Sunday, June 11, 2017

Paper Mache Dinosaurs

Writing for ChemKnits has given me the opportunity to explore a lot of new crafts, but it also has been a fantastic excuse to explore older craft techniques, too.  I haven't done paper mache in YEARS.  My grandfather still has a paper mache box I made when I was 10 or 11 in his china cabinet, and that may have been the last time I tried this.  When I saw a picture of paper mache dinosaur feet made out of tin cans on Pinterest I knew that this would be a perfect DIY project to try for Rowdy's dinosaur themed first birthday party.  

I love a crafting project that can be done with items I have laying around my house, and especially with items that would otherwise go in the trash or recycling bin.  With the exception of the paint, tape and glue, all of the materials for this project came from packing material and other recyclable products.  In addition to the dinosaur foot cans, I really wanted to try to turn a soda bottle into a Pteradon.  I painted some soda bottles for Lucky's second birthday party, and for some reason the shape of the bottle looked like a Pteradon head to me.

I used the bottom of the can to make a circle on some cardboard before free cutting out a foot shape.  I used piece of cardboard as a guide to cut the second piece.  I flipped one of the pieces over so I could secure them to the cans as mirror images.  I glued the cardboard to the cans with some craft glue and allowed them to dry overnight.  

I had some cardstock scraps left over from when I created birthday hats for one of Lucky's birthdays.  I cut strips and rolled them to add some dimension to my dinosaur feet.   The tape that I used was medical tape we were given to label bottles at the hospital where Rowdy was born.  It felt fitting to use the rest of this tape for his first birthday party decorations.

For the Pteradon bottle, I cut slits on either side of the plastic soda bottle with a box cutter.  I cut two wings out of cardboard like above so I could slide them into the slits and tape them into place.  At least I intended to tape the wings in place.  They stayed really well without tape so I decided to leave them be.

I constructed a flattened cone out of card stock for the beak.  This I needed to tape into place.  I know that the head placement is pretty low relative to the wings, but this is my idea of a cartoonish pteradon.  The bottom of the bottle is like the feet, and it has a large body/head thing.

Finally, I taped some card stock tubes to the wings so I could help build up the 3D shape once I started adding the paper mache strips.  My prep work was complete!

For the paper mache itself, I had a lot of brown packing paper that had come with different packages.  I tore the paper into inch wide strips that were a couple of inches long.  I tried to prep more strips than I thought I would need so that I could work quickly once my glue was ready.

My glue mixture was 1 cup of flour in 5 cups of water.  I let it boil for a minute until it thickened and then let it cool enough so I could touch it.  I forgot to add the recommended salt until after I was done boiling.  Supposidly the salt would help keep things from molding, which would be helpful.  I added a big dash and then mixed it up.

I tore the brown packing paper into inch wide strips.  The thicker paper (more like brown paper bags) held up better in the glue than the thinner paper.  It took some memory to get started, but I remembered that it is useful to squeeze off most of the liquid before applying to the project.

To start covering the feet cups, I put them on a cookie sheet with an old silicone baking mat.  This should catch any spills of my glue and the feet should (hopefully) peel off okay in the end.  I started by adding paper to the top of the can openings to cover any sharp edges.

It has been years since I've done this.  I dropped a bunch of strips into the glue at once and then let them soak a bit.  I seem to remember wanting to squeegee as much liquid off as possible before adding it to my project.

To add some more volume to the feet, I crumpled some of the paper to help build it up around my card stock supports.

When I finished both feet I wondered if I should have done more than two.  I quickly reminded myself not to over do it, I had so many different projects planned that I didn't need a lot more. I was just really enjoying this trip into childhood crafts.

For the soda bottle pteradon, I wasn't concerned about adding volume anywhere, just covering the structure without making any appendages fall off.

I also wanted to have an easier surface to paint over.  I know that a lot of my friends and family didn't see the Pteradon here, and maybe I should have made the beak higher up, but this is supposed to be a cartoonsih representation.  Maybe it would make a better Yoda...

I set the project on one cookie sheet to dry and crossed my fingers.

I don't remember when I completed this project, but I think that I might have been a week or so out from Rowdy's birthday.  It was close enough that I was concerned about the paper mache drying in time.  Thankfully, after a few days (and rotating the objects) it dried completely and I was able to paint the project with a few days to spare.

I didn't take step by step photographs of the painting process, but the paper took paint really well and I didn't need multiple coats on the body.  I added the eyes and beak so hopefully you might see my attempted dinosaur now.  

The soda bottle pteradon has no real purpose, but the therapod feed would work great to hold forks for the snack table.

This paper mache project was a lot of fun because it took very little time to execute and relatively little mess.  I think that if my kids were involved it would have gotten much messier!  These items are just another way to add some whimsy to Rowdy's first birthday party.  I have a feeling that I"m going to have trouble getting rid of these after the party!

Want to see more of my inspiration for Rowdy's birthday party?  Check out my Dinosaur First Birthday Party board on Pinterest.