Friday, October 23, 2009

paper mache...papyay mahshay squash

Now, I'm no Martha or Amy Kachinsky (hi! Amy! you still read this?!), but I enjoy making things that look like things and I'm not so bummed out if they don't look JUST like things. But if you want to know how to make something that looks like a pumpkin, here's how:

1. Make paper mache goop. In this recipe, I used 5 parts water to 1 part AP flour. Bring 4 parts (in this case, 2/3 cupfuls because that's the measuring cup I grabbed first) water to a boil. In a cup, mix remaining 1 part water with the AP flour and whisk with a fork.

2. When water is at a full rolling boil, add the mixture and whisk well. Bring back to a boil and boil hard for one minute. Remove from heat. Add a generous dose of cloves, vanilla, cinnamon or some other scent if the smell of the paper mache goo is too much for you. My 5 y.o. wouldn't touch the project until I did it, but I had some old ground cloves on the shelf that got put to good use.

3. While the goo is cooling, wad up some newspapers in the general form of what you want to make. Here, its going to be a pumpkin. Really and truly.

4. Pumpkins aren't exactly round, so to approximate their shape, kind of gather up the 4 corners of the paper and roll them on toward the center. Then take a wide strip of paper, roll it up for the stem. Tape it loosely so it will stick while you do the next step.....

whoops....this is going to be a Hubbard squash....

5. Once the goo has cooled to the touch (about 1/2 an hour), dip strips of newspaper in to cover thoroughly. Scrape off the excess by drawing it over the edge of the pot as you pull it out. In this photo you can see that it is still boiling - but don't do what I what I say (famous parenting words). You can also ignore the lumps in the goo....its paper mache, not gravy, and your MIL is not coming to suppah. So ignore.

Helpful hint: Tear up a generous amount of newspaper strips BEFORE you start loading them on your form. They should be about 1-2" wide, with some narrower, and about 4-12" long, again, depending on the size of your project. For the pinata or a form with a broader shape, wider helps the coverage to go faster. For smaller projects like gourds or fruit, smaller, narrower strips will lay better and look better in the end.

6. Then just kind of drape your newspaper strips over the form. Your goo will be thicker than mine in this photo because I didn't get the ratio right for the tutorial and I ended up throwing it out at the end. But if you follow 5:1, it will turn out prefect.

7. Keep on keepin' on layering until you have the shape you want. Its a messy job, to be sure, but when was the last time you did something like this?? And Fall holidays are only the beginning! Check back for our Easter Egg tutorial in the Spring!
Dip newspaper strip, wipe, layer, smooth, dip, wipe, layer, smooth, dip, wipe, layer, smooth....

8. When you're satisfied with the shape, set the gourds aside to dry - at least 24 hours in a dry house. I put mine by the woodstove to dry overnight, and others I put in the oven at 200 degrees to dry for a few hours, turned off the oven, turned it back on, off, on, off....for 2 days and they dried out fine.

9. When dry, paint as desired....

10. Spray with Acrylic Sealer (I used gloss) to give them a shine....

Isn't that shiny?

And use them as a delightful addition to your Fall sofa table display. Really. Your MIL will be impressed.

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