Paper Mache Projects for Kids

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I confess – I’ve been a slacker lately when it comes to paper mache sculpture, and I’m starting to feel guilty about letting my blog go for so long without a new post. I have good excuses, of course. I’ve been building a chicken house, reading up on gardening, and entertaining guests. But, excuses aside, I sometimes need to throw myself into something different in order to recharge the creative batteries.

I spent a few days with my grandson last week, so it seems like a good time to concentrate on projects that younger artists would enjoy. Here’s a few great paper mache projects I found for kids:

Paper Mache Bunny Puppet

This is the rabbit at the top of this post. I love the photo of a three-year old helping to put paper strips and paste on the bunny’s head. The puppet is made with a paper mache bunny head and ears, and a fabric “body” where the hands go. It’s a great idea for younger artists. http://bkids.typepad.com/bookhoucraftprojects/2008/07/project-29-pupp.html

Art for Small Hands: Papier Mache – Buildings

This post is wonderful, because it gives complete, detailed instructions for teachers and parents. And the little buildings the kids make in this project are quite lovely. I think I might have to make a few for myself. (Hmmm – a tiny village for the “little people” tucked in among the cabbages? I still have some of that marine varnish left over from the paper mache tortoise.). http://www.artforsmallhands.com/2010/06/papier-mache-buildings.html

Jack Skellington Paper Mache Prop

This post shows how the artist created a sculpture based on the Nightmare Before Christmas. It would be too advanced for younger artists to make themselves, but it sure would be a fun decoration for an older child’s bedroom (assuming the “nightmare” part wouldn’t keep them awake). Very nicely done, and great photos, too. http://monstermade.webstarts.com/props_2.html

Make a Paper Mache Mirror – Acrylic Painting Project – Art and Craft

These mirrors are bright, creative, and fun.

That’s it for today’s post. The sun is shining, and I still haven’t finished that chicken house….

11 thoughts on “Paper Mache Projects for Kids”

  1. Hi Jonni, I love your site. I came here looking for a paste recipe for a homeschool project but I have been hankering to make some paper mache puppets and couldn’t find a tutorial (about a month ago since I looked). Well I must not have looked in the right places because here I am now! Can’t wait to try this. I am generally into crochet, knitting, and sewing but hey…what’s one more craft?!

  2. Hi Jonni, thanks for mentioning my In the Garden Series: Paper Mache Tea Set! Since my boys were able to make their own dishware and get messy the day before, they were willing to participate in the tea party long enough to chow down some cookies and satisfy my niece. I would say it was successful, considering it was a two year old, a seven year old and an eight year old that participated in the event (all who don’t really have very long attention spans anyway). And since they were all willing to do it again later in the day for a chance to have more cookies, it really worked out well!

  3. A weed barrier!! That’s a great idea. I think. Hm. I’ve used cardboard and newspaper, with acceptable success. Wonder what advantage the paper mache would give? Denser?

    So, are you going to put your dogs’ poop in the garden? No! You mean in your worm bin (can you do that?) From everything I’ve read, it’s not safe to put pet poop (or human poop) on food crops (and smelly in your ornamentals!) Unless, that is, you can get your composter up to some enormous, sterilizing temperatures reliably through the whole mass. And even then, not so sure. Carnivore poop is too potentially full of baddies, right? I’m sure you’ve checked this out. You’re smart! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Oops, I think you read my comment too fast. There will be no dog poo in my garden, at least on purpose. I think the baddies in pet poo might actually come from the grain in their food – that’s why cows get the bad E. coli, or so I’ve read. Their normal intestinal microbes can’t deal with the unnatural grain diet, so the bad microbes have a chance to take over. Since dogs are carnivores, and most pet food is based on corn or rice, their internal flora and fauna are probably a bit confused, too. But that does bring up the question of how you could raise a healthy carnivore with a meatless diet. The length of their colons, the microbes in their guts, etc., are all designed for a carnivorous lifestyle – are you sure a vegan diet is safe for your hounds? (How did we get on this subject? I’ll bet other readers are scratching their heads about now…)

      I just found the latest salmonella scare in dog food news – so even what goes in our pets isn’t necessarily safe, let alone what comes out.

      Humanure has been tested under ideal circumstances (hot compost and/or worm bins) and some folks say it’s safe for the garden. I have no idea how to test that theory – is there a lab one can send one’s compost to, to see what’s living in it? With the energy expenditure required to make chemical fertilizers, I can see a day when we might need to go back to reclaiming all the nutrients we take from the land. But, at the moment, I think I’ll stick with worm poo. I’ve got lots.

