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Paper Mache Spiders

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

  • Lots and lots of newspaper, cut into strips.
  • Paper mache paste (recipe below) or bottle of liquid laundry starch
  • Black pipe cleaners
  • Paint
  • Fuzz balls from the craft store (optional)
  • Googley eyes (available from your local craft store) or white and black construction paper with which to make eyes
  • Round balloons or lunch paper bags and more newspaper
  • Yarn
  • Tape, glue, scissors, pencil

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

STEP ONE: SPIDER BODY

First, of course, blow up your balloon. If you want to hang your finished spider from a hook in the ceiling, then tie a piece of yarn around the mouth of the balloon. The tie is the top of the spider body. If you want your spider to sit on a desk or shelf, then this step is not necessary.

Alternately, for preschool age children who might not be able to handle a balloon gently enough to keep it from popping, you can take small, brown paper lunch bags and stuff them with crumpled newspaper. Ball up the bag with the paper inside, and tape shut. This will be the body of the spider.

STEP TWO: SPIDER LEGS

The 8 black pipe cleaners will become your spider’s legs. Bend the top of each leg back a little, and secure to your spider’s body with tape. (Careful not to pop the balloon!) Later, you will be able to bend your spider’s legs into any position you like!

STEP THREE: PAPER MACHE

Paper mache can done with things as simple as a bottle of liquid starch from the grocery store and strips of newspaper. If you prefer something with a more professional finish, I am including a good paper mache paste recipe:

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup 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.

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.

STEP FOUR: PAINT AND GLUE

When your spider is thoroughly dry, its time to paint it’s body and give it eyes! I prefer either acrylic paints, but any water-based paint will do. Children’s craft paint will work just fine. Realistic colors include black, shades of brown, red and orange… use your imagination!

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.

A little glue will attach the googley eyes to your spider. Another fun option is to glue small fuzz balls from the craft store onto your spider’s back. This gives a fuzzy and eerily realistic (think, “tarantula”) effect.

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

About Chris Molnar

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