A Homemade Paper Mache Pig

Paper mache is an ancient and durable craft, used throughout history to create some rather surprising things, including masks, dolls, boxes, clocks and even furniture. According to the Smithsonian National Museum of American History, in its earliest known examples -- dating as far back as 202 B.C. -- paper mache was used to make military helmets. Setting your kids to work making homemade paper mache pigs is a great way to introduce them to this ancient and versatile medium. Fire up your children's imagination by reminding them they're working with a medium their ancestors used thousands of years ago.

Things You'll Need

  • Round balloon, medium sized
  • Masking tape
  • Egg carton
  • Craft knife
  • Wheat flour
  • Large mixing bowl
  • Handheld mixer
  • Torn strips of newspaper
  • Craft paint
  • White craft glue
  • Pipe cleaner
  • Paintbrushes
  • Marker
  • Sandpaper, 80 to 120 grit

Instructions

    • 1

      Create a pig-shaped armature, or framework, to cover with paper mache. Blow up and tie off a medium-sized round balloon for the body of your pig. Use a craft knife to cut out five egg holders from your Styrofoam carton. Tape four Styrofoam cups to the bottom of the balloon to act as stubby legs. Tape one cup over the knot in front of the balloon to make the snout.

    • 2

      Tear long strips of newspaper instead of cutting them with scissors; torn edges are better for a smooth surface. Make the wheat paste. Add water to a quantity of flour and mix until you're happy with the consistency. Use an electric mixer to remove lumps.

    • 3

      Dip strips of newspaper in wheat paste. Remove the excess by gently running the strip between two fingers. Begin applying the damp strips to the pig framework until the whole thing is covered. Let your project dry between coats if it is very wet, to prevent mold. Add at least four or five coats of paper mache to make sure your creation will be strong.

    • 4

      Bake your paper mache pig in a 200 degree oven to ensure complete dryness before finishing. Keep a close eye on your pig while it's in the oven. Check it frequently to feel for damp spots until all paste is dry. Paint your paper mache pig with craft paint. Let the paint dry for at least a day before using markers to draw eyes and nostrils. Poke a small hole in the rear of your pig with a craft knife. Insert a curly pipe cleaner into the hole. Secure the tail with a touch of white craft glue.

Tips & Warnings

  • Keep in mind that the more water you use to thin your wheat paste, the longer your project will take to dry.
  • Dry paper mache can be sanded with a medium weight 80 to 120 grit wood sandpaper to smooth the surface of your creation before painting.
  • Use non-toxic craft paint if you are working with very young children, who tend to put everything in their mouths.
  • Craft knives can be dangerous. Make sure an adult handles the parts of the project that require a knife, and put it away when not in use.
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References

  • Photo Credit series object on black - kitchen utensil electric mixer image by Aleksandr Ugorenkov from Fotolia.com

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