Our Foray into Paper Mache

In Props by Jenna Wolford

Vintage Paper Mache Pumpkin Lantern

Real Vintage Paper Mache Lantern

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I love those vintage pumpkin lanterns that go for like $50 on eBay.  If I had billions of dollars and thousands of square feet, I’d probably already own all of them like some weird collector that aims to have the last existing whatever.

Lucky for the rest of the world I have neither.  But I do have newspaper, water and flour.

So Guy and I made our own paper mache lanterns, and I gotta tell ya, they were fun and pretty easy to do!

We made 3 small and one large.  We ended up making the glue like 4 times, but it’s not a big deal.  If you wanna do this, I’ll break down the supplies we used.

* Newspaper, ripped into strips about 6″ – 12″ long
* Assorted balloons from the dollar store
* 2 cups hot water
* 2 cups cold water
* 1/2 cup flour
* 3 tablespoons sugar
* White tissue paper

Heat the 2 cups hot water to boiling.  Meanwhile, mix 1/2 cup flour into 2 cups cold water.  When hot water reaches boiling, mix your cold water/flour mixture into it.  Bring this all back to a boil.  When it’s done, add in your 3 tablespoons sugar.  Mix, wait for it to cool, and enjoy.

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We learned not to “pre-soak” your strips because it pretty much dissolves into unusable snot.  Dip a strip in, wring out the excess glue with your fingers, and slap it down on your balloon.

We placed ours on wax paper with a phone book pressing down so they had a flat top and bottom.  We stuck them in front of a fan.  They dry pretty quick, the top/bottom taking longer, of course.  We ended up putting 2 layers down when I realized I should have rubber banded either the balloon or the covered ballooon while it was wet to make a pumpkin shape.  I slapped some extra on there, and it looked ok.

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The general rule is to really let these things dry.  We made these over the course of a few days.  It was fun to get dirty time and time again.  Really!

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Next: Pop the balloon, pull it out.

Carving was fun.  We modeled a couple after the vintage lanterns we found on the internet and a couple we just cut typical jack o lantern faces into.

I looked all over the place trying to find the right thing to paint it with.  I was totally paranoid that we’d screw them up and have a pile of sad goo.

We ended up going with colorful latex house paint we had laying around in the basement.  2 light coats (think unsaturated) and you’re in business.

Mix some water with your paint for an aged effect for both the green base and to fill in areas that would naturally have shadows.

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We finished by drawing the eyes and mouth on tissue paper, cutting them to size and taping them in.

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