Category Archives: paper mâché

Totem Poles

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Totem Poles are such a unique form of artistic expression. They are made by the Indigenous peoples of the Pacific Northwest Coast, which includes British Columbia, Alaska, Washington and Oregon. These impressive sculptures are carved from the trunks of very large trees, typically Western Red Cedars, and used as a way of documenting and communicating stories, myths and legends. Exploring one part of Canada’s rich cultural heritage is a nice way to celebrate Canada Day.

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Party Piñata

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The end of another school year is just around the corner, and parties are a great way to celebrate two months of homework-free bliss. All you need is a nice sunny day, some water balloons and sidewalk chalk, great food, good friends, and of course a piñata. They’re fun to make, to fill and destroy!

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Paper Mâché Bowling Pins

While exploring the labyrinth of streets and medieval alleys in Lisbon’s historical Alfama district, I came across a teeny little shop called Chapito. Turns out it’s part of a school, and showcases an interesting assortment of products made by students and graduates, including some lovely enamel jewelry, cork necklaces, and a bowling pin covered in comics. This was definitely the coolest looking bowling pin I’ve ever seen, and served as inspiration for this project.

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Japanese Paper Ornaments

This is the time of year when thoughts of plastic icicle ornaments dance in my head and send shivers down my spine. For I was a child of the seventies, when tinsel garlands strangled trees, spray snow ruled, and perky santa stencils adorned far too many windows. As a consequence, during this time when the ubiquitous homemade ornament is upon us, I feel there’s no reason why children can’t be taught to make beautiful ones. After all, you’ll be staring at them for weeks on end, and dusting them off year after year. While there will always be room for that first glittery pine cone carried lovingly home from kindergarten, these ornaments, made with delicious Japanese papers, will really stand out.

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Going Tribal: African Shields

In the past, African shields were designed to offer protection during combat. Small, lightweight shields offered greater mobility for close combat, and large, heavier ones provided more protection during ground battles. The patterns and designs on the shield indicated the person’s rank and status on the battlefield, as well as the ethnic group he belonged to.

Shields were also used as accessories in initiation, funeral, and dance ceremonies. A variety of materials were used like animal hides which provided strength and durability; wicker, a lightweight material used for weaving; wood which was sculpted into smooth shapes and carved with designs, and metal. Pity these glorious shields can’t protect us from the relentless sounds of the vuvuzelas.

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Bumpy Pencil Holders

At one point, I had a serious addiction to wasabi peas. For two years I easily went through a tin a night, which had my husband pointing me in the direction of Chinatown for cheaper alternatives. Not being one to throw anything out that has the potential of being transformed into an arts and crafts project, I ended up with hundreds of wasabi pea tins in my basement. No joke. Do the math. Naturally I had to come up with various projects to make use of them, one of which was the bumpy pencil holder. Children have really enjoyed making them, but of course there are only so many bumpy pencil holders one can make. The remaining tins were eventually donated and I have now moved on to chips.

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Carnival Paper Mâché Masks

February is carnival time and Rio, the Caribbean Islands, New Orleans, and Venice are all celebrating. This project involves making some great paper mâché masks, inspired by the centuries-old celebration in Venice.

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