A K-12 papier mache activity utilizing the visual arts to construct the universe and then suspend it from the ceiling to replicate the real thing.
- Round balloons or 1″ mesh poultry netting
- Liquid Starch
- Tempera Glow in the Dark Paint
- White paint for primer
- Paint Brushes
- Bowls for papier mache
- Plastic drop clothes
- Fishing Line
- Wooden dowels or sticks to hang planets
- List each planet, star or constellation on a piece of paper and put in hat
- Pass hat around and have students choose a planet, star or constellation
- If working in groups, each group can build a constellation
- If working individually each student can build a planet or star
- One planet, star, constellation is assigned to each student/group
- Blow up balloons or mold poultry netting
- mix papier mache (liquid starch & flour) consistency of a milk shake
- tear paper into strips
- dip paper strips into papier mache bowls
- wrap around balloons or poultry netting, you can also use wadded up newspaper wrapped in masking tape and then wrap papier mache around that.
- Let dry one week and then primer
- After primer dries paint with glow in the dark paint
- If you use balloons you will need the wooden sticks/dowels to criss cross and then place inside the papier mache planet to suspend with the fishing line.
- If using poultry netting (chicken wire) just tie the fishing line to the wire
- If you have a drop ceiling you can tie these from the cross bars but be careful about putting too much weight on the ceiling, or use long shank hooks screwed into a stud.
- Have each student/group research the planet, star, constellation they are working on
- Each student/group lists 3-5 aspects of their planet, star, constellation and writes a report
- Each student/group researches photos to replicate the colors, shape and attributes of their planet, star, constellation
- Each student/group gives a presentation of their planet, teaching other students what they learned about their planet, star, constellation
- If using the components of artistic criticism: describe, analyze, interpretation, judgement
- Hang planets, stars and constellations from the ceiling with fishing line to simulate the solar system, constellations, stars.
History of Papier Mache
Despite the French sounding name, papier mache was not made in France until the mid 17th century. However, they were the first country in Europe to do so.
Papier mache originates from China; the inventors of paper itself. They used papier mache to make helmets, which they toughened by many layers of lacquer. Examples have been found dating back to the Han Dynasty (BC 202 – AD 220).
From China, the interest in papier mache spread to Japan and Persia, where it was used in mask making and festival activities. Eventually it spread across the world. Large imports of papier mache objects swamped European markets. This led France to start making its own wares, and England followed suit in the 1670s. There was only a half-hearted interest until the late 1700s and into the 1800s, when it became widely used.
Visual Arts Vocabulary
- Sculpture – art made by shaping or combining materials such as clay, glass, paper, marble, wood, metal, etc
- Armature – the skeleton of a sculpture, the inside frame around which a sculpture is built, provides stability and strength
- Papier mache – French word meaning chewed paper, a mixture of paper and glue, starch, flour or wallpaper paste
- Primer – prepares an unpainted surface for future layers of paint
- Design – a plan, in this case an artistic plan or design
- Sketchbook – a book of blank pages that artists use to plan and draw their ideas in
- Primary colors – red, yellow, blue (colors that cannot be made by mixing any other colors together)
- Secondary colors – green, orange, purple (colors made from mixing 2 primary colors together)
- Three Dimensional – having depth along with length and width, i.e. a sculpture, chair, bottle, etc.
- Two Dimensional – having only length and width (no depth), i.e. a drawing or painting, a flat surface