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Trim Your Home With Colorful Fruit and Fungi Fashioned From Papier-Mâché

by BUST Magazine

You don’t need holiday magic to turn your paper recycling—cardboard, newspaper, and brown packing paper—into bright, happy ornaments. Just some paint and a few household supplies. These fruit and fungi are a feast for the eyes, but once you get the hang of papier-mâché (essentially using tape, glue, and water to create long-lasting paper sculptures), you can customize any ornament you want, taking “reduce and reuse” to a whole new level.

What You’ll Need

  • Stiff cardboard
  • Pen
  • Scissors
  • Newspaper
  • Masking tape
  • Lids or bowls for tracing circles: 3″ lid for citrus (parmesan or mayo lids work well) 5″ to 6″ bowl for watermelon (cereal bowls work well)
  • Toilet paper roll and plastic egg (for mushrooms)
  • Twine or string
  • Brown packing paper or brown paper bag
  • White school glue
  • Bowl of water
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paintbrushes
  • Acrylic matte medium (optional)


Citrus and Watermelon Ornaments

1. Trace circle lid (for citrus) or bowl (for watermelon) onto stiff cardboard with a pen and cut out. Then sketch a line through the center of the circle and cut it in half with scissors.

2.Tape the pieces back together with masking tape so they are flexible and bend at the seam. To make the outer peel, cut a strip of cardboard about 5″ x 1″ for citrus ornaments or 9″ x 1½” for the watermelon, coming to a pointed tip at each end. Fold the cardboard circle so that it’s shaped like a taco and stuff the fruit with ½ sheet of newspaper for citrus or 1 full sheet for watermelon. [A]

IMG 2572 423b1[A]

With masking tape, secure the outer skin along the fruit’s opening so the edges are flush with the fruit. 

3.Using twine or string, make a 2½” loop with a knot, leaving 2″ tails at the end. [B]

IMG 2573 901f5[B]

Tape the tails to your fruit with masking tape so that your loop hangs over one end of the wedge. Make sure the loop is secure and will not pull out. [C]

IMG 2574 50eb4[C]

4. Cut a handful of 1½” x 4″ strips of brown paper (4 to 5 for each citrus ornament, 8 to 9 for watermelon ornament) and soak in a bowl of hot water for 5 minutes. Squeeze out the water so the strips are moist and pliable. [D]

IMG 2596 4d191[D]

5. Thoroughly glue the back of a damp brown paper strip using a sponge brush, paint brush, or your fingers, and apply to your piece. Repeat this process until completely covered.  [E]

IMG 2597 e341a[E]

6. Let your piece air dry overnight or bake in the oven on foil at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes.

7. Coat with white acrylic paint and let dry for 30 minutes. Paint your piece with acrylic colors and details and let dry. [E]

8. (Optional) Paint a thin coat of acrylic matte medium onto your piece for added protection.

Banana Ornament

1. Crunch several sheets of newspaper, wadding it tightly with your hands to form a banana shape about 5″ long and 1½” wide and tape securely all over with masking tape. [F]

IMG 2578 0ffca[F]

2. Repeat instructions from 3 through 8.

Mushroom Ornaments

Cut one side of a toilet paper roll lengthwise with scissors and then cut in half widthwise to make 2 pieces. [G]

IMG 2584 0d333[G]

Roll each piece to make a mushroom stem about ¾” in diameter and secure with masking tape. (For taller mushrooms, do not cut the roll in half). Stuff a bit of newspaper into the hollow stem and tape to close off the bottom.

2. Separate a plastic egg and place the toilet paper roll stem inside one of the pieces. Stuff newspaper around the stem inside of hollow egg and tape with masking tape to secure. [H]

IMG 2588 6866f[H]

Repeat instructions from 3 through 8. 

By Kim Baise 
Photographed by Meiko Takechi Arquillos

This article originally appeared in the Winter 2021 print edition of BUST Magazine.
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Founded in 1993, BUST is the inclusive feminist lifestyle trailblazer offering a unique mix of humor, female-focused entertainment, uncensored personal stories, and candid reporting that tells the truth about women’s lives.

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