How to Make a Giant Snake From Chicken Wire & Paper Mache

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Paint the snake in vibrant colors.
Paint the snake in vibrant colors. (Image: Hemera Technologies/PhotoObjects.net/Getty Images)

If you want to make a giant snake for a parade floater or for your kids, make the figure as light as possible, so it will be easy to lift and move. Opt for paper-mache to obtain a lightweight figure. Giant figures require an armature, which holds the paper-mache together and provides the figure the support it needs. Chicken wire is an inexpensive solution for your armature and is also used in construction to hold plaster or cement.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspapers
  • Wire cutters
  • Tape
  • Bowl
  • White glue
  • Vegetable oil
  • Paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Varnish

Establish the size for your snake (the length and diameter), and draw a sketch.

Crumple newspapers and tape them together to shape a cylinder or a snakelike form. Make the middle thicker and the ends thinner.

Bend the chicken wire and wrap it around the newspaper cylinder. Tape the edges of the mesh together. Shape the head into a square using wire cutters and tape. Alternatively, use a cardboard box that is proportionate to the rest of the snake's body. Tape the box to the body of the snake.

Mix the paper-mache liquid in a ceramic or plastic bowl using equal amounts of water and white glue. Add 1 to 2 tbsp of vegetable oil as a preservative.

Rip newspapers into 2-inches-thick strips. Given the size of the snake, you will need hundreds of newspaper pages, depending also on the number of paper layers you want to apply.

Dip a strip of paper into the paper-mache solution and place it on the snake's armature. Do the same with other strips of paper until covering the entire armature. If using a cardboard box for the head, cover this in a layer of paper as well. Leave aside to dry overnight.

Cover the first layer of paper in a thin layer of paper-mache paste, and then dip paper strips into the remaining paste to apply the second layer of paper.

Apply between five and 15 layers of paper-mache, depending on the desired thickness. More layers of paper result in a sturdier snake. It's not necessary to allow the paper to dry after the second layer, so you can apply the third layer as soon as finishing the second. Allow to dry after you have applied all layers.

Cut a two strips of cardboard for the snake's tongue and tape them to the sculpture. Cover the tape with a few newspaper strips dipped in paper-mache paste.

Paint the snake in one or several colors, adding eyes or patterns on the snake's body.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you intend to place the snake on a parade floater, apply two layers of varnish. The varnish protects the paper from rain.
  • To skip the painting, mix the color into the paper-mache paste, and use the colored paste for the last two or three layers of paper.

References

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