There is a type of craft project that I have a love/hate relationship with. Paper mache! I like to create play scenes and sets with paper mache because they are very sturdy and end up usually looking more awesome than anything you could buy anyway. It’s fun to think about it, plan it, and see the end result. I also don’t mind the actual creating part, EXCEPT that when you have a little one involved with the process it adds a whole new dimension. That’s where the “hate” part of the relationship comes in. Because of this I have been doing approximately one paper mache project each year for the past 3 years. The first one (click here to see it) was a dinosaur playset. The second was a treehouse and two little playhouses for her small dolls.
A few weeks ago I had the itch to make another project. Svara has been asking to make a castle on and off for awhile now. I figured it was about time! After googling some ideas and combining them with my own ideas I came up with this. I used a short box for the base and cut out squares for the edges. I cut the drawbridge out with an exacto knife. I used the top flaps of the box to create the tower.
Here is a back view. I cut out a little trap door for the dolls and a secret slide that leads to a door at the base of the tower.
The one thing that made this project easier than I thought possible was a hot glue gun! I bought one about a year and a half ago and use it to make hairclips for my etsy shop. But I haven’t really used it for much other than that yet. I figured this was the perfect opportunity and BOY did it make things easier! It dries so quickly and holds so strongly that I was able to put it together quickly and Svara was able to immediately play with it.
The thing about having a baby in the house is that it is impossible to do large craft projects all in one day. So the first day it was just cardboard. Svara played with it like that for a couple days before we found time to do the paper mache. I could have just left it like this, but I like the extra sturdiness that paper mache brings to a project and I figured it would make it look more like stone, so I decided to go for it.
I unfortunately chose a day when Naren was not at home. I had just put Talisa down for a nap in the office and I quickly prepared the supplies. It took a lot longer than I thought, seeing as it is quite a large castle. Svara was having fun at first, but soon wanted it to be finished. I finished it up as quickly as I could, in a panicked state in case Talisa woke up while this huge mess was all over the dining room. Thankfully she managed to stay asleep until the end (though I did have to wash myself up and give her pacifier back at one point).
Then came another difficult part for Svara – waiting for the paper mache to dry! It took about a day and a half in a sunny window. I would have put it outside in the sun, but it’s been rainy lately and there would be a very good chance that I’d put it outside and then forget about it until the middle of a rainstorm. So a sunny window had to do.
Finally it was dry! Time for painting! This took a lot more paint than I estimated as well, so I thinned out the poster paint quite a bit with water. We covered the whole thing with a light grey paint and then Svara had some fun decorating it. If it was up to me I would have taken my time and decorated it so it looked like real stones. But I had to submit, it IS her castle after all. If she wants splotches of color all over it, then so be it…
I just realized I don’t have a final photo, I’ll have to take one and add it here. This has become a popular playset in Svara’s room! She adds some dollhouse furniture, a few plastic animals, and plenty of little dolls to round things out. Even though it was stressful at times I’m still glad we made it since she is having so much fun with it! But I’m betting it’ll be at least another year before I break out the paper mache once again.