Letting Life Lead
When we last left our craft (Part 1 – The Framework), we had the agony of waiting for things to dry in 200% humidity. On Day 3 of the project–yesterday–the rain came and left a lot of moisture. Muggy. If we needed a snorkel yesterday, we surely need a kayak today. The box fan helped tremendously and instead of twiddling my thumbs I worked on an Epic Six Sided Snowflake project and an Empty Can Papier Mache project with the paper leftovers from the snowflakes and the remaining papier mache. Mad Craft Multi-tasking! It’s a thing.
Remember when I said Olaf is not a complicated pinata to build, unless you are seduced by details? Right.
I didn’t want Olaf’s features to fly off with the first whack, which is what happened with poor Princess Twilight Sparkle’s brand new pegasus wings and horn. It isn’t dignified for royalty to have their accessories fling here, there and asunder. Please, feel free to be a totally normal person, and skip all the pre-detail work once you get the face/nose and hanging hook on.
All pieces should have three layers and be fairly sturdy. They will need to support their own weight and the weight of other pieces. For now we are just interested in the head. I didn’t cover the ends of the white paper because the head was already the right size and shape. I tucked in the white paper to give it more bite on the ends. It will all be covered by more papier mache’ anyway.
Consult a picture of Olaf. Notice how his eyes, eyebrows, nose and …upper lip?… are fairly close together. Use a sharpie or pen and lightly outline two circles for eyes, a rough circle for where the nose will go. And a gigantic open smile. If you look at Olaf’s picture you an see how the top of the open-mouth smile is a bit wider than the bottom. This project is very forgiving. I just eyeballed it and the results came out great.
Use a very sharp knife (I used a kitchen boning knife) and cut out the smile. It is going to be a big hole, but it is okay. Trust me. The magic is about to happen…
The cut piece becomes the upper lip. It seems weird at first, until you put it on his face. Mine is pretty wide; I could have made it narrower. It will work beautifully anyway. Olaf’s face is very malleable!
There we go! Can you see it now? Play around with it until you get the angle and expression you want.
Hot glue a few daubs at first to allow re-positioning if you don’t like how it sits. Mine ended up being over the nose I sketched, but that was okay since I wanted the nose to look like it was going into his face anyway. Happy accident! Masking tape or fast drying glue can be substituted for hot glue. Regular tape doesn’t stick to the mache’.
A little tip. If the “lip” keeps sagging before your glue dries. Stuff a wad of paper under it. It can stay there and add stability to the face. Next, we need to address the hole in Olaf’s head.
We are inserting the hanging hook (or string if you prefer) right now unlike my last project when I forgot all about it! The top of the head must hold a lot of weight. If it isn’t strong, the first whack with the stick will send your work crashing down to the ground and you’ll end up having to fashion a noose for Olaf to hang from. Not really good for family fun photos…unless you want to celebrate Halloween early! After I tucked in the extra hanging white paper, I picked up a thick pizza box from the recycle bin and cut a shape roughly the shape of the head with spider legs. The spider legs are important! Four will go inside and four outside to give more bite when we papier mache over it (see the next picture). You can just hot glue it, but I don’t trust it to hold under abuse.
If you make the shape close to the size of your opening, when you tuck the “legs” in, the piece of cardboard will fit fairly snug. Hot glue. Or if you run out of hot glue like I did… Hold on a second. I didn’t really run out of glue sticks for my gun. I have two bags of round glue sticks. The problem is that my glue gun doesn’t have a round hole. It has a oblong hole. I do believe that WTF crossed my brain (because I can’t say that out loud in the presence of my children without serious consequences) like a ticker tape. I am sure “they” made the hole a non-standard shape just to piss me off. Really, why not just make them star shaped for all the trouble!? Anyway, a fast drying glue will work okay. I was able to use packing tape as a reinforcement because of the white paper I used to form the structure.
Oblong hole. Dammit!
Last project I used a hanger to fashion my own hook. This time I had a cable! The cable on our garage door broke and had to be replaced. This thing has been sitting on the garage floor all summer. Every time I walked by it, I thought, “I should pick that up and toss it, or something.” But there it stayed. I didn’t want to fight with a hanger again, and as I was asking my Hobby Husband if he had any wire I could use, the idea struck me that we could use this perfectly good cable that had a loop already on one end! Uh, once I remembered where I saw it on the floor. It is looped up and tied with bread ties because we didn’t have a tool strong enough to cut it (plus you never know when length will come in handy for another project). Hobby Husband helped me out with getting it all coiled and set!
The cardboard circles and long rectangles you see in the picture are more reinforcements. Like I said, the head has to hold a lot of weight and you want the weight to distribute. The circles are about the size of the top of Olaf’s head so it will fit snug in his snow skull from the inside. The cardboard strips will criss-cross between the circles. Normally you will want to sandwich your wire (or heavy duty string) between the circles for maximum hold and surface area so they don’t slip out. There was a piece of hardware on the cable that did that for me. Hot glue works great, but also quick drying glue or a lot of masking/packing tape will do the job fine.
The bond must be strong! Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Then shove it into Olaf’s head through his mouth. Glue it, tape it, bond it.
Use those cardboard legs to bond it to the inside very well. It will help displace the weight. If you want all you need is to make Olaf’s “laugh lines” (skip to that part of this pictorial). After that you can assemble the rest of Olaf and put on the final layers of papier mache and accessorize later. Otherwise, follow me as we make an Epic Face on our Olaf Pinata.
Crumble up some foil and fashion a carrot nose and a piece of cardboard to make the tooth. I happened to have a perfect bit cardboard that folded lie an accordian for a perfect 3D tooth. I also found the ass-end of a plastic Easter egg on the kitchen floor. My brain thought, “Ooh, I can use that for a foil eyeball mold!”
Attach the tooth. It is okay if it is a little loose because we are going to bond it with papier mache.
You’ll want to make Olaf’s smile lines in the shape of fat candy canes. Don’t worry if they aren’t quite right the foil will crush and bend very nicely into the shape you want on the face. Attach them at the mouth corners with a daub of hot glue.
I used the half plastic egg to mold eye balls out of foil, made thin foil eyebrows, and glued them on the face with the foil carrot nose. I lined the mouth with paper to cover the gaping hole, attached the smile lines to the corners of the mouth, then added a long strip of crumpled foil to fashion a bump in the lower lip so it would look nicer when it was papier mache’d.
All of this will have a layer of papier mache’ so it will have a cool effect when it is all smoothed over together. Papier mache’ doesn’t stick very well to foil, but it does stick to itself and molds very well. You can cover the foil with tape, but it isn’t necessary.
Papier mache’ that bad boy, smooth out all the wrinkles, get those nooks and crannies, and set it somewhere to dry hanging up. You don’t want to squash all those lovely details. I used extra long pieces of newspaper to make sure the top of his head wasn’t going anywhere and became one with the rest of it. Notice how the top of the head has a more rounded look and how the features are blended together so it looks like they are part of the face — especially the nose? Because of that, you know nothing will go flying off immediately when the kids start laying in with that stick. Plus, it looks really awesome.
Cost So Far: $0.30 (for the flour and salt and hot glue)
(40 years in the making)
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