Paper Mache Ideas

Paper Mache Ideas swirl in my head and guess what? This fire hydrant, dog treat cupboard, appeared. Okay, maybe it didn't just appear. It actually roamed around in my head for quite some time, before it took shape. Finally, here it is! Not just something taking up space. Isn't it great when you can actually make something useful?


Age: Adult

Difficulty: Hard

Time Scale: 5+


  • newspaper strips
  • paper mache paste (white flour, white glue, salt and water)
  • plastic container
  • scissors
  • masking tape
  • 6 inch cardboard sonotube
  • 3 small plastic rice pudding containers
  • 3 large cereal boxes
  • large piece of heavy cardboard
  • balloon
  • ruler
  • pencil
  • exacto knife
  • sharp knife
  • hot glue gun/ glue sticks
  • E 6000 craft glue
  • 8 small round extra strong magnets
  • paint brush
  • sandpaper fine and medium grit
  • Primer paint
  • Rag or paper towel.
  • Water based paint on sealer
  • Craft Paint:


         Gunmetal grey


Are you up for a challenge? Is it worth it? Most definitely! This is one of my favorite paper mache ideas. I think it will be yours too!

Paper Mache Ideas 
How to Make a Fire Hydrant

I originally wanted to get on with the paper mache part of this project. This resulted in the order of things getting all messed up and issues arising. Plunking a balloon in the top of the sonotube and getting at the goopy part, was just all wrong!

Lots of paper mache ideas, tend to need some tweaking, before they turn out just right. First the prep work. Aren't you glad I am here to get all the glitches worked out, ahead of time and tell you the right way to do things?

Use a sharp knife to cut a 6 inch wide sonotube 20 inches long.

Sand the inside of the tube with medium grit sandpaper to rough it up. This is important! There is a coating on the inside and the paper mache strips won't stick to this well, if it isn't sanded. Glitch number one avoided!

Cut two openings in the front. One 3.5 inches down from the top that is 6 inches wide and 4 inches long.

The next one should be 3 inches down from this one. Make it the same width, but 5 inches long. Set cut out pieces aside for later. These will be for the doors. Don't lose them in the cardboard chaos that is about to take place! Although you would never know it, if I didn't tell you, glitch number two has now been avoided. (No such luck for me.) I originally cut one long opening, only to discover that wasn't going to work out.


Cut out 6 circles that are 8.5 inches across, from heavy cardboard.

Set the sonotube in the middle of the cardboard circle and trace around it. Cut out the center on all but one of the circles. Save these 6 inch center pieces for later.

Put the sonotube in the center of the cut out circle and slide it 2 inches up from the bottom.

Hot glue the solid circle, centered on to the very bottom of the sonotube.


Now work from the top, down. Add a circle of cardboard, so it sits between the two doors. Put another one up 1.25 inches from this one.

Add two more circles, one on the very top and another one spaced 1.25 inches down. Use the hot glue gun to glue all of these pieces in place.


Cut out strips from cereal box board 1.25 inches wide and the length of the cereal box. Glue these around the outer edge of the heavy cardboard circles. Overlap the ends slightly. Cut off the excess length. Glue together. Glitch number three avoided. Once again, you now don't have to figure out how to tweak this. I did it for you. Do I sound like I expect a pat on the back? Oh, never mind. I'm sure you would be happy to give me one. Maybe you have your own paper mache ideas? Perhaps after you start the paper mache process you could give me a nice sloppy, gooey one?


Cut strips of heavy cardboard 1 inch wide and 14 inches long. Glue to the inside of the sonotube, centered between the two doors.

Glue together two of the 6 inch cardboard circles that were cut from the center of the larger circles. Oh, this had me pawing through my pile of cardboard, searching for those pieces that were set aside.

Set this doubled up circle, so it is sitting on top of the 1 inch strip inside the sonotube. Glue in place. This cardboard piece is to provide extra support for the shelf.


Now, it is FINALLY time to blow up a balloon! Set the balloon partway down into the top of the sonotube. It should make a nice rounded top that fits snug and stays in place. Don't blow the balloon up and leave it on the deck in the hot sun. When you come back later the balloon will be in pieces all over the deck. Was this one of my greater paper mache ideas? Probably not. Did I do this? Yes, I did. Are you going to do that? No, you won't.

Tear up your strips of newspaper and mix up the paper mache paste.

Apply 3 layers to the balloon, the cardboard pieces and the outside of the sonotube. Wrap the edges of the cut openings but with only two layers.

Locate the door pieces that were cut out earlier. Did you find them? Sand the edges. Check to see if they will fit in the openings, with a little wiggle room. Cover the doors with three layers of newspaper strips, once again overlapping edges with only two layers. Hopefully you left enough wiggle room so that now, with the extra layers on the edges, the doors will still fit nicely in the openings.

