Introduction: Paper Mache Fruits (apple and Mandarin)

In this instructables (which is also my first ever) I want to show how I made faux fruits. As a main example I used an apple, but I also made a mandarine alongside the apple, which I haven't documented though.

Disclaimer: I know that ArgentAnimations also created a nearly identical project for this contest. I can assure you though that we two worked completely separately. She published her project while I was halfway done with mine. As ArgentAnimation's project uses different methods, you really should check it out too!

Step 1: Materials

These are all the materials you need for this project:

  • An Apple to use as a model and also to eat later
  • Toilet Paper (I used a bit less than one roll for both of the fruits). You can also use other kinds of paper like newspaper but you will then have to give it a white coat at first so you don't see the print
  • Wallpaper glue (Methyl cellulose). Where I live this is widely spread and known as "Tapetenkleister", although I have difficulties finding it in English Amazon. There are other kinds of paper mache masses which use different kinds of glue, there are many recipes online to try
  • Water
  • Cardboard
  • Wooden sticks
  • Acrylic paint (I only used red, green, yellow and brown, depending on the fruit you want to make you will need different colors)
  • Wax varnish (optional, but lets the apple shine at the end)

Step 2: Making a Cardboard Model

The first step in creating a paper mache apple will be to make a simple cardboard model. This will aid the process of forming the apple later.

I first trace the side of the apple (roughly) and cut it out. I then trace the cutout again to make a copy. Next I cut out a circle the same radius as the apple (at it's thickest point) and cut it in half. You can either use a compass or something circular to trace the outline.

Now you have to make a few cuts so you can connect the pieces to a 3d Model. I seem to have lost some pictures of it though but I will try to explain. For one the side pieces you have to make the cuts like in the picture, the other one will just have one cut going from the top to the middle. You should already be able to put the side pieces together.

The circle halves you need to cut halfway through from the inside.

Now you just have to assemble the model and will ideally have something that resembles the shape of an apple already.

Step 3: Making the Paper Mache Mass

Now comes the main part - the actual mass of the apple. To make this mass you have to get a large bowl and rip a lot of toilet paper into it. The smaller the pieces, the smoother the mass will be at the end. You will need quite a lot of toilet paper and the amount shown in the photo isn't nearly enough.

Then pour a bit of water into the bowl and start - the best word would probably be kneading - the paper and water together. Also try ripping the paper into smaller pieces while you do this. You don't want any larger lumps that stick together by anything but water.

You don't need to add everything at once though, just slowly add more and more toilet paper and water during the process until you think it's enough to fill out a whole apple.

Once that's done you need to add the glue. Just add a small handful of the powder into the mix and start kneading again. You will soon have a mass like in the picture. Also note that the quantities don't need to be very exact, and you can always change it later.

During the process I noticed that I didn't make enough of the mass, so I just made a bit more. There's no problem with that as the mass is quick and easy to make and dries very slowly.

Step 4: Forming the Apple

To make the initial shape just press the paper mache mass into the corners. Slowly add more until you cover the edges. During the process the cardboard will weaken and get soft. That's no problem as it was only a model to aid this step. Try to cover the cardboard with a thin layer of paper mache so you can only see the cardboard a little or not at all.

Next I put the apple up on a wooden stick. This will make working with it easier and is also important for the drying process as you will soon see.

To smooth the edges and bumps try to wet your fingers and go over the apple shape (you can use quite a bit of water for this).

When you think the shape is good place it over the bowl and let it dry. This will take between 2 to 3 days. I would recommend letting it dry rather longer than shorter as it has to dry in the inside as well.

Step 5: Making the Stem

Making a stem was actually a harder challenge than I thought. I tried a few different things (rolling up masking tape, bending a wooden stick, making it out of paper mache), but they all failed. This is the one that worked out for me:

Take a little piece of thin paper (I used some of a white paper bag from a bakery) and roll it up. Now go to a faucet and roll it between your fingers while in the water stream. After a short while it should stick by itself. Bend it a little and then just leave it to dry. I placed it on top of a radiator and it took about half an hour to dry.

Step 6: Painting the Apple - Base Coat

I first gave the apple a light green base coat. I mixed a bit of yellow and green paint to achieve this color, but I think a bit more yellow would have probably been even better. Unfortunately I can't find the image of it. Make sure to cover every bit of the apple and then leave the whole thing to dry on aluminium foil.

Step 7: Painting the Apple - Main Coat

Now it's time to add the main coat. I used a combination of colors to try and match the model apple as close as possible. I first painted the underside red and did a few strokes upwards. Then I covered the rest in the yellow/green paint. Now you have to carefully mix the colors where they meet. Finally add a few little brown spots to make the apple look more realistic. It's important to do this while the paint isn't dry, so the colors mix well.

Again, leave it to dry on some aluminium foil (or any other foil that doesn't stick).

Step 8: Painting the Apple - Stem

It seems I have forgotten to take a photo of the painted stem, but there isn't anything spectacular about it anyways. Just cut it to a length a bit longer than a real one and paint it brown. Leave it to dry but make sure it doesn't touch much surface while it's drying, because it will leave white spots on the stem.

Step 9: Adding a Wax Varnish to the Apple

To make the apple shiny, I used a wax based varnish I had still lying around and painted the apple with a thin layer of it, and again, let it dry.

Step 10: Putting the Stem Into the Apple

The last and final step is to put the stem into the apple. To do this