Friday, January 29, 2010

Junk Mail to Mail Box Papier Mache Valentine Fun!

Paper and scissors and glue oh my! Paper and scissors and glue oh my! Paper and scissors and glue oh my!

Valentine Papier Mache Mailbox

Whew, almost got carried away there! Truth is, this project nearly carried me away. I have spent all week on it on and off from conception, to mock up to execution to re-execution. And through it all, I took photos so you could learn from my mistakes! :) Well, actually I didn't make too many mistakes, but I did absolutely detest the paint job. But, that is another post for another time. (Later today thanks to my internet connection going down over the weekend) Right now we are just going to play with glue and torn junk mail and a wee bit o' the corrugated cardboard.

At first I wasn't sure if I should make it a photo tutorial, seeing how I was call on skills from what, like third grade? But I thought hey, instead of leaving ya'll to look up paste recipes and what not, I would just share with you what I learned with some photos. Plus, if you already know how to do this you can just skip this post, or go straight to my flickr photoset detailing the process.
Because of the simple nature of the process and the amount of photos, I will try to condense them so you can browse without spraining your scrolling finger. I just nice like that ya know.

First off, you need a good papier mache paste mix. I made the one from Amanda Blake Soule's Handmade Home. While it cools, you can cut the cardboard and shape your mailbox.

I didn't supply you with a pattern this time because it really is to your tastes. You could make a bunch of little tiny ones or a giant family one etc. This one finished at almost 5" wide, 8.5" deep and 7.5" tall. HINT: I used a cd to start with. The arch from it decided the proportions for the rest of my mailbox.


Papier mache paste (If you are making your own this is a good time to make it, so that it can cool down while you prepare your other materials.)
Corrugated cardboard
Paper ripped into strips and chunks (I read that newspaper is good for this but I had none so I just ripped up a bunch of security envelopes and junk mail I had in the recycling box)
Coloured paper (So you needn't prime and paint the inside)
Foam or paint brushes (I really like the foam brushes for this sort of thing)
Utility knife (scissors work too but a utility knife/box cutter works really well)

Construction Instructions

We are going to layout our mailbox pattern and cut it out. I found it was easiest to cut it with the back piece attached. It is a pretty straight forward design. Cut out the door flap (to be exactly the same as the back) separately.

score lines
Score the cardboard where indicated in the picture. Here is a larger version in case the writing is too small.

Steps Collage 1 for Valentine Mailbox
Fold at score lines and tape in place. Use lots of tape if you need to. I used low tack painters tape so I needed to.
Now, curl the arch into itself so that the lines in the cardboard have now been bent. This will help you shape your arch as you tape it to the back piece. Continue in this fashion until you have yourself a mailbox! Tape as much as you think you need to because you will be going over it with glue and paper soon anyways.

Steps Collage 2 for Valentine Mailbox
Now, in all honesty I have not done this, probably since grade three? Grade four tops. But, somehow it stuck with me. Pretty hard to forget how to glue shredded paper to more shredded paper. Anyhoo! In Amanda Blake Soule’s book Handmade Home she says she likes to put the paste to the paper and then to the bowl. I say that is asking for way more patience than I myself have. Slather it on I say! If you do this in small sections you can stick the paper to the box and just slather more paste on top. Do this for approximately four layers. Give or take a layer. I used thicker paper so I probably could have gotten away with as little as two layers, but it was fun I tell you! F-U-N! To avoid painting the inside I used coloured scrapbook paper so that it would appear to be finished. It was pink, and it worked. You could also do this to the outside too and not have to paint it. In hindsight, I probably should have but I love the results from the slipcover (next post).

Steps Collage 3 for Valentine Mailbox
Continue doing this to the mailbox door and flippy thingy. (Although, I made a different one in the next set of instructions.)

Steps Collage41 for Valentine Mailbox

Let dry. I set mine in front of a fan on low and it was ready to prime within a couple of hours. Depending on how gloopy your layers and if you use a fan, you might have to wait a day or even two. But once dry you can prime it. I think I did two coats. Maybe even three because again, it was fun! The next day, I taped off some stripes and painted. Then I came back and painted it again. Then I came back and painted more. I hated it all though. Like Men on Films hated it. But you can probably paint way better than I can. *glares* So, instead I made a slip cover and decorated it with fabric and buttons.

In short, if you love your painted mailbox, you are nearly done. You just have to attach the door and the flippy thingy. If I hadn’t did what I did in the next post, my plan was to paint the flippy thingy and attach it using hot glue. (I wanted to make it movable but some of my craft supplies are still in storage.) For the door I was going to Modge Podge a piece of fabric to both the door and floor of the inside mailbox to act like a fabric hinge.

Click on the pictures of the finished (really finished) product to take you to part two of the tutorial. It was fun and this time turned out even better than in my head.Here is a link to the photoset with finished product and detail shots at flickr.
Slip cover embellishmentsSlip cover embellishments