Where there is a will there is a way

Friday, February 15, 2013

How to make paper mache dinosaur banks (step-by-step)

This project was almost too major - I almost threw them out in frustration.  With Troy's dinosaur, I stopped after only half finishing the paper mache and then the balloon shrunk, so I had to do reconstruction and fixing.  I also left them out at another stage and it rained - so more reconstruction.  But in the end I was glad I hadn't given up because the dinosaurs had alot of character despite being imperfect.

For a smaller project, make smaller dinosaurs (blow up the balloons less).  Or don't stop the paper mache halfway through - or leave them out in the rain! 

We got this idea from a book based on the kids TV program called Art Attack by Neil Buchanan (ISBN 9781405307451).  These dinosaur banks were called "beastly banks".

Stage 1. Paper mache using white (PVA) glue and water.
Georgie and Troy (7), and Lucan (5).  Although he loved the banks, Luke didn't yet have the patience to make one.

Blow up a balloon, and tape on rolled up printer paper for the neck and tail.  Tape on toilet paper rolls which have been cut in half for the feet.  For extra structural strength, also wrap and twist wire to support head and neck - we found it essential and both dinosaurs were later supplemented with wire.  I also glue-gunned the wire construction to the dinosaur.  Get the children to tear up alot of newspaper, and get a small bucket with PVA glue (white glue) mixed with some water.  Dip the strips in the glue solution and cover dinosaur.  This is the time to "go with" the character of your dinosaur, bringing it out.  You can add ridges to the back with folded newspaper.

Tip: You can create a reptilian wrinkly texture for the skin by adding toilet paper to the wet surface.  But don't touch it too much or it will ball up and tear away!

Coin slot and cork hole underneath
When you are done the paper mache and it is dry, cut a coin slot in the top, and a circular hole underneath in the belly, the same size as the cork you are using.  Coil up a piece of wire around your cork to size it, and paper mache the metal ring to act as a hole liner to give it the hole strength.  (I originally gluegunned in a plastic tube, but since it rose up too high with its ridge inside the money couldn't get out - so I had to cut it out and do this later with a glue gun and fabric.  It would have been far neater to do it at this stage.  Photo below.)

Stage 2: Paint with white primer. 

Tips: We used really good quality white primer paint (usually as a prep for walls).  This paint provides a great base for decorating and fills in and seals the sculpture.

Stage 3: Decorate your dinosaur bank using acrylic paint and/or paint store samples. 

Get the kids to mark out their designs with a marker first, and then they can start filling in.  After they have done what they can handle, help them finish it off nicely so they'll be proud of their dinosaurs.

When they are done, they are like characters - encourage the kids to name them.  Polka-dot and Tiger are friends - as the girls who made them are.

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