Playing with paper #1

Nothing to beat schoolroom pursuits…

A balloon, a bottle of school glue, a brush, a newspaper and the cardboard ring from inside a roll of masking or packing tape. It sounds like the ingredients for a classic Blue Peter TV craft project, only without the egg boxes (UK residents need no explanation, all others, go here). And indeed, it’s exactly the sort of thing they’d have done on the show, whipping out a perfectly-executed finished item with the famous catchphrase “And here’s one I prepared earlier”.

It was pretty easy. Blow up your balloon. Cut or tear your newspaper into 3 or 4cm strips (say 1½ inches). Put the cardboard ring on the top of the balloon. Brush a newspaper strip with glue and use it to stick the ring to the balloon (having a bowl to put the other end of the balloon into is really helpful unless you have three hands). Work outwards, adding more strips of newspaper (keeping them short helps reduce wrinkling) until your bowl has reached the depth you want. Leave to dry overnight. Wash out your brush. Next day, add more strips to firm the whole thing up. Leave to dry again. Repeat until the bowl is firm and rigid enough not to bend when you press the edge with your finger.

That’s it for stage 1. For stage 2, I’ll be popping and removing the balloon, covering the indentation in the bottom where the ring is with more glued strips, levelling out the top edge, giving any ridges or bumps a light sanding, and then introducing the next layer. For this stage you’ll need a sheet of fine grit sandpaper, a good assortment of fabric scraps, some scissors, some fabric glue and some Mod Podge® or other clear sealer. Don’t forget to watch next week’s episode… er, I mean, look out for the next post.

Old habits die hard. I always wanted a Blue Peter badge…

41 thoughts on “Playing with paper #1

  1. Liking this … waiting for stage 2 🙂

  2. knettycraft says:

    I love that! We did as children. What are you going to make… a bowl… or a lamp?… Looking forward to the next episode 😆

  3. Oh, great fun! I once made a whole pile of light shades with a class of twelve year olds – string, newspaper, balloons and wallpaper glue. Chaos reigned but those shades were a great hit 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      Yes: kids, paper and glue is always a great recipe for sticky chaos 🙂 I’m hoping to avoid some of that… I’ll be levelling the edge and binding it, and then applying lots of small snippets of scrap fabric. Hopefully it’ll be a joyful, colourful result.

  4. You always do such fun stuff. The Victorians used to make small items of furniture with it, some amazing things. Bet your bowl is going to be amazing too.

    • katechiconi says:

      I have two exquisite antique Chinese papier mâché bowls with black and gold decorations. They are delicate and weigh nothing. I’m not aiming for anything too posh, but I do feel a series of bowls coming on; it’s so easy and the results can be dramatic. I have a Pinterest board showing some gorgeous examples – that’s what I’m aiming towards eventually.

      • I once did a 5-day workshop at UCT’s Summer School on papier mache. I made a really hideous mirror with mash and shells, even I couldn’t bear to have it on a wall. Pity, because the teacher was great. She must have thought I was a lost cause 🙂

      • katechiconi says:

        Mash is great for sculpture and furniture, etc, but there’s nothing to beat thin strips of paper for vessels, or they just get bodgy. I’m willing to bet you’re definitely not a lost cause!

  5. What? No sticky-back plastic?! My Grandchildren love watching Blue Peter and have got several badges – they help them to get into places like the Eden Centre for free. Perhaps it’s not too late Kate!
    I’m really looking forward to seeing how it turns out.

    • katechiconi says:

      Definitely no sticky back plastic or egg boxes, but I don’t rule out paper towel rolls at some point 😉 I think I watched Blue Peter in its golden age of John Noakes, Valerie Singleton and Peter Purves. It’s just not the same any more….
      I hope the bowl turns out well. If it does, I have plans for more, and I KNOW I have some gold leaf in a box somewhere…

  6. tialys says:

    You’ve even got the obligatory Blue Peter dog! Although Mouse doesn’t look much like Shep 🤣

  7. nanacathy2 says:

    Wow, is this going to be for Scrap happy day I wonder, looks great fun.

  8. Emmely says:

    Oh, I used to love papier-mâché as a kid! Haven’t done it in years, maybe even decades (wow, now I suddenly feel old…)…
    Looking forward to see how it looks with fabric.

    • katechiconi says:

      I used to love it too, and fabric is a new theme for me, but is a great way to use scraps!
      I’d love to make a really large vessel with soft wavy edges and delicate pale colours, lined with gold leaf. But I have no idea where I’d put such a thing, our house is too small.

  9. craftycreeky says:

    Gosh that brings back memories! I remember making a model hot air balloon from paper mache in junior school 🙂

    • katechiconi says:

      I think if this turns out well, I might give paper pulp papier mâché a go – I believe putting eggboxes and a bit of water in the blender is the way to go! You can make much more complex stuff with the pulp, so it’s an interesting medium.

  10. claire93 says:

    looking forward to the next episode ^^
    I was also an unconditional Blue Peter fan – my favourite presentor being John Noakes.

  11. Looks like lots of fun. Can’t wait for the next step.

  12. kathyreeves says:

    That looks like a fun project!

  13. anne54 says:

    My sister and I made pigs, using egg cartons, of course, for legs and snout. Then there was fun with the pink paint. However, I think your scrappy bowl is going to be much classier!

    • katechiconi says:

      There was always a washing up liquid bottle and egg boxes and the card roll from inside paper towel. Some childhood craft materials are universal! I hope my bowl is going to be classy, and that my skill is not outstripped by my ambition!

  14. what fun! looking forward to seeing the next stage

    • katechiconi says:

      Now I have to get all my fabric scraps out and decide if it’s going to be colour-themed or totally rainbow-coloured! I’m planning to use lots of the tiniest bits that I can’t use for other things, rather than big slabs of fabric. For one thing, it’ll help the whole thing lie flatter and without creases.

  15. cedar51 says:

    awesome, everyone has commented more or less in way I would…have…

  16. That took me down memory lane! Except that I watched it with my kids! However you might have inspired me – I will add papier mache to my list of ideas!

  17. Oh gosh, I haven’t made one of these since elementary school. I believe it was a take-home gift for our mothers. We collaged the outside with tissue paper bits coated with white glue and the inside was painted with gold paint. It couldn’t be used to hold anything wet or heavy, I guess it could have held paper products or dry flowers. It suffered the same fate nearly every school child’s crafts do. It quickly disappeared.

    • katechiconi says:

      These days, we can at least hope it’ll get recycled! This will certainly be a bit more sturdy. I’m actually thinking about options where there are ‘stained glass’ inserts of coloured tissue paper. Or maybe I can make a large globe lampshade out of gently graduated colours of tissue because that wouldn’t need to be too strong. I’m afraid my modest success with this one is sending me down all sorts of distracting rabbit holes….

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