Learn how to make a Paper Mache Volcano! Paper mache is an art form that is fun for all age groups. Whether you want to make something with your children or have a solo crafting session, paper mache is a great way to create some lasting pieces. You can use these pieces as party decor for any occasion or as formal decor around the home as well. It is a simple process that yields a very high-quality result and the best part – the clean-up is super-fast and super easy!
Paper Mache Volcano
One of the things that pretty much everyone has had experience with is making paper mache volcanos. They are the symbol of middle school science fairs and have become the classic science projects that most of us will make at some point in our lives. We may make a simple volcano that looks great as party décor or an erupting one that showcases the power of science. A paper mache volcano is not only really impressive but it can be a lot of fun to make as well.
Paper Mache Volcano – Supplies
Just like with any craft project, if you have all your supplies ready to go, the process will be a lot more fun and the end result will be that much more successful. You won't need many supplies for this paper mache volcano project but it is always worth it to check if you have all of them. And if you don't, a trip to the craft store is never a bad idea!
Supplies - Paper Mache Paste
- Microwave Safe Bowl
- Storage Box (If you want to store your paper mache paste till you are ready to use it)
Supplies - Paper Mache Volcano
- Empty Plastic Bottle (a small one works better)
- Cardboard Box (to act as the base for your volcano)
- Masking Tape
- Newspaper (or any other scrap paper you may have lying around. You can also use paper towels but may need more layers)
- Acrylic Paints (they are waterproof and comes in an array of colors)
- Waterproof Varnish (this is completely optional but you can reuse the volcano with this topcoat)
Supplies – Volcanic Eruption
- Paper (to create a funnel)
- Red Food Dye
- Bicarbonate of Soda
- Warm Water
More Articles on Paper Mache
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- How to Make a Paper Mache Mask
- How to Make a Paper Mache Bowl
- Paper Mache Pinata
- Paper Mache with PVA Glue
- Paper Mache Globe
How to Make a Paper Mache Volcano
There are two types of paper mache volcanoes that you can make – a simple volcano or an erupting one. Once you have decided which one you’re making, you get all your supplies ready and start building your paper mache volcano. For the eruption from the volcano, there is just one extra step that you need to do once your volcano is dry and ready to go.
How to Make Paper Mache Paste
Before you can start building up your paper mache volcano you need to get your paste ready. It isn’t really a long process but it does need time to cool down so making it in advance is always a good idea. Plus, it stores really well for 1-2 days!
Step 1 – Mix
Mix together one part of the flour with two parts of water in any microwave-safe container. For an average-sized volcano, you will need about half a cup of flour and one cup of water.
Step 2 – Microwave
Place your container in the microwave and start it up at full power. You basically want to cook this mixture until it starts to thicken and bubble slightly. Depending on the different performances of different microwaves, it will take anywhere from 30 seconds to 3 minutes for it to get to the desired point.
Step 3 – Cool Down
Once you have your mixture out of the microwave, you can leave it out to cool down for a while before it is ready to use. If you want to store it, do so in a covered container in the fridge and use it within 1-2 days.
Paper Mache Volcano Instructions
Once your paper mache paste has cooled down, you can then start building up your volcano. Make sure you have an ample amount of space and all your supplies at an arm’s length to ensure a smooth process. You may also want to cover your workspace to ensure that you don’t get any paper mache paste drippings anywhere which also makes cleaning up much easier.
Step 1 – Make a Base
This step is very important if you’re making an erupting volcano but can be a great addition to a simple volcano as well. Get your cardboard box and cut it down so you have a nice smooth base. If there are any holes or flappy bits, just tape them down so they don’t spring up at any time.
Step 2 – Build Volcano
Once you have the base made, place the plastic bottle, sans bottle cap, in the middle of it. Surround the bottle with scrunched-up newspapers and build it up in a stackable pattern. Once you have the structure ready, use the masking tape to give it some more support. This structure is what you will cover with paper mache so make sure it has the shape that you want.
Step 3 – Paper Mache
Now it’s time to start doing paper mache! Tear up strips of the newspaper, or any other paper that you lying around to make it easier and faster for you to cover your volcano. Dip the strips into the paper mache paste and apply it smoothly and evenly on your volcano base shape. Start with one layer and build up as it starts drying out. You need to check for any gaps or holes and cover those before letting your volcano dry completely.
Step 4 – Paint
After the volcano has dried you can start getting creative. You can paint your paper mache volcano however you want but if you want to go the traditional route, you should start with a dark brown base. Mix brown and black paint colors and use that to cover the base completely. You may need a few coats to make the color really opaque. For the top, you can do streaks of red, orange, and yellow to mimic the look of lava running down the body of the volcano. You can add some layers that are more opaque than others to create a more textured look.
Step 5 – Final Top Coat
Once your creative masterpiece has dried, you can add a final layer of varnish. This varnish layer is not necessary but will help you keep the volcano for a longer time. This clear varnish topcoat helps protect the paper mache volcano against the eruptions that you may or may not be doing with it.
BONUS - How to Create a Volcanic Eruption
Now, you have your paper mache volcano ready and you want to create some magic with an eruption. The eruption is not only fun but will serve as a great way to explain to children how different chemical reactions work. Get your supplies ready and you maybe go outside to avoid any big messes.
- Create a paper funnel and place it inside the opening of the volcano. The funnel should be long enough to get through to the middle of the plastic bottle that sits in the middle of the volcano.
- Mix some warm water with red food dye and keep aside.
- Pour in about 2-3 teaspoons of bicarbonate of soda through the funnel.
- Take the funnel out and pour in the water and dye mixture.
- Now, this is the part where you have to move fast and get your cameras ready if you want to film the process.
- Get a glass full of any vinegar, any inexpensive one will do, and add that to the volcano.
- Step back and enjoy the eruption!
Extra Tips –
- The best part about having a cardboard base is that it saves a lot of effort that you may have spent on cleaning up.
- The delicate balance of bicarbonate of soda and vinegar ensures that your eruption project is a success and that is something you need to be careful with.
- If there are any rogue drops anywhere just take a wet cloth and wipe them away, it’s that easy!
Paper Mache Volcano – In Conclusion
Whether you want to make a volcano for a science project or as décor for a themed party, learning how to make a paper mache volcano is very difficult at all. You can make volcanoes that you only use once or you can make a volcano that you can have for years and years to come for any other parties you may have or even as whimsical décor. The supplies you need are not very hard to find and the process allows you to be as creative as you want to be. With an erupting volcano, you can not only have some fun but also have the opportunity to teach children about some fun chemical reactions. Make one alone, or with your children and have the best time!