Teatime Crafts: Paper Mache Teapot
Extra-Large Papier Mâché Teapot
& Teacup with Saucer
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Papier mâché is a wonderful art medium for all ages and can be a fun shared project for adults and children. For this teatime craft, layers of paper saturated with glue dry into a thick, hard surface that can be painted with bright colors. We recommend it here as a party decoration but also make it part of the tea party game, “How Does The Elephant Drink His Tea?”.
What you may need:
- Paper- not glossy, preferably newsprint
- Glue (wallpaper paste, white glue, flour and water)
- Plastic drop-cloth
- Teapot & Teacup Forms: bowls, balls, balloons, rings, wire
- Saucer Form: Snow dish, circular serving tray
- Petroleum jelly
- Modeling clay
- Thick Styrofoam (optional to carve pieces)
- Wire coat hanger (optional handle)
- Styrofoam wreath form in a size proportionate to your ball
- 30″ of ½-1″ thick rope (optional base rather than Styrofoam wreath form)
- 1 Ping-Pong ball
- Drying rack
- Utility knife
- Masking tape – or duct tape
- Hot glue gun (optional)
- Sandpaper – fine
- Acrylic paint
- Paint bushes
- Gloss varnish
Selecting & preparing forms:
Our large teapot and teacup were formed on a large exercise ball and the saucer was molded over a round snow saucer used to sit in when sliding down a hill. But you can use almost any size ball, bowl or plate to create your project. In some cases, you may opt to cover your ball with paper and leave it inside. Then it needs no additional preparation. If you want to remove the finished project from the form, first coat it with a thin covering of petroleum jelly. The project will slip off easily.
Choosing a glue:
- Wallpaper paste – Is easier on cleanup and dries rather quickly. It comes pre-mixed or in dry powder. In either case, add more water than recommended for wallpapering and dilute it to a thickness like cream.
- Flour & Water – Mix equal amounts of sifted flour and water. Blend until all lumps are gone. If it thickens as you work, mix in additional water. This takes a little longer to dry than wallpaper paste and takes more scrubbing to remove dried bits from skin.
- White Glue – Dilute regular white glue 50%.
The paper you use can be almost anything that does not have a glossy finish. It needs to be porous, like newspaper, to absorb the glue. It’s helpful to alternate different papers for each layer. Using the comic pages is one choice. Tear strips 1-2″ wide and 6-12″ long. Adjust the size of your strips to make it easy for your child helper to manage.
Moisten both sides of each strip with the glue mixture. Apply strips evenly. Overlap the edges slightly with all the strips going the same direction. (Alternate direction with each layer.) Allow 1-3 days for each layer to dry before adding another. When your form is thick enough, allow it to dry several additional days before painting. (See note about removing the ball below.)
Removing the ball:
If you are using a ball that you want to remove, consider the air release valve the bottom of the teapot and avoid covering the area around it. Make sure that you can see it. Leave the area around it light enough to cut away easily but don’t deflate it until the teapot is thoroughly dry. When your teapot is sturdy, deflate the ball. Cut away enough of the thin paper to be able to pull the deflated ball out through the hole. Smooth the cut edge. Consider painting the inside of the teapot to seal the surface if you want it to last longer.
The easiest base is a foam ring such as one used to make wreaths. Even if it has been used before, once it’s covered with paper and glue, it will be very durable. Another option is to use a length of thick rope cut to fit the size of your teapot ball. Join the ends in a circle with masking tape. With either the rope or the wreath, wrap with several layers of glue-soaked paper. When both parts are ready, glue the base to the ball using a hot glue gun or strong white glue and let it dry.
The handle can be cut from a piece of Styrofoam or shaped with clothes hanger wire. After wrapping it with a thick layer of pasted strips and letting them dry completely, position the handle where you want it on the side of the teapot ball. A hot glue gun can help you hold it temporarily while you anchor it firmly with heavy tape like duct tape.
We’ve provided a simple spout pattern that can be cut from a flat piece of cardboard. One of the easiest ways to fashion a spout is to glue pieces of Styrofoam to each side of the spout pattern and then carve the curves. Cover with a layer of glued strips and let dry completely. Attach it to the teapot ball just as you did the handle.
Mark the line on your teapot ball where you want the lid. Using the heavy tape or the hot glue gun, secure it to the ball. Using a Ping Pong ball for the top knob, flatten one side slightly or cut away a small bit and glue it to the top of the teapot ball.
When making the teacup, only cover half the ball. Be sure to use the petroleum jelly so that you can remove the cup. Add enough layers – drying between each one – to make it strong enough to support the handle.
As with the teapot, use a coat hanger or other stiff wire to make the “C” shape or cut a piece of flat Styrofoam. Wrap one end of the wire over the rim and tape it securely or cut the foam to fit the side of the teacup. Tape the bottom end near the base. Secure with a tape such as duct tape.
For the large saucer using the snow dish (round plastic used for sliding down a snowy hill) cover the surface you’re using – inside or outside – with petroleum jelly. Apply strips as you’re doing with the other pieces. When you’ve built up enough layers, remove it from the form and allow it to dry completely. Then paint and finish with gloss sealer.
Final layers of papier mâché:
When all the attachments are firmly in place, continue applying layers of paper strips being careful to apply evenly and to alternate the direction of the strips between layers. Let dry 2-3 days between layers. Continue until you’ve built up the surface so that it looks like one piece. Let dry 4-5 days before painting.
Deflate and remove the inside exercise ball if desired. Lightly sand the outer surface to reduce the lines of the paper. Paint with a base coat of paint. You might consider a coat of primer that has better “stick” than some other paints. The base coat will probably require two coats for good coverage. Follow directions on the paint products for drying times.
Paint with colorful acrylic paints or tempera paint. Decorations can also be added like decoupage. Allow all decorations to dry thoroughly. Consider sealing it with a gloss varnish or sealer.
This project can take 2 weeks to a month to finish due to the drying times. This varies greatly with the thickness of paper and glue as well as weather conditions – whether you live in a very dry climate or humid one. If your papier mâché teaware will be used for a special event, be sure to allow enough time for at least 5 layers of glued strips to dry and then a few extra days for painting and adding the clear sealer if needed.
Enjoy your new teatime craft with family and friends!
Tea Party Game For Young Children:
“How Does The Elephant Drink His Tea”
This is a simple game for improvisation and silly fun. Encourage children to use their imaginations and to be good hosts, including everyone, no matter how different they may be. The reason we usually begin with the elephant is that he has to deal with his large size and most children have fun trying to use an arm as a pretend trunk to drink tea from the teacup. Other fun animals are slithery snakes who don’t have hands to hold a teacup properly, chickens who only have a little beak, puppy dogs who lap the tea with their tongues but may wag their tails so much they knock over the dishes, spiders (think of Charlotte), pigs (think of Wilbur) and bulls (what about Ferdinand?).
Create a set of cards with pictures and/or words for animals that are familiar to the children.
The choice of animals should be ones that are easy to act out.
Ask each child to draw a card and then sit in a circle around the teacup.
The adult then asks, “How does the Elephant (or other animal) drink his tea?”
The child with that card acts out the part of the animal and imagines how they might behave at a tea party.
As each new “animal” comes to the party, the children are encouraged to remain in character and welcome the new guest to tea.
One child may be designated as the host and would try to figure out who should sit next to each other and what kind of snack each animal would want with their tea.
Using animals from your child’s storybooks adds an additional level of fun.