Friday, February 11, 2011

Pigs in progress - ready to fly!


My 5th graders are making flying pigs w/papier-mache. For those of you nervous about papier-mache, I'll admit I may do things a little differently, which makes it VERY EASY.
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As I've told you before, the bodies are plastic bread bags stuffed with crumpled newspaper. This way, the papier-mache dries a LOT faster than when using an armature of wadded up newspaper, so it makes storage easier.
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The kids learned how to cut the end of toilet paper rolls to make tabs to attach, and how to slit the cardboard ears (made from pieces of cereal boxes) to make them curve. The legs and snout were stuffed and taped over, and the whole project got a coat of papier-mache.
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When dry, I hot glued a twist of wire for a hook on the top of each pig. (They need to fly, so I wanted it to be easy to hang them!) I passed out pictures of all sorts of wings: angel wings, butterfly wings, bat wings, etc. The kids cut their own wing patterns out of paper and then made the wings from cereal boxes, whatever size they desired. They had the option to reinforce the wings with wire for a curved shape.
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Currently the kids are doing another coat or two of papier-mache. Next we will add a coat of gesso for strength, paint with acrylics, and glue add-ons such as foam or felt shapes, feathers, wiggle-eyes, sunglasses, halos, tutus, etc, depending on the personality of the pig.

A few words about my papier-mache process:
We use "Art Paste" which is a powder that comes in a box and mixes to make 4 quarts of goo. The kids call it "dog drool". Is it the strongest papier-mache out there? No. But it has wonderful advantages over wallpaper paste, wheat paste, flour and water, or even watered white glue. First of all, it can be mixed and stored FOREVER without spoiling, unlike wallpaper paste, wheat paste, or flour paste. Second of all, it is totally washable, and finally, instead of drying itchy on your skin, it makes your hands feel SOFT. And you don't need to worry about wheat allergies.
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Here's the biggest difference in my process from what many of you do, and the biggest mess-saver. We do NOT dip our strips of newspaper into the goo, and do the typical "scissor off" of excess goo with our fingers. Kids tend to leave too much goo on when dipping the strips, and you end up with oozy, gooey mess that takes a long time to dry, and drips all over the place. What we do is scoop some goo on our fingers and rub it on our palms. Then we touch a finger to a strip to pick it up, and rub it between our palms to saturate the strip. Once some strips are placed on the armature, the kids are encouraged to put a little extra goo on their palms and give their projects a "massage" to smooth down any loose corners.
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I know many of you papier-mache over balloons. I haven't done this in years, since the time we made hot air balloons (there's a big balloon festival here every September). Did you know that temperature changes may make balloons pop? I was in my classroom late one afternoon, and suddenly it sounded like gunfire as balloons started popping one after another! I had to run around blowing up fresh balloons into about 20 drooping globs of wet newspaper. What a mess!! Never again.

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It looks like the kids are being guarded by an ill-tempered dragon! Poor wingless Lucy....

By the way - I must be a little crazy, as this is my 3rd post of the night. I've got a cold, and sitting on the couch with my laptop is my therapy tonight. Anyhow, don't forget to scroll down and see what else I posted earlier this evening.

15 comments:

  1. These pigs are adorable! Thanks for all the great tips. I also use art paste and love that it can be stored. I'm actually just finishing up a papier mache fish project using dish soap bottles. Sound familiar?? I got the idea when I subbed for you! :)

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  2. Hi Janelle! My very first ever blog post was about the fish. Here's the post: http://plbrown.blogspot.com/2010/05/first-time.html

    One thing I would do differently if I did the fish again (a hint for you) is the hanging hooks. What we've done with the pigs is so easy - it's a twist of stovepipe wire with a long "leg" on either side of the loop to glue or tape down. Then we can attach strings when they are done. (You may recall that I foolishly strung the strings on the fish before papier-macheing them, and they were a constant annoyance.) Anyhow, good luck with your fish; I hope you'll post photos!

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  3. Phyl
    You have inspired me! I am getting in the paper mache mood. I think I'm gonna try out some fish!

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  4. I love your ideas! Great work! Wanna links our artblogs? :)

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  5. Phyl, This is brilliant! There are VERY FEW, if any art teacher blogs that discuss paper mache procedures - and the children ABSOLUTELY need the 3D work. Clay is a cinch for me, but paper mache is harder to handle...thank you.

    Love the wire tip, I usually twist a paper clip into the form, but this is better.

