Five years ago Harry and I made a large papier-mache egg for Easter; we loved it, but it was designed as a piñata and destroyed almost immediately, so this year I decided to recreate it, on an even larger scale.  Our egg this year cannot imaginably have come from even the strangest, oversized bird; at 1m high, even a dinosaur might quake at the thought of laying this beauty.

I started with a giant balloon; in fact I started with three giant balloons.  Explosion is an occupational hazard of the giant-egg-making game; often late at night, or just when the final wet piece of gluey paper is being applied.  Statistically, balloons pop at the messiest, latest stage possible, ensuring that defeat is snatched from the jaws of victory.  So, this is an endeavour requiring patience and good cleaning products.

I covered the balloon with a layer of paper dipped in watered-down white glue, and then used these magical plaster bandages to add a second and third layer.  Similar to those used to set broken arms and legs, these dry almost instantly and become rock hard.  Leave to dry overnight (hold your breath; pray) – and then in the morning you’l have this beauty in all its solid splendour…

I then painted the egg with pale blue acrylic paint, and flicked it liberally with dark brown paint to create dappled egg markings (this is indeed quite possible the messiest project you could ever do).

With the egg complete, I turned my attention to nest-building. I found a large grapevine wreath at my local garden centre (a whopping wreath in fact; 1m wide), and added faux and real branches and vines to weave around it…

It now rests decoratively in the hall, although we’ve found a fun way of stringing it above our outdoor dining table for a festive, sunshiny Easter lunch.  Just avoid high winds..

Materials and tips:

  • I used giant balloons, but you can do this on a much more manageable scale and use ordinary sized ones!  My tip would be to by bigger than you need and avoid over-inflating; the thicker the walls are, the more likely they are to hold the weight of the drying paper-mache
  • For the best, smoothest result, use several layers of newspaper adhered with ordinary white glue (dilute it slightly with water).  Plaster bandages are much thicker so you’ll need fewer layers and be able to work quicker, and/but they will give a more textured finish.
  • Acrylic paint will bond well and also has some flexibility, meaning cracking is less likely than with household or poster paint
  • Once you’ve made your giant egg, you can also turn it into a piñata by cutting a hole and filling it with sweets and candy.  Just reconcile yourself to the idea of it being destroyed in a heartbeat by sugar-crazed children!

Have a wonderful week, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.