      And I don’t actually know why that fellow in England uses paper mache for weed barriers. It sounds like a lot of work, to me. But the worms would love it. They really like white flour.

      • My husband’s on-going consulting project with New Vista (a group working to make self-sustaining communities) has included a lot of waste treatment and recycling research. He’d have a good deal to say on this subject, and maybe I can get him to pitch in. (Better get that other blog going!)

        I just looked up (again – I do this occasionally) pet waste composting, and it looks like some people are using worms to do the dirty work. I’ve been able to just dig a very deep hole, fill it over time nearly full with waste, top it with the removed dirt, and dig another nearby. I’ve been told that it takes about 2 years to turn it into good ol’ soil. I haven’t been brave enough to dig in the same spot as an old hole yet! This doesn’t, however, keep “baddies” out of the watershed, which is an issue.

        That’s an interesting idea, about corn being the culprit. *looking skeptical* I’ll have to look into that!

        As for feeding dogs a vegan diet, it appears to be not only do-able, but a pretty good idea (rising cancer in pets, all the recall trouble, unimaginable stuff hiding in that can or bag … ). As long as they’ve got humans to cook and mash up their food for them, it doesn’t matter where the nutrients come from. Cuts out a lot of environmental destruction as well as (of course) a lot of unnecessary slaughter of other animals. Anyway, I’m still researching that, but it looks like it won’t be any harder than when I changed my own diet to vegan.

  4. Hi Jonni!
    Oo! Oo! Does that gardening idea really look workable? I’ll want to hear more about that, for sure! And chickens? Aren’t you the suburban farmer. ๐Ÿ™‚

    I love the rabbit puppet idea. Next time grandkids are here we’ll have to try that. What do you think about modifying it to use your clay recipe? For slightly older kids, you could get into more detail maybe. Or for adults, for that matter!

    I’ve been having a sort of vacation from my artwork as well (or, you could call it procrastinating, if you must!) Thanks for posting something creatively inspiring again.

    • Hi Xan. Since I can easily walk downtown, I’m not sure I can call myself “suburban…” But the town’s too small for the urban label either. So – big question – if I put my garden on a new blog, what would I call it?

      The clay recipe would work great for the rabbit, as long as the youngest helper was old enough to not eat the stuff, since it isn’t edible. I’d also suggest leaving the linseed oil out of the clay recipe if very young kids are using it. The clay still works fine without it. And yes, you could get a lot more sculptural detail with the clay, although the painted eyes are nice, too.

      And yes, I think the garden idea will work. For some reason I wanted someone to tell me what to plant, and where. That seems weird, since I’m so anti-authoritarian usually. But all those charts that permaculture folks seem to be addicted to make my head hurt, and this system just gave me a picture. I like pictures…

      • Hm! Another blog… Maybe we need to know more about your feelings or approach to your new gardening exploit to propose names for it? I, for one, would be an avid reader!

        I know what you mean about having your head spin after devouring a lot of research (I’m researching veganizing my dogs at the moment), and how welcome a clear picture would be! I’m guessing you’ll be improvising on the theme just about immediately, being you.

        I think my 11 year old grandson, while being a hearty eater, can keep paper clay out of his mouth. The younger ones are too little for crafts at all yet. Finnegan enjoyed another paper mache project we tried last year. He sculpted a … well, he called it a volcano, but it looked like a lumpy donut to me. And an eyeball, though that could have passed for a golfball, since he never got around to painting it. Still, both are on what appears to be permanent exhibit in the living room of his home, so I have high hopes for another project.

        • I can’t wait for my own grandson to get old enough to do art projects with. It sounds like you have a fun visit ahead of you.

          Improvising? Me? Ok, I confess – I will be changing things a little, mixing and matching here and there. I might call my garden “The Just in Case Place” — just in case we really are going to have a 10-year long recession like some economists are predicting. Lots of fruit trees, veggies, etc. Hopefully enough to share some with neighbors. Still not sure how my large carnivorous pets fit into the picture. Not so much because I can’t raise their food, or that their poop can’t go into the garden, but because my garden will cover their play space. I guess they’ll just have to put up with it. At least with the chickens I’ll have a few omnivorous pets to balance out the herd.

          I made the mistake of reading “City Farm” by Novella Carpenter, and it was so much fun to read that I had to start digging in the dirt. Not for the vegans among us, since Carpenter is an unrepentant omnivore – and I could almost smell her pigs just reading the book, so I don’t think I’ll follow her examples. But the one thing that can help the most to reduce our carbon footprint is to grow our own food. Do something fun, and get environmental brownie points in the bargain. What could be better? There’s even a guy in England who uses paper mache as a weed barrier – hmmm…


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