    My first time, I stupidly tried art paste paper mache on ballons with 1st graders. Next, I tried animals with 2nd graders, which was much better. I am now making rocketships with 4th grade - which feels age appropriate. If I want to make a TRUE paper mache with art paste and torn paper, how young do you go?

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  6. Dominik, thanks for your comment. Since you indicated you have a blog, I wanted to check it out, and "follow" it, but unfortunately I don't know how to find it. When I click on your name, it says your profile is blocked. So please, if you read this, and you seriously want to share ideas, so far the best way I've found is through "following" The blogs I like. So you need to tell me and my readers how to find your blog!! Glad you like my kiddos' work.

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  7. Hi, Hip Waldorf (cool name!)- thanks for the comment. I know a lot of people successfully papier-mache over balloons, but not me! I generally do papier-mache w/my 3rd graders and older, not because the younger kids can't handle it but more a space/time management issue.

    I think 2nd graders would do great, but since their big 3-D project (teddy bear chairs, to coincide w/their field trip to Vermont Teddy Bear factory is coming soon there's just so much I have time and space for.

    My 2nd graders and older all have two 40 minute art classes during a 6-day cycle, and the K's and 1's only have one art class, so I tend to plan with that in mind. The cardboard sculpture can be easily done in a defined time period, as can clay, so that works great for the younger kids. If I did pap. mache w/my 1st graders it would be something SIMPLE with no armature construction like so that the pap.mache could all get done in one art class. I don't go there.

    I also tend to do pap.mache w/things that are not rigid shaped, but have curved lines and are silly (so that nothing looks "wrong") - you can look back at some older posts to find some I think. My favorite simple armatures are plastic bags, plastic bottles, tennis ball containers, and paper lunch bags. And masking tape. LOTS of GOOD quality masking tape.

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  8. Great idea! Love the bread sack idea stuffed rather than a balloon! Great tips, pictures and inspiration! Thanks Phyl!

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  9. Love the flying pigs! How cute- did you have a reference? Or was it one of those inspiring silly ideas?

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  10. Hannah - there was no reference. I've made pigs before; also fat (but neve flying ones) cats, birds, insects, penguins, lizards, and silly monsters, all using some version of the plastic bag armature. I don't know where/how this process began, but it's very easy and allows for lots of variation and flexibility. I make the decision what our pap.mache project will be year-to-year based on lots of factors: what's "in" (penguins a coujple of years ago for example), and what the group of kids can handle successfully. This year, pigs were chosen because of the ability level of the kids. They are a sweet group, but have trouble with thinking independently, and so the pigs were a good way to start everyone together, step by step, without variation in instructions other than what size bag they chose, and how big they made the ears. The big decisions have come with designing the wings (I do not use templates), and next will be how they choose to paint and decorate them. Last year's group, with much more inate ability and independence, had more choice with the critters we made. Does that make sense?

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  11. Dog drool! Haha... we have called it cow snot. It's the only paste I will use after a year with rotten leftovers... ugh. I'm guessing by your dragon you have done monsters/ simple screamers.
    BTW, that art paste can be used to float diluted acrylics for Italian paper marbling, too!

    I have k-3 and k-5 kids once a week for 43 minutes, so paper mache is something I haven't done too much of... I am going to try Ann Wood's paper mache boats with my 4th graders this year.

    do you think grocery bags would work as well as bread bags?

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  12. Haha, yes it does! I just love the idea of "when pigs fly..." so clever to make an art project off of it! I'm currently doing a paper mache project with water bottles making Sarcophagi. I never thought of using bread bags instead of balloons! As of today I have officially started collecting bread bags... thanks for the great tip! If we didn't finish enough layers on our balloon... by the time I saw the students the week after, our balloons would be deflated and pretty much a waste of a class..

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  13. Ms. Larson, I wasn't familiar with Ann Wood's boats so I just googled them and took a look. My honest opinion? They look cool, but also hard! Seems pretty labor-intensive and painstaking. I've done enough knot tying with wampum belts to last a while so I'm not up to rigging sails! Let us know how it works out.

    As for grocery bags - I use plastic ones for larger papier-mache critters, in particular fat cats (look at my older posts for some pics) penguins, and assorted animals etc. If you ware concerned about time, be aware that a stuffed plastic grocery bag can be pretty BIG. I love the paper lunch bags too - we use them for masks which I'm doing later this school year.

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  14. Hannah, I hope you post the sarcophogi - would love to see them!

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