Thursday, September 12, 2013

We Fought the Craft... and the Craft WON!

Alternate title: "Why Our House Is Now a Superfund Site"

While searching the internet for fun things to do with our Galloping the Globe curriculum, I ran across this fun-looking craft from Pioneer Woman - making a paper-mache globe! Is that an awesome idea, or what?

I decided that we, too, were going to make a paper-mache globe. It looked like fun, and it couldn't be that hard. Right? Right?

However, from the very beginning, this craft was cursed by the universe. Seriously. Every single step of it.

But at the beginning, I didn't know that. So I blithely wrote "balloons" on our grocery list and planned to go ahead. Ah, the innocence of youth.

For several weeks, DH - who does a lot of the shopping - just forgot to buy the balloons. That was okay. I just kept putting them on the list.

After a month or two of that, the balloons were finally remembered and bought, and we moved ahead. The 7yo and I concocted the paper mache mixture (recipe at above link), waited a few hours for it to cool, and grabbed out a balloon to give it a whirl.

Yes, this picture is upside down. But you get the idea. 
Except that the balloons were.... mini balloons. And not just mini-balloons, but oval-shaped at that. (Most balloons are. I don't know why I expected anything different, but I did.) Well, crumbs. Balloons (big ones!) went back on the grocery list, and the toddler got the balloon.

I consulted the internet again, and several sources said that paper mache mix would last for several days in a covered container. Great! I boxed it up and figured that it would be ready for another day.

Two days later, after we had gone to the dollar store and come home with a package of punch balloons (much rounder than normal balloons), we were ready to go again.

We came home, went to the kitchen, and opened up the container of paper mache mixture.




Well, I'm not sure WHAT was growing in there, but...

(1) It was bi-colored. Pink and yellow. 

But more importantly...

(2) It was BUBBLING. Actually bubbling. You could sit there and watch it bubble.

After I got done dancing around the kitchen while shouting "Holy cow, it's bubbling!", I realized that we might not be able to use that batch of paper mache mix anymore. Just possibly.

I realized later, though,that what happened was actually quite the compliment to my kitchen! For several years I've been working on developing a healthy microbial atmosphere in my home. Among other things, I've been engaging in a ton of lactofermentation - making constant batches of yogurt, kefir, kombucha, lacto-fermented salsa, sourdough, etc. - and the fact that my kitchen was basically able to produce something like an active sourdough starter (i.e. my paper-mache-gone-bad) in under 48 hours was quite a compliment to my kitchen!

After I realized that, I got pretty excited - and by the time my husband got home, I was insufferably smug about the fact that my kitchen had been able to produce a sourdough in two days. I met him at the door with a big "Look what I did!" (Notice how I took the credit.)

But I digress.

The paper mache project was put off for yet another day.

The next morning, I made up another batch of paper-mache mix. We let it cool. And we headed outside to make this thing work!

Oh. my. goodness. gracious. What an adventure.

The 7yo, who was supposed to be helping, is as finicky as a cat about getting his hands sticky. So it required something like an act of God (or at least threats of imminent doom from me) to get him reluctantly involved in helping with a few strips.

The toddler, on the other hand, who absolutely glories in messes, was enthusiastic about plunging his arms into the goo as far as possible, and he was soon coated head to foot in one big mess.

And, though I didn't know it (never having done this before!), paper mache is an incredibly messy project that takes forever!

Add in some dirt, plus the cat's water (that the toddler obligingly poured into the middle of everything), and we soon had a mess for the ages.

Oh, and you can also add in an enormous bark scorpion, whom we found about four inches from where both children were standing barefoot.

By the time we were done with round one (of three), the kids were a mess, I was a mess (physically and mentally!), and the patio was a mess. Cleaning up required a hose-off for the patio and table, a bath and full clothing changes for all involved, and an extra load of laundry.

Oh, my! I was not looking forward to doing this two more times! But at least round one was done, and it looked pretty good.

We left it to dry and went on to do lessons (another bad idea). Several hours, I came back to check on it (it's supposed to dry between layers), and found....

Yup. Disaster strikes again. The balloon had apparently popped before the first layer could dry enough to support the shape.

And it was at that point that I walked the entire project to the trash can and said a firm and final farewell.

Of course, I was pretty disappointed. We'd put in a lot of time and work. But when I realized the work that still had yet to be done on that critter (two more paper mache applications, plus gluing on continent shapes and painting), I realized that I should count my blessings. This was one project that was not meant to be.

If you DO attempt this project, here are a couple of tips:

(1) Use punch balloons. But don't buy them from the dollar store.

(2) You're supposed to use narrow strips of newspaper in order to get a smoother finished. Pioneer woman cheated and used wider strips to finish faster - and I should have done the same. A rough topography is easily preferable to the time it takes to do this project using narrow newspaper strips!

(3) Do this project OUTSIDE. But don't just do it outside - do it on the grass or dirt! You'll save yourself the trouble of hosing and/or scrubbing the flour goo off of your cement.

(4) Do not attempt to do lessons on the day that you tackle this. Or run errands. Or do housework. Or anything else. Realize that the entire day will be sacrificed on the altar of this project.

(5) And here's the big tip: Unless you are among the extremely sturdy of heart, skip this project altogether and do something easier.

Enough said. 


  1. This post had me in stitches start to finish!!

  2. We've been laughing about it ever since too!! :)


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