Non-Baking related! An Adventure in Paper Mache

Hey there!

While I realize that I am clearly Miss-Adventures/Misadventures in BAKING, It would be the biggest lie and a huge disservice to who I am if I didn’t admit that who I am LOVES all things DIY and sharing what I create on one of my DIY kicks. So once in a while I’ll be sharing my DIY and non-foodie related ventures with you guys.

My most recent project was paper mache! As a kid when ever science project time came around we never even considered making volcanoes. For my mom, science project time usually meant taking the simplest project she could help us do or the one with the least required materials. Once she even did a project with my brother to test the strength of advertised paper towels. Materials: 3-4 different paper towel brands, water, and pennies. Simple right? I remember my brother and mom counting pennies as they added them to wet paper towels that one of them was holding.

To this day, my brother refuses to use all other paper towels. If its not Bounty he won’t touch it.***

But while browsing Pinterest for decoration ideas for our church’s anniversary service I came across this perfect cardboard B.

Post image for DIY Paper Mache Letter:<BR>Better than any you could buy at the store

 

I looked, I clicked, and it wasn’t long before I determined this was something I could do, and I would do.

Despite never using paper-mache the recipe to make and the instructions were easy enough even for the beginner crafter.

Here’s my how-to, as usual not perfect and nowhere near what already established craft sites are able to do (but I hope you enjoy nonetheless):

Materials:

  • Flour
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Tape
  • Cardboard
  • Newspaper
  • Scissors

Alright, seems simple enough right? It is.

First you’re going to pick your letter and font. If you want something fancier than free hand go ahead and print out your letter/number on a full page, cut it out, and trace it on to your cardboard.

I used cereal boxes so the size of my numbers came out predetermined but I’m sure if you wanted to make HUGE letters/numbers you could use those big pieces of cardboard paper that are used for like garage sale signs or even those gift boxes you use for clothes. While I did research I found that its recommended to use thinner less porous cardboard, so whatever you decide to use just keep that in mind.

Once you’ve got your letter/number drawn out, you want to cut it out and then do the same for the other side. It best to do the mirror image, at least that’s what everyone recommends, but I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t figure out how to do that. I’m going to chalk that up to the fact that I started working on this at around 11:30 and didn’t finish till about 2 in the morning so… and that’s all that I’m going to say about that.

Once both sides are cut out, cut strips of cardboard to the width you want for your number/letter and use tape to start building your number or letter.

photo 3

As you can see I started off using electrical tape, Don’t ask, but as you can’t see from the photo I later switched to scotch tape. It’s just to form the number/letter.

Once that’s done,  you can go ahead and make the paper-mache mix. Its made up of  one cup water, one cup flour and 1/2 tbs of salt.  You mix this together till it has the consistency of pancake mix. Not too thin, not too thick. Then, once you’ve got that you cut your newspaper into strips. I found that it works better when torn by hand, for some reason it just sticks and forms to your shape easier.

So next you just dip in the newspaper and when you pull it out use your fingers to sort of squeegee the excess off. Then you cover your letter or number with it.

You have to let it dry before putting on multiple layers. If you’re in a real rush a hair dryer works pretty well. Just don’t hold it too close and always be careful. If not place your project in a sunny well ventilated area and go have a cup of coffee, or tea, maybe read a book.

I don’t have a back yard, or an area where my mischievous cat Memphis Joe would not do everything in his power to reach the new object his Mommy created, so I opened my windows and placed the numbers in the space and  closed them again. It was a beautiful and breezy day so the sun and breeze did the drying for me and my cat could only gaze at them through the glass.

After you put your desired layers of paper-mache and its dried up you’ll notice that its pretty solid. That’s what I love the most about this. Sometimes when you make something by hand, at least when I do, I worry about how much it will hold up to everyday use or movement. Most of the time I worry when its DIY or re-purposed clothing cause who wants a big gaping hole in your shirt or skirt when you’re out in public. But the paper-mache holds together like magic.

paper mache  number2

When everything is dry you’ll notice that there may be bumps and other “imperfections” that you don’t want. Here is where you break out the sandpaper. I don’t know a thing about the different textures of sandpaper so I went onto the Home Depot website and did a little research before heading into the store to get what I needed.

spray paint and sandpaper

 

While at the store I also picked up some spray paint to paint the numbers with. I didn’t have time to do a fancy paint job so I wanted something that I could do multiple coats of in the day and a half I had left.

After sanding it down, again I’m not an expert so I’m sure it could’ve used some more sanding or something but that’s for the next time. I HIGHLY recommend painting it outdoors if you’re using spray paint. The can says indoor and outdoor but the paint smell is overwhelming and not for the faint of heart. I don’t have a backyard and I figured my dad might freak if I did them in the widow and got yellow everywhere so I made a makeshift painting station and boy was I feeling nauseous after I was done.

The best thing about the spray paint is that its relatively dry after 20 min so you can do coats and handle it a little easier, next time though I think I’ll buy craft paint or something and do a pretty design.

photo 3 (1)

photo 2 (1)

 

And once they’ve dried and you’ve done all the coats necessary you’ve got some pretty sweet letters as decorations.

I did these for my church’s 22nd anniversary since this year the youth society did the decorations for the dinner/lunch. And haha but when we’re actually giving the service our pastor, he’s also my god-father goes “well you see I told everyone it was 22 years but hmm I was just sitting here doing the math and its actually 21…so there’s that.” The nyumber 22 was already one all the invitations, programs, decorations, cake and my numbers so they stayed right there.

Here’s what they looked like act the church.

photo 5 (1)

photo 4 (1)

This was a pretty fun project I have to admit. I am definitely planning on doing it again, maybe with my initials or the initials of my best friends adorable niece.

Are you going to try this out yourself? What are you making? Have you done this or something similar already and have some tips or tricks for the next time I attempt it? If you have any DIY’s or crafts that you think I would love go ahead and send me a link or comment below! I would love to hear from you!

Have fun!

– Miss Adventure

*** Disclaimer ***

I don’t promote Bounty or anything. I don’t really care what paper towels we use at home, as long as they clean up whatever I just spilled and I don’t die later when I forget the spot I spilled something at and step on it.  I don’t know internet rules to promotion or fairness or whatever you want to call it, and someone who does will probably read this and think “She doesn’t even NEED a disclaimer”, but better safe than sorry I always say buddies!

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