How to Make a Paper Mache Turtle

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Old newspapers can be turned into paper mache creations.
Old newspapers can be turned into paper mache creations. (Image: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images)

Paper mache is a common craft children work on at home, in daycare and at school. It is used so frequently because it is a hands-on craft that allows children to be very creative. Paper mache is used to create many varieties of animals, people, buildings and natural structures such as volcanoes. Teachers and parents making paper-mache crafts with their children should be aware that paper mache is not a quick craft because it needs time to thoroughly dry.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • Large round balloon
  • Petroleum jelly
  • Bowls
  • Masking tape
  • Tarp or drop cloth
  • Glue
  • Water
  • Pin
  • Scissors
  • Pan
  • Mixer
  • Strainer
  • Sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrush

Tear several sheets newspaper into strips measuring approximately 1 inch by 3 inches.

Blow up the balloon to the size you want the turtle shell to be.

Smear a bowl with petroleum jelly, and then smear jelly on the balloon. Set the balloon in the bowl with the knot side down and tape it to the bottom of the bowl with masking tape.

Lay down a tarp or drop cloth in the area in which you will work, to make any mess easier to clean up.

Mix 1/4 cup of glue with 1/2 cup of water in a bowl. Add newspaper strips to the glue mix, allowing them to soak for a couple of minutes.

Remove strips from the glue mixture one at a time, running your fingers along them to remove excess glue. Attach the strips to the top half of the balloon. Repeat the soaking and adhering steps until the top half is covered. When no holes appear, allow the balloon to dry overnight. Repeat the process until the balloon is covered at least three times.

Remove the balloon from the bowl after it dries and pop the balloon with a pin. Gently remove it from the dried paper. Cut the bottom of the paper "shell" to create even edges.

Make another glue mixture and cut newspaper squares. Crinkle the squares and dip them in the glue mixture. Press the squares into the bottom of the shell about 1/4 of the way and let dry.

Crinkle newspaper into shapes to create the tail, legs and head. Take newspaper strips soaked in the glue mixture and wrap them around each piece. Use undiluted glue to adhere the tail, legs and head in place when they are dry. Continue filling in the shell using newspaper and glue mixture and let it dry. Layer newspaper dipped in glue mixture on the underside of the shell and let it dry.

Prepare pulp to add to the turtle creation by tearing eight sheets of newspaper into tiny squares, covering them with hot water and letting them soak for 24 hours. The following day, boil the newspaper, let it cool, and then beat it with a mixer. Strain the mixture and remove the excess water. Add glue and mix until the mixture feels like modeling clay. Apply the clay-like mixture over the entire turtle.

Sand the turtle after it is completely dry to get rid of any bumps.

Paint the turtle with acrylic paint and allow it to dry.

Tips & Warnings

  • Allow the turtle creation to dry in between each step to ensure it stays together.

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