Paper Mache Baskets

I've been wanting to try paper mache for a while, but I always found a reason we couldn't do it. Last week, though, we ended up with a bunch of balloons from my sister's baby shower, and I kept looking at them thinking...we should really use those! So, last Wednesday, I bit the bullet and ripped up a bunch of old newspapers for some paper mache!

There are a few different ways to make the paste for paper mache, and a quick Google search will help you see all the options. I went with the cheapest, easiest method that didn't require me to buy anything: flour and water.
Paper Mache Paste
5 parts water
1 part flour

Combine ingredients in small saucepan and boil until thickened, about 3 minutes.

The paste kept well overnight. It was in a coffee can and I just put the lid on it to keep it until the next day.

My first thought was just to cover the balloons with no real end product in mind, but when we started, I had an idea to make them in to baskets instead. I drew a line on each balloon to show the children where to stop covering them.

This project took a total of 4 days: 3 layers of paper mache, and a final day for decorating.

The first two layers were made of newspaper. To make it easier to paint, we did the final layer in white computer paper. (This step could definitely be skipped if you don't want to waste brand new paper.)

You need to wait until each layer is completely dry before starting the next. That's why we just did a layer per day. If you started in the morning, you might be able to get two layers done in one day if you wanted to.

Cover the balloon twice for each layer (so, I guess technically that's two layers....but whatever.)

After your final layer is dry, pop the balloons and start decorating!

I was honestly surprised that my boys weren't more in to this project. They liked the gooey paste for a few minutes, but got bored with the task of actually covering the balloons. My friend's 8-year-old daughter, however, loved it and helped me complete all 4 projects once the boys lost interest.

Side note: I'm so glad I always save all my coffee cans. We used them to hold our paper, hold up our balloons, and keep the paste. SO much easier than needing to use a bunch of bowls.

I was thinking baskets...the kids were thinking weird alien-head helmets.

We used paint, markers, stamps, glitter, and even my husband's airbrush to decorate the projects.

Everyone's project turned out great, and it was a relatively quiet hour while they worked. I call that a win.

This little one was my favorite. The balloon didn't come out of the inside when we popped it, so it's all purple inside:

When the paint dried, I used a hole punch and some ribbon to add a handle to each "basket."

This was so fun, even if the younger ones didn't get excited until we got to the painting part. Definitely something we'll be doing again!