I have used this technique several times in different children’s rooms to bring a three dimensional wall element to the room. One time it was a huge sun with golden rays in the top corner of a bedroom. Another time it was a moon and stars. This time it is jungle animals, and I have to admit that these are my favorites!
We painted a jungle background border around the room that was dark green with teal grasses and little flowers and butterflies were spread here and there on it. Then, we used sticky back Velcro on the back of our animals and on the border to hold them in place. Here’s how to make paper mache shapes of any kind if you’d like to try.
- Styrofoam Insulation Panels (about 1″ by 2’ by 4’)
- Serrated knife
- Newspaper torn into strips
- Shallow bowl
- Plastic drop cloth to cover table
- Elmer’s Glue
- Water based crafts paints
- Small craft paint brushes
- Sticky back Velcro or Finishing nails
1. Start by drawing your design onto the Styrofoam panel with a pencil. Make sure to make the design fairly easy to cut out. Lots of intricate and small spaces are difficult to cut correctly.
2. An adult must do this step – cut out the shapes using a serrated knife. We added extra dimension by cutting out triangle noses as on this tiger or an extra tusk for the elephant and glued them in place before we paper mached the animals.
3. Take a newspaper and tear it or cut it into strips measuring about 1” x 8” long.
4. Make up the “paste” mixture by pouring a cup of flour into the shallow bowl. It is the flour that makes the project stiff, so add water slowly, mixing well after each addition to get the “paste” to the consistency you want. Try to get all the lumps out as you go.
5. Now, dip strips into the flour mixture and lay them onto the Styrofoam shape, covering the whole animal on the front and back. (Doing both sides keeps the animal from bowing.) I like my first layer of paper mache to be flat and then layer on the texture.
6. Let the first layer dry completely. This is important because it is the water that allows mold to grow so the paper mache must be completely dry before adding another layer. With the second layer you can add texture by scrunching up the paper strips and placing them as you wish onto the animal shapes.
7. Again, let the paper mache dry completely. You may want to add more layers or start painting your animal at this time. We used water based crafts paints to decorate our shapes using small craft paint brushes as well.
8. The last step is to add sticky back Velcro to the back of the shapes and add a strip to the wall. You could also just use a long finishing nail which has virtually no head and sink it into the design and even touch it up with a dab of paint. This will hold it in place, just like hanging a picture!
You can paint a border on the wall to mount the animals to, or add your sun with rays to a corner of the room. A moon and stars are fantastic on the ceiling, especially painted with glow in the dark paint. This can work to make race cars, dinosaurs, kitties, and fairies, or whatever your child envisions!