You don't have to wait for your child's science fair to make an erupting paper-mache volcano. Making one at home out of paper-mache is fun for the whole family. Paper-mache is a technique you use to create shapes out of shredded paper—typically newspaper—and glue. Paper-mache glue, also called paste, is a basic mixture of flour and water. The glue is used as a wash over the layers of paper to hold it in place as it hardens into a specific shape. While there are two types of paper-mache glue—cooked and no-cook—this project works best with no-cook glue.
Equipment / Tools
- Small paper cup
- Small funnel
- Stirring utensil
- Cardboard or a round cardboard cake tray measuring about 2 feet in diameter
- Small paper cup or small water bottle
- Masking tape
- Paper-mache paste
- Various colors of acrylic paint
- 1 Tablespoon Warm water
- Liquid dishwashing detergent
- Red food coloring
- 1 to 2 Tablespoons Baking soda
- White distilled vinegar
Make the Base
Make a base for the bottle or cup by crumpling a mound of newspaper into the approximate size of a hamburger on a bun. Tape it down on the center of the cardboard or cake tray. Using masking tape, secure the bottle or cup upright in the center of the mound you just created.
Form the Volcano
Start to build the form of the volcano by wrapping crumpled newspaper around the sides of the bottle or cup, making it as wide as you want at the bottom. Mold and shape it into a cone so the volcano is narrower at the top of your bottle or cup than it is at the base.
Wrap Volcano in Masking Tape
Wrap the newspaper in masking tape, so the outside is smooth from the masking tape. This also secures the newspaper to the base.
Form the Exterior of the Volcano
Tear more newspaper into strips about 1 to 2 inches wide. Saturate one strip of the newspaper by dipping it into the paste. You can also hold the strip of paper in your hand and brush the paste onto the paper using your other hand and a paintbrush. Stick the newspaper strip over the volcano by using your fingers to massage and smooth each strip onto the form. Repeat this process until the form and base are covered with newspaper strips. The strips should overlap and run in different directions.
Let the Volcano Dry
After applying one layer of paper strips, wait 24 hours for the paste to dry. If you wish, you can apply another layer of paper strips until you achieve the volcano shape you like, but every layer of paper strips and glue needs to dry for 24 hours.
Paint the Volcano
When the newspaper and glue are completely dry, then it's time to paint the volcano with as much detail, texture, and color as you'd like. Use brown or gray for the rocks, green for vegetation, and red streaks to simulate the lava that will flow from the top. Add little trees or dinosaurs at the bottom of your volcano to replicate a prehistoric scene.
Make the Lava
Measure 1 tablespoon of warm water and pour it into the volcano crater (the top of the bottle or cup). Add three to four drops of dishwashing detergent into the bottle or cup. Add the baking soda and stir with a narrow utensil or stick. Pour the white vinegar into a separate paper cup until it's one-third full, then add a few drops of red food coloring.
Make an Explosion
Quickly pour the vinegar into the volcano crater, step back, and watch the volcano's bubbly and blazing red explosion begin.