You know when something starts out as a great idea?
I lay all of the blame on Alex from the brilliant www.dadrites.com, when he posted this imagination inspiring photo.
A freakin’ Snowman-costumed christmas tree! That’s awesome-tacular! Alex is so Christmas obsessed I’m pretty sure that he may be the fat bearded one himself, in a tricky skinny Brit disguise.
This photo, well, it got me to thinking. He’s got a snowman tree; what do I have? Nothing. We don’t even have a tree because I threw the last rat-nibbled one out two months ago. It’s Christmas, Little E is two now, and it’s time to put some fun memories into his brain-cache. This can only mean one thing.
Dad+Nerd craft time! I’m going to 80’s-ify our family Christmas. And what could be more yuletide festive than a:
Ghostbusters’ Stay Puft Marshmallow Man Christmas tree!
You will need:
- newspaper (loads of the stuff)
- cling wrap
- mixing bowls
- small bucket
- 2 x foam craft balls
- white christmas tree
- blue, red and silver tinsel
- black permanent marker
- black acrylic paint
- wooden kitchen skewer
- wire coat hanger
- craft stuffing
- plastic bag
- craft glue
- floristry wire
Before I started, I asked Alex what his snowman head was made from. He told me it was papier-mâché. That’s all. Just papier-mâché. He neglected to add “by the by, it will take you FOREVER to make this bloody hard paper stuff”!
That’s how long I’ve been pasting teeny weeny strips of newspaper on top of other soggy teeny weeny strips of newspaper. I can’t remember a world before wet newspaper. Although I did spot the occasional image of cleavage or an underwear advert looking back at me from the crafty mess. How the little things shine brightly during the dark hours.
Find out everything you need to create your own self-torture by checking out www.papiermache.co.uk. My only suggestion is to use the cooked paste recipe (just flour, water & salt) which is easy to brush and doesn’t go off in a day (stink-city!).
I used our biggest metal mixing bowl as the mould for half of Mr Stay Puft’s head. It would take about 45 minutes to do a single layer of gluey-paper. There were 9 layers total on each half, and after each 3 layers I had to let it dry for hours.
The big plus side? When Little E stole the head and drop-kicked it yesterday, there wasn’t a scratch on it! This may be the toughest puppet head ever made! I reckon it could give ol’ Wolverine’s adamantium claws a bit of competition.
Once the two head-halves were finished, I stuck them together with bits of packing tape and a whole lot more wet paper. And then I carved a hole into the under side, ready to mount on the tree.
But not finished with that bloody papier-mâché yet. I still needed two shoulders and two forearms. So back to the torture chamber (aka. the dining table) and more hours of sticky newspaper in a trance like state.
I used a smaller mixing bowl for the shoulders and a 900g M&Ms bucket for the arms. When the paper-ing was done, I brushed them all with Gesso and then some white acrylic paint. I also painted two 150mm craft foam balls to be the hands.
Here’s the thing about this Dad-craft project. I never actually worked out how I was going to make it before I began. Instead I just stumbled up to each road-block and then scavenged the house until I found something that would solve the problem.
I had three parts of an arm, and no plan on what to do with them. Luckily I raided Phenom-A-Mum’s wardrobe and found an old wire coat hanger. With the aid of my handy Leatherman I transformed it from a carefully shaped domestic tool into a bent and wonky looking piece of wire.
How to attach this to the tree? Perhaps I could engineer some sort of high-tech brace utilising a series of pulleys and locks that would allow for a degree of automated movement? Nah. Just wrap the wire around the tree trunk and yank it tight.
And what better fingers for a Marshmallow Man than actual marshmallows? My lovely local florist donated some old floristry-wire for me to use. Two pieces for each finger, and we even have the ability for some rudimentary positioning. (Mental note: do not eat these fingers when drunk from homemade christmas pudding. They will taste all metallic).
Then it was time to begin getting the poor naked fella dressed. I carved a piece of cardboard into the shape of his sailor’s bib, and glues some thin blue and silver tinsel onto it. A little slice down the middle allowed me to stick it over the tree top.
Some red tinsel for his knotted kerchief courtesy of Phenom-A-Mum’s expert Girl Guide skills. Luckily someone knows how to tie a knot!
I drew the outlines of his eyes and mouth using a permanent marker, and then brushed the large areas with black acrylic paint. So manga.
What are those hat-making people called? A milliner? Well I can now add that niche skill to my useless-repertoire. A circle of cardboard to be the hat band, held in place with three bits of wooden skewer shoved into the poor guy’s head.
And to make the puffy top of the hat, some craft stuffing wrapped in a plastic shopping bag and painted with gesso.
Finally! It’s time for the Grand Head Adding Ceremony!
Ah. Right. Something’s a bit off. I think I somehow got the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man confused with the Stay Puft Marshmallow Giraffe.
After a lot of swear words and grunting I managed to reconfigure the bits and pieces. So here it is:
A VERY DAD-TASTIC & MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL, from the dad-peeps at Big Kid Little Kid!
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