How to Make a Giant Fake Mushroom Out of Papier-Mache

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Papier-mache is easy to make with ingredients from around the home. With it, you can create lightweight, custom shapes of all kinds, including giant mushrooms. If you want to decorate a Wonderland-themed party or make a portable prop for a play, use papier-mache to make them.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • Recycled cylindrical container
  • Plastic bag
  • Masking tape
  • Cardboard
  • Aluminum foil
  • Papier-mache paste
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paint sealant
  • Artist's paintbrushes, various sizes

Step 1: The Mushroom Stem

The item you use for your stem depends on the shape and size of the mushroom you're making. Make the stem from a recycled cylinder-shaped container, such as an empty aluminum can, a paper towel roll, an empty paint can or a barrel.

Step 2: The Mushroom Cap

  • Cut a circle from thick card stock that is
    several inches larger in diameter than your cylinder shape. 
  • Squash aluminum foil loosely into a sausage shape, and glue it around the edge of the cardboard circle to create a thick rim. 
  • Flip the card over so the rim is on the bottom. 
  • Fill a plastic shopping bag with scrunched-up
    newspaper until it is at your desired thickness. Use a larger bag,
    like a trash bag, if you are creating a particularly large mushroom. 
  • Tie the bag securely; then glue it onto the center of the card. 
  • Use
    masking tape to squish the cap into a dome shape. Wrap pieces of tape all the way around the cap, over the plastic bag, and stick the ends to the bottom of the card. 
  • Shape the tape over the rim
    each time, but don't attach the ends to the rim. 
  • Repeat these steps until you're happy with the shape of the cap. You don't have to cover the entire cap with masking tape, but make sure the bag is relatively stable in the center of the card.

Step 3: The Papier-Mache Glue

You have several options for papier-mache glue.

  • Mix equal parts of school glue and water in a bowl. 
  • Use non-toxic liquid starch. 
  • Use wallpaper glue. 
  • Mix a
    tablespoon of cornstarch into a ¼ cup of water, stir well; then add
    this mixture to 2 cups of boiling water. The mixture will form a gel. Wait until the gel has
    cooled before use.

Step 4: Layering the Paper

  • Tear newspaper sheets into long strips and dip
    them in your chosen paste. 
  • You may need to use fairly wide strips at
    the start to help shape the cap of your mushroom. These strips should be
    as long as possible to reach all the way across the cap. 
  • Wrap the
    strips from the rim, directly over the top of the plastic bag, to the rim on the other side of the cap. 
  • Add strips of paper until the cap
    is completely covered with two or three layers. 
  • Allow the
    paper to dry completely. 
  • Now, place your cap on top of the cylinder-stem. Attach the cap to the cylinder with masking tape. 
  • Start adding newspaper strips, a few layers at a time, to cover every part of the
    mushroom. 
  • Continue until you are pleased with the shape of the
    mushroom.  

Tip

  • Always let the layers dry out before starting the next set. If you add too many layers at once, the paper might not dry completely and it may grow mold or disintegrate.

Step 5: Paint the Mushroom

  • Using a thick, white acrylic paint,
    cover the entire mushroom. 
  • Allow the paint to dry. 
  • Now, paint
    your mushroom with your chosen colors. Polka dots on the cap resemble a toadstool appearance. 
  • Once the paint is completely dry,  finish the mushroom with either matte or gloss sealant. 

Tip

  • Your mushroom will not be waterproof after this treatment. If you want to keep your mushroom outside, you will need to use marine-grade varnish as a sealant.

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