During every session of art clubs I try to tackle at least one sculpture project. For Winter ‘22 I dove into paper mache. Confession — I myself had not done a paper mache project since high school (I made a paper mache panda, it was pretty darn cute if I remember correctly). I knew it was messy and I also knew it was relatively simple. So I was a little intimidated, but also knew that we could do it.
I decided to focus on a simple bowl form, using a balloon as a base. ( I got the project idea from this blog. ). When the kids first walked into the art studio, they were super excited to see a bunch of balloons in bowls. Then we mixed up some paper mache with 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water; they shared with their neighbor and mixed it all up with their hands. Some of the kids loved digging their hands in and getting all gooey, some not so much.
This project is great for using up scraps of paper from old projects or junk mail. Cut the paper into strips, dunk it in the flour + water mixture, and put it on half the balloon. We tried putting on 2-3 layers, but it was kind of hard to keep track.
Some tips I want to remember for next time: when the kids are done, have them clean up their little drips on the floor with a damp rag themselves. With the first art club, I cleaned the floor myself after everyone had gone home (and we had eaten dinner and put Ransom to bed). The drippings had dried, and I had to use a LOT of elbow grease. The next day the kids cleaned up their drops themselves (4-5 year olds) and it was so easy! Also, when walking to the bathroom to wash hands, have kids hold their hands together so there are less drips. Sensing a theme? Paper mache is messy! But that’s why you have an art studio — a safe place to make a mess!
Anywho, the next week we had the joy of popping the balloons and painting our bowls. They had a blast mixing the paints and adding color to their creations.
Another tip I’d like to remember for next time: painting the bowls completely white first makes the other colors much more vibrant. I might insist on that next time.
Either way, these young artists did a fanstastic job and really dove into this messy project.
Paper mache is pretty magical. What first is a gooey mess of flour+water+paper becomes a work of art!
See what’s been happening at our studio! Learn about fun art projects and other ways to engage creatively with your kids. Written by owner and teacher, Ms. Laura.