It’s always good to keep a few of these mushrooms laying about! On this month’s Crafty Corner we are going to be getting our hands dirty with a little paper mache to make this fun paper lantern from the classic Mario games. Now folks, please remember, fire bad. This is a paper lantern, please only use an electric candle, LED or small flashlight to illuminate your extra life (unless of course you are doing some strange Mario bros based ritual and you need an effigy to burn).
- 1-2 Sheets White Paper (copy paper or thinner)
- Paper mache paste (see online recipe)
- Plastic bag
- Painter’s or Masking Tape
- Acrylic Paints (Green, White, off white)
- Electric Tealight/LED/Small Flashlight
A) Building the Armature
Though this project is paper mache, it is in fact still a type of sculpture, and so we need an armature or base. This base will be in two parts: the mushroom stalk, and the top (head of mushroom). We will focus on the bottom first.
Cut a circle from the cardboard for the bottom of the mushroom, as well as a side wall. My circle is 4.5 inches in diameter. The side wall, then, is 14 inches long and 2 inches high. In the middle of the side wall cut a arch big enough to fit whatever light you have chosen through. Tape all the pieces together, as shown.
B) Paper Mache Coat the Base
Next add layers of paper mache to the base. There are a number of recipies you can follow from simple flour and water to store bought paste. A quick google search should bring up plenty of options. I personally use a mix of flour, water, a bit of white glue and salt (for preservation). Rip your newpaper into strips. Taking one strip at a time, dip it in the paste, coating it completely. Gently wip off the excess glue before putting in onto your project. Carefully cover your base with two to three layers of paper. Tip: the smaller your chunks of paper the smoother it will go onto your piece. It is more time consuming, but leaves less odd wrinkles and gives a stronger layer.
Let this dry completely (putting it out in the sun helps greatly).
Once the paper mache is dry, we will paint the interior of the base white. This will give the lantern an optimal reflective surface on the inside, and also cover up the not-so-pretty news print. Once the top it on, it would be inaccesible with a paintbrush, so we must complete this step now. Let it dry.
2) The Mushroom Top
The top of the mushroom is made with crunched up newspaper inside a plastic bag. Note: a balloon could be used as well, as long as it was kept small enough, and round in shape. Fill your bag with crushed newspaper and shape it into a sphere. Test it against the base to check for size. When you are happy with it, tape it off at the neck, cut the excess plastic bag off, then tape the stub down flat against the bag.
B) Attach the Top and Paper Mache Over
Attach the filled plastic bagged to the base with painters tape. Now you can start adding paper mache to the whole outside surface. I like my first pieces to be vertical stripes over the tape to reinforce the connection of the two pieces. Again, apply two or three layers, then let it dry. With no cardboard on the top as an armature, you will need to repeat this several times to get a good strong piece (it should end up about the same thickness as the cardboard). Again, let it dry (patience you must have, my young padawan). If you have uneven spots or dents, take a strip of newspaper covered in glue, ball it up, and mold it into your dent. Cover the area with flat strips to blend it back into the piece.
3) Creating the Spots and Hollowing out the Mushroom
A) Creating the Spots
The large round spots on the 1-up mushroom will serve as the illuminated area of the lantern as well as the windows through which we will remove the plastic bag and stuffing (making the lantern hollow). I have five spots that are circles 2.5 inches in diameter. I made a pattern using a compass and traced them onto the outside of the mushroom. Next carefully cut the circles out of the mushroom top.
B) Removing the Filling
The plastic bag that was used as a form for the top should release from the shell with gentle pulling. Carefully remove it, and all the crushed up newspaper in pieces through the spots (kind of like the mummification procedure). You will be left with a completely hollow shell.
C) Smoothing the Edges
To make nice smooth edges along the spots, put a quick layer of paper mache (small pieces) over the newly cut rough edges.
4) Painting and Placing Paper in the Spots
A) Take this opportunity to paint the inside of the mushroom top white (through the holes) again, this is to cover the news print and make a reflective surface. Paint the outside top of the mushroom green, making sure to get the edges of the circle windows (so you can’t see newsprint along edges when you look at the piece from other angles) Paint the base/stalk off white (or white, depending on the image reference of your choice). Lastly, carefully take a thin paintbrush and paint on eyes (a set of paralell vertical lines, with rounded ends).
B) Placing the Paper.
To hide the inside of the mushroom, and give the piece a real paper lantern feel, we are going to cover the open spots with white printer paper. Cut five circles from the white paper, slightly larger than the diamter of your spots (so they have enough space along the outside diameter to glue). These will be placed from the inside, like a picture in a frame. Place a line of glue along the edge of a paper circle, gently fold it enough to get it through to the inside, then, using the other spots for access for your hands, press it into place. Tip: place the spot closet to the back (where the light will go in) last. This is the trickiest one, and if it doesn’t come out as neat, at least it will be in the back. I used a pencil and my candle opening to jimmy it into place.
Just one more round of drying, and you are done!
Turn on your light and place it in the the mushroom! Congrats! You have received 1-up! Thanks for crafting with me! I will be back next month for my favorite holiday, Halloween!