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If there’s any one creature that just screams (and I do mean that!) “Halloween,” it’s the crawly, hairy, and generally oversized Halloween spider.

Credit: The Painted Apple

I LOVE making papier mache projects. You can shape your prop any way you’d like; the possibilities are endless. With that in mind, I’m sharing one of my very favorite prop tutorials with you: the Papier Mache Spider.

NOTE: This project will take a few days to complete (mainly due to drying), but the results are well worth the time and planning. This project also lends itself to artistic interpretation and variation; a group of people can work on this project together, and each spider will turn out unique. That is one reason why this is one of my favorite craft projects.

As with any project, make sure you have all of the materials you will need to complete the project before you begin.

Materials Needed:

  • Paper mache paste (recipe below) or bottle of liquid laundry starch
  • Toilet paper or paper towel empty rolls; see pic below and adjust the amount you’ll need according to the size of your spider
  • Paint
  • Two balloons, one smaller and rounder (for the head) and one longer and larger (for the body)
  • Flat (non-shiny) wide packing tape, glue, scissors
  • Shredded newspaper
  • Faux fur, if desired (your color choice; try black, striped, fawn/beige, white or red-and-black striped)

Each balloon will make one spider, so you control the size of your spider by the size of the blown up balloon.


Credit: Pinterest, Kesha O’Dell

First, of course, blow up your balloons. If you want to hang your finished spider from a hook in the ceiling, then tie a piece of yarn around the bottom of the body/abdomen (larger) balloon.

Now tape toilet paper rolls together to form jointed legs (see the image at right for your basic format).  Tape these to the body and across the head so everything stays securely in place. To make tapered legs, pinch/crush the rolls at the very tip (bottom) of each “leg.”

If you’d like, make pointy fangs out of tape by rolling pieces together and pinching at the end. Tape securely to head.


Papier mache paste can be created with items as simple as a bottle of liquid starch from the grocery store and strips of newspaper. (You can also purchase dry papier mache and add water according to the directions.)

For a professional finish, I am including a good paper mache paste recipe:

Credit: Kool Kids Krafts
  • 2/4 C. sugar
  • 1/4 C. all purpose flour (NOT self-rising)
  • 1/2 teaspoon powdered alum
  • 1 3/4 cups water
  • 1/4 teaspoon oil of peppermint or cinnamon or clove (optional)

In a pan, sift together sugar, flour and alum. Gradually pour in 1 cup of the water, stirring to break up lumps. Boil until clear and smooth, stirring constantly. Then add the remaining water and the oil of peppermint, and stir until thoroughly mixed.

When cool, this paste can be stored in a lidded jar for later use.


Credit: Pinterest, Sherri Osborn

When you are ready to paper mache your spider’s body, make sure your work area is protected with an old tablecloth or newspaper. Pour the paper mache paste (or bottle of starch) into a big bowl, and have the long strips of torn newspaper ready.

Dip one strip of newspaper into the paste, then remove excess from the paper with your fingers. Gently lay the wet strip of newspaper on your spider’s body and smooth down. Continue this process until the spider’s body is well-covered.

Be especially careful when you lay strips of wet newspaper around the spider’s legs. You want to ensure that the legs are firmly set against the spider’s body.

Hang or set your spider in a safe place to dry. This could take 1 to 3 days.


Credit: instructables.com

Now it’s time to paint your spider. I prefer acrylic paints. Cover the entire body. 

When the paint is dry, you might prefer coating it with a little shellac or gesso — again, that just gives it a nicer finish and helps the spider to last longer. If you want to add some faux spider “fur,” now is the time .

Whether you hang your spider from the ceiling or in the doorway, or place him on a counter or shelf, remember to enjoy your new arachnid friend.

Happy Halloween!

by Beth Taylor

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