How to make a Witches Cauldron with paper mache.
Sitting on glowing embers and overflowing with a green bubbly concoction, it emits an eerie glow. This makes a great prop for Halloween.
Time Scale: 5 out of 5
Go round up that exercise ball that is sitting in the corner of the basement, growing cobwebs. I know, I shouldn't jump to this conclusion. You may be a fitness fanatic and the ball may be used on a daily basis. It may be difficult to give that up, for a few days. Whatever the scenario is, you will still probably need to add more air to it. This is a fairly large witches cauldron, so blow the ball up as big as you can get it. Don't pop it!
Cover the ball with plastic wrap. Use masking tape to hold it in place.
Tear up strips of newspaper so they are 3-4 inches wide. Mix up the paper mâché paste in a dishpan.
Sit the exercise ball on a large bowl, with the air hole down. The bowl is very important. Covering a ball without sitting it on something to stabilize it, will be a nightmare. It will be rolling all over the place.
Cover ¾’s of the ball with 3-4 layers of newspaper strips. Leave a round opening across the top. (which will actually seem like the underside at this point, because it is the part sitting on the bowl.) Don't cover over the air hole.
Try to apply the strips evenly as you go, otherwise it will fall off the bowl. I actually had the ball tip off the bowl, bounce off the table, hitting the chair, then onto the floor, across the dining room and into the living room. I was chasing after it, trying to get it under control, before it slimed the whole house!
Let dry, then flip over.
Cut a large piece of cardboard into a circle with a diameter 8 inches wider across than the diameter of the exercise ball. Cut out the center, making the rim about 4 inches wide. Use glue and tape to attach it around the top opening. Cut slits around the outer edge, so the cardboard will fit. Fill the pieces in with masking tape. There should be a lip about a quarter inch around, on the inside edge, of the opening.
Add 3-4 layers of newspaper strips on the rim. Let dry.
Do 3 more layers of newspaper strips, over the entire witches cauldron. Let it dry. I know I sound like a broken record… Let it dry, let it dry. This happens to be very important. Anyone that thinks paper mâché is not worth doing because it stinks and goes moldy, has not learned the value of properly drying between layers. I have never had a piece mold.
Now that it is dry, check for thin spots by pushing on it. If it pushes in, add more layers and dry again.
Now it's time to let the air out of the ball and carefully remove it.
Cut 3 cardboard paper towel tubes, 4 inches long. These will be for the legs. Cut each end at a slight angle, so they sit flat on the underside of the witches cauldron. Space evenly about 3-4 inches in from the edge. I know, since it is round there isn't technically an edge. You will have to go by what you perceive to be the edge, on the underneath part of the pot. Tape the paper towel tubes in place. Flip the pot over and adjust, so the pot sits firmly on the legs. Hot glue in place.
Paper mache 3-4 layers on the legs and down onto the pot. Let dry and add 3-4 more layers. Make sure the legs are well attached.
Paint the witches cauldron with 2-3 layers of black craft paint.
Cut a cardboard circle that will sit on the inside edge of the rim. Check the fit but don't attach it yet.
Put the clear L.E.D. lights randomly on the cardboard. Tape down with masking tape. Put a hole in the center of the cardboard and put the plug in through, to the underside.
Cover the lights with plastic wrap.
Make a hole in the bottom of the pot. Run an extension cord up
inside and plug it into the lights. Leave
the other end of the extension cord coming out through the bottom of the pot. Set the
cardboard in place on the lip, just inside the rim of the witches cauldron.
Spray with a can of spray foam insulation. This is MESSY! Wear rubber gloves, unless you want to pick this stuff off your hands for the next week. That's always fun... NOT! I've had my fair share of disagreements with this stuff, on other occasions. The times when I thought "Oh, who needs gloves?" It not only was a hair accessory but I did end up spending a week trying to get it off my hands. Notice this time I DID wear gloves. It still ended up in my hair, somehow.
When dry, if the foam is holding everything in place and it isn't loose from the plastic, it can be left. It should be fine if the foam has expanded and is touching the edges, and oozing down the side. If it is loose, remove the plastic wrap and glue the foam back on the cardboard.
Use tin foil to cover the edges of the witches cauldrons, to protect from over spray. Paint the foam insulation with fluorescent green spray paint. When dry, remove the tin foil.
Cut another large piece of cardboard for under the witches cauldron. Make the edges wavy and not in an exact circle. Use a pencil to mark where the legs sit.
Add two strings of orange flickering L.E.D. lights, the same way you did the lights for the top piece. Plug the extension cord that is coming out from the underside of the witches cauldron, into the lights. Wrap with electrical tape. Put small rice pudding containers over some of the lights. Tape down with masking tape. Cover with plastic wrap.
Run the plug in, from the lights, out to the side. Spray with two cans of spray foam insulation. Don't spray where the legs will sit. Let dry.
Lift the insulation carefully and remove plastic. Glue foam down to the cardboard.
Paint the insulation with random spots of black and various shades of grey craft paint. Make different shades of grey by mixing black and grey paint with white. Use only a small amount of black. Do only a very light coat of paint, so the lights will still glow through. It is okay to leave a bit of the foam unpainted.
Set the witches cauldron in place on the cardboard. You may have to trim away a bit of the spray foam. It tends to go where it wants to, when it expands. Hot glue the legs to the cardboard.
Spray ONLY the cauldron, with 3 coats of sealer. Don't get the sealer on any of the unpainted foam surface. It will eat it away.
Plug in the witches cauldron and the bubbly green brew will glow. The orange lights give the coals underneath, the appearance of a real, smoldering fire. I wonder what is cooking in there?
This makes a fun and spooky addition to your Halloween display.
Although not exactly the same, Thanks to Dave Lowe Design for providing the inspiration for this witches cauldron. This is a great site with lots of fun projects.
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