted shapes / sizes
  • Ribbon or kitchen string (we used scraps)
  • White paper or white paint (painter’s gesso –used for priming canvases — works very well for this)
  • Tissue Paper — assorted colours
  • Miscellaneous craft materials : Glue, Paintbrush, Markers, Pipe Cleaners, etc

Steps:

  1. Decide which fruits, veggies, or other sculptures you are going to do.
  2. Blow up the balloons, and add ribbon or string to the ends so they can hang up while drying later. The bigger the balloon the longer it will take but we had fun doing oversized sculptures.
  3. Tear up your recycled newspaper in long strips.
  4. To make the paste, use a deep bowl and mix one part flour with two parts of water to create a yoghurt like paste. Either mix it with a whisk or use an electric hand mixer to remove all lumps. Add in a few tablespoons of salt (this prevents mould) and if possible some Arrowroot Flour, since it makes the dried papier-mâché stronger. (Add water if it is too thick.)
  5. Prep your work surface for easy clean up later.
  6. Dip the newspaper into the paste, and then squeeze the strip thru your fingers, removing any excess, but also allowing the paper strips to be saturated. Layer the pieces on, no more than 5 layers thick. Be sure to overlap the pieces so it helps to strengthen the shape before letting it dry.
  7. Hang up items and let them dry overnight at least.
  8. Prep your shapes — we cut the watermelon rind off of the balloon, and cleaned up the edges. We filled our watermelon with recycled bubble wrap, so it was lightweight but not hollow. We also deflated the balloon inside of the pumpkin, and intentionally squashed the shape to make it a bit more quirky, and realistic. So think about these tweaks before the painting step.
  9. Once completely dry, using a wide paintbrush you can either paint the shapes with white acrylic or gesso.
  10. Let this dry, (overnight) and then you can have fun bringing colour, texture, or pattern to your art. We loved bringing our fruits and vegetables to life! We used torn crepe and tissue paper with regular school glue, and had lots of fun bringing our creations to life.
  11. Pipe cleaners and fabric pieces worked best for stems. We enjoyed using soft felt and foam paper for watermelons.
  12. And don’t forget a few details with marker or paint at the end work brilliantly for those final touches!

It is a bit messy, but embrace it, and you will love it. I promise!

We arranged our cute oversized fruit into a repurposed fruit crate for her school project. Then once we got it home we used the pumpkin as an Autumnal display, and the pear next to some cookbooks in our kitchen.

Papier-mâché is so versatile… I would love to also try puppets, masks (great for Halloween!), a pinata (for Birthdays!), a nest (for Easter!)… and if you want to make some music, try these cool maracas. The possibilities truly are endless. But I’d love to hear what creative projects you have made with your papier-mâché.

Lara

x

ps See our other fun projects with crepe paper!


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