Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Paper Mache Advent Tree

I am not sure if this qualifies for Stashbusting September but it certainly helps. It is a huge WIP I wanted to get out of the way. Plus now that I've finished it I can start more paper mache projects and use up some of the millions of egg cartons I've got hoarded away.

I started this tree two years ago. It is made out of egg-carton paper mache over styrofoam and the tubes are the tubes that E-beads come in. You can see the cross I made out of egg-carton paper mache here.

My plan is to put a note/message/text for every day of the month of Dec. leading up to the 25th in the little tubes. However, I still am not sure what I am going to do. If I figure it out, I will show you. If any of you have a great idea, let me know!!

This photo is closer to the actual color. However, the white is still a bit whiter than it shows here (I wanted the tree to look snowy but not to blast the eyes with bright white so I mixed it with sterling silver grey).

Here are instructions for making your own egg-carton paper mache project.

How to Make Large Paper Mache Projects

Paper mache is a great way to make customized artwork for your home. By making your project out of paper mache, you are able to make something that fits the space and suits your sense of style. Using egg cartons for your paper mache provides you with an inexpensive and uniform source for the base of your paper mache.

  • Paper egg cartons
  • White glue
  • Dry plaster of paris
  • Essential oil (such as clove or tea tree oil)
  • Styrofoam
  • Utility Knife
  1. Protect your work area with plastic or a moisture proof drop cloth.
  2. Design your art piece. Simple designs are best because they allow the texture of the paper mache to stand out.
  3. Transfer your pattern to the Styrofoam. Use a utility knife to cut out the pattern. If the pattern doesn’t fit onto one piece of Styrofoam, do not worry, tape the different parts together. If the project involves areas which are long or weak, it may be prudent to glue a thin slat of wood (old paint sticks or rulers work well) across the joint to reinforce it.
  4. Tear egg cartons into ½-1 inch segments until you have approximately 12 cups of egg cartons pieces. Cover the egg cartons in water and let soak over night. Drain.
  5. Place the pieces of paper in the blender and cover with water. Blend until you have pulp.
  6. Drain off the water. Mix 1-1.5 cups of white glue in the pulp and 1-1.5 cups of plaster powder in the pulp. Add a few drops of essential oil to deter pests.
  7. The mixture is a good consistency when you can push your thumbprint into the pulp and it holds its shape. If the mixture is too wet, add additional plaster of paris powder. If the mixture seems a bit dry, add a little bit of white glue.
  8. Press the paper mache over your form. Do not add more than ½ inch of pulp over your form at a time. Allow the pulp to dry completely. This will take anywhere from 24-hours to a week depending on the conditions. Allowing a fan to blow over the project will decrease drying time.
  9. Continue to add pulp and build up your project. When the front is complete, turn the project over and encase the Styrofoam on the back in paper mache too.
Tips and Suggestions
  • Light weight and small projects can be hung by embedding a strong string in the paper mache on the back with a loop left out to use for hanging.
  • Heavier/thicker projects can be hung by using frame hanging kits.
  • Consider creative hanging methods such as screwing curtain tie backs into the wall and using them as brackets for the artwork.
  • The texture of the paper mache can be tricky to paint. A spray painted base coat makes it easier to get into texture.

I am sharing this at:

Beyond The Picket Fence


  1. Wow! That is so creative, I love it!

  2. This looks good! I'm not sure that I'm up for such a big project, though; I can definitely see it sitting around and collecting dust!

  3. what a great idea, I would have never thought of using those egg cartons. I love the cross too, it turned out so beautiful.

  4. What lovely idea, Melissa. I love the Christmas season!
    Hope your week is great so far. xxooxx

  5. Anonymous1:01 PM

    papier mache is fun. I remember a Halloween mask I made back in grade school using that method. And then I did a project just a couple of weeks ago and boy did I have a mess..lol. But the project turned out well.