Papier-Mache Easter Egg Baskets

This project channels memories of a fun Easter craft my 5th grade class completed so many years ago: papier-mache Easter egg baskets. I wanted to come up with a cute project to share with my husband as we celebrate Easter this Sunday and I thought of this “too long forgotten” idea. I also made a third one to share with family. Since it has been many years since I made this craft, I found some articles that helped me find a good glue paste ratio and other helpful tips. These lovely articles can be found near the bottom of this post.  As we get closer to Easter, I will make dyed Easter eggs to go in the basket of treats.

Basket Supplies:
  • balloons
  • tissue paper
  • scissors
  • Elmer’s glue (4 ounce bottle)
  • water (4 ounces)
  • foam brush
  • Tupperware bowl with lid
  • newspaper (to protect your work surface)
  • small glass bowl to hold your balloon
  • X-Acto craft knife
  • Easter grass or shredded paper
  • candy
  • small toys
  • die-cut flowers
  • small brads
  • hot glue
Instructions:
  • Cut tissue paper into squares such as 2×2 or 3×3 inches. Since I made three balloons, I cut four sheets of white for the first layer, then two sheets of blue, pink, and purple for the second and third layers.
  • Pour a four-ounce bottle of Elmer’s glue into a Tupperware bowl (with lid). Add a 1/2 cup of water (four ounces) and thoroughly mix to create a 50/50 diluted glue paste.
  • Blow up your balloon to desired size and tie off the end in a knot.
  • Using a foam brush, coat a small section of the balloon with the glue paste.
  • Apply a square of tissue paper and then coat with more glue paste using your foam brush. (For my first layer, I chose to apply a white tissue layer for the entire balloon creating a white liner.)
  • Apply more glue to a small section of the balloon, add another square of tissue paper, overlapping as you go for added strength, and then coat with more glue.
  • Repeat this process until the balloon is covered with the first layer of tissue paper.
  • Hang to dry for at least an hour. (I used binder clips to attach them to a curtain! String or clothes pins will work great too.) While you wait, snap on the lid to your glue paste container to keep it usable for the next two layers.
  • Once the first layer is dry, repeat the tissue paper application process for your second layer. (I used blue, pink, and purple for the second layers of my three balloons).
  • Once again, hang to dry for at least an hour and then repeat the application process for your third layer. (I kept my eggs solid-looking by adding more blue, pink, and purple).
  • Hang to dry overnight.
  • Grabbing the balloon’s knotted end, insert a needle into the knot to slowly deflate the balloon and pull out the balloon remnant. (See tip #6 below for how I ended up doing it).
  • Use scissors and/or an X-Acto craft knife to cut out a basket opening. (I personally don’t trust my hand cutting skills, so I used an egg shape (measuring 4 x 5.75 inches) from the Designer’s Calendar cartridge. I then traced this template onto the papier mache egg with a pencil before cutting out the opening).
  • Using your left over glue paste, apply a couple of layers of tissue paper over the small hole left from the balloon knot.
  • Add decorations to the basket as desired. I chose die-cut flowers with small brads and hot glued them along the opening. I used Cricut’s Mother’s Day Bouquet cartridge for the flowers and leaves.
  • Now for the fun part! Add Easter grass, candy, dyed eggs, and a small toy!
Tips I learned while completing this project:
  • When applying your tissue paper, cover the edges of the knotted balloon area as close as you can. This will leave you with a smaller hole to cover once the balloon and its knot are removed.
  • Using a Tupperware bowl with lid is an excellent idea to keep your paste from firming up too much or drying out while waiting for each layer to dry. I got this idea from Pastiche’s article at Zujava (first link below). She also suggested using a foam brush to apply the glue paste and it worked perfectly!
  • I found it helpful to prop up my balloon using a small glass mixing bowl while I added the tissue paper layers. It also keeps it protected from the newsprint covering your work table.
  • Luckily, the four-ounce bottle of Elmer’s glue was exactly enough to finish three balloons. If you’re doing just one or two balloons, you should have plenty of glue paste left over.
  • It doesn’t matter what color balloon you use to cover with tissue paper since the balloon will be discarded in the end.
  • I found the needle deflation to be too slow, so I used a pair of scissors to cut a small hole. The balloon tended to stick to the paper layer as it deflated and caused some sides to cave in. Not to worry! Once you pull out the balloon, you can blow air into the remaining hole (like you would with a plastic soda bottle) and pop the sides back out!
  • Three layers of tissue paper creates a fragile egg but if treated with care, it should make for a nice Easter treat presentation and can be stored in a box to protect it for future use.
  • Before adding the grass and treats, the fragile empty egg wanted to roll over onto its back. Once I added in my treats, the added weight kept the egg propped up and actually created an indentation in the bottom paper wall. (Updated remark: after Easter passed and the treats were all gone, the indentation left in the bottom of the egg kept it propped up even while empty, so I won’t have to create feet or a base to prop it up for future decor).
  • I read that if you want a truer egg shape, yet a bit smaller, then a water balloon is a good choice. I used regular balloons that could be blown up to a larger size which is a personal preference.
  • The first two links below offer nice alternatives to the egg basket design. They made smaller papier-mache eggs filled with goodies. One has a hinged lid; the other has a string you can pull to open the egg to see the surprises inside. The third link shows a design similar to mine, yet it is a literal Easter basket that can be carried around for egg hunting. It has a corded handle and even feet to prop the egg up! She used newspaper, tissue paper, and paint on the inside of her baskets. The last link is by Martha Stewart designers and shows how you can cut the tops of the eggs with an X-Acto knife for a cracked egg look.

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