Sanding after the paper mache is on and dried is only going to remove what you put on there. You don't want to do that! Sand away enough cardboard to make room for the extra thickness of the newspaper strips. Hopefully, I'm not getting too wordy again, trying to explain this. Why add the newspaper strips to the edges at all when the sonotube is so thick anyways? It will make a nicer finished edge.

Add newspaper strips to the inside of the sonotube. Pay close attention to the shelf. Place half the length of the strip of newspaper on the shelf and run it up the wall of the tube. Do the same on the underside. Do three layers. While this is drying there is more form building to do.


Cut a strip 1 inch wide and 12 inches long from cereal box board. Overlap 2 inches and hot glue together. Trace around this and cut out two circles. Glue one to the top and one to the bottom, of the strip.

Now, do another one the same way, but this time cut one 8.5 inches long, overlap ends by 2 inches. Add top and bottom circles. Attach the smaller circle to the larger one.


Make nuts by cutting out a 1/2 wide strip of cereal box board. Draw on 7 lines, 3/4 of an inch apart. Fold into a hexagon shape, overlapping and gluing ends together. Trace shape onto cereal box board, cut out and glue to top and bottom. Make four of these.

Now make another one the same way, but this one with the lines only 1/2 an inch apart. Glue this one to the center of the bottom door.


Glue the small circle on top of the bigger circle and then the nut on top of that. 

Attach this to the front center of the top door.


Cut strips of cereal box board 3/4 of an inch wide by 9 inches long. Glue into the inside edge of a rice pudding container. Do two of these.


Cut a 1/2 inch off the bottom edge of a small rice pudding container. Glue a cardboard nut to the top of each of these.

Growing weary? Don't despair. Stick with me.. we're almost there. Well, not really, but we are moving right along. Aren't we? Soon this will begin to take shape.

When the newspaper strips have dried, hot glue the rice pudding container with the trimmed off bottom edge, to the top dome shape on the fire hydrant.


Glue the other two, one on each side approximately 3.5 inches down from the top ring. Leave at least an inch between these and the center ring that goes between the two doors. Use masking tape to fill in the gaps, on the sides.

Paper mache two layers over all the pieces that you have added to the sonotube. Add a couple extra layers where the side pieces attach. Let dry.


Make a door stop that runs around the inside edge of both doors. Use a 1/2 inch strip of heavy cardboard, glued to the back side edge of the door opening and overhanging 1/4 inch. Add two layers of newspaper strips to this.


Dip a long strip of newspaper into the goop, twist it, double it over and twist it together. Run it vertically, on the top rounded piece.  Start at the bottom edge of the rice pudding container and stop where the wider edge begins. Add ten strips, spacing equally all the way around. Do not add any more newspaper strips over top, until this has dried completely!

After drying, add two more layers all over. Dry again and check to make sure everything seems well attached.

When dry, give everything a light sanding with fine grit sandpaper. Wipe dust off with a rag. Check for any thin spots before moving on to the painting.


Add two coats of primer. Apply to the inside, outside and bottom.

When the primer has dried, paint with red craft paint.


The top, front and side round valve pieces and nuts should be painted a gunmetal grey. (These are the pieces that were added on. This includes the rice pudding containers and the cardboard pieces on the front of the doors.)


Add 3 coats of paint. Let dry between each coat. Yikes... it is too Red!

Is this starting to look like a fire hydrant? Can you see it? Have these paper mache ideas, actually turned into something?

After drying, add a blackwash. Work in fairly small sections. Paint on watered down black paint, leave on for about a minute. Wipe with a damp rag or paper towel.


Make a small hole, the size of the magnet in the overhang on the door stop, on the center of each side. Use E 6000 craft glue to attach a magnet into each hole. Do this on the sides of both door openings.

Door-that-opens-to-make-cupboard-for-dog-treatsbottom door

Now put a magnet on each of these magnets. Add a dot of glue to the top of these and set the door in place. Leave them dry in place for at least 4 hours. Now, hopefully you didn't over do it with the glue and have the two magnets glue together. Doing it this way, is to get the magnets lined up correctly.

Door-to-openTop door

The doors should now be held in place with the magnets but still open easily. If this sounds like too much trouble, you can use small hinges instead. I didn't want the hinges showing, so I decided not to use them.


Brush on three coats of clear water based sealer, drying after each coat. Don't forget the inside and the back of the doors. It is best to use a water based, low odor, brush on sealer. If this is going to be used to store doggie treats, the spray sealers are way too smelly and may be harmful! Even using a water based sealer, I still recommend leaving the treats in the bags they come in, just to be on the safe side. 


This will store dog treats and still have room for a brush and a leash. It really is one of my favorite paper mache ideas. Art that has a function!

Now it's time to teach your pooch, this is the secret doggie treat holder. It's not the kind of fire hydrant to lift a leg on! Okay, so maybe your dog wouldn't do that… Or would he? This is Kirby. He would NEVER do that!

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