I never quite know how my ideas will turn out. But, I'll have to say this one turned out exactly how I imagined it.
Our Summer Reading Program at the library starts the end of May. The theme for the Teen Program is "BENEATH THE SURFACE". I thought it would be cool to make a mermaid tail looking like it was diving into the water. It's makes you wonder what she looks like and what IS beneath the surface.
I decided to make my mermaid's tail out of paper mache.
I've found that the easiest thing to use to make paper mache is wallpaper paste and old newspapers. I bought this paste from Home Depot about 6 years ago and it's still going strong. It cost about $5. and I imagine if you were to make your own paper mache out of flour and water, you'd have to buy about $5. worth of flour anyway. It's easy to clean and no mold.
I started by forming the shape I wanted out of chicken wire. (from Home Depot as well) I wired the edges together, bunched it together at the top just below where I wanted the fin to start and formed it in the shape I wanted.
Then, I started tearing paper and dipping into the wallpaper paste. Cover the entire surface with the paper mache and be sure to smooth down the edges. To quicken the drying process, I sometimes use a hair dryer.
Mermaid tail completely covered with the newspaper paper mache.
I next use Gesso (from Dick Blick) to paint over the newsprint. The gesso will keep the newsprint from bleeding through your top coat of paint. It is not mandatory, it just gives you a nice base to start painting on.
Here are the colors I pulled out from my watercolors and acrylics. I also found this package of glitter from the Dollar Store. I knew it would come in handy sometime.
And here it is after I completed painting the tail. It has glitter sprinkled on it randomly and just glistens. I used mostly watercolor paint. I rubbed slightly to blend the colors and when I did, I noticed that the outline of the chicken wire started to show through. That was perfect, because it looks like scales. Yea for surprises!!
I painted a little sign to add to the top of the bookcases "Beneath the Surface" out of scrap cardboard.
I hope you'll try paper mache sometime. It is so much fun and it is a very cost efficient way to make props for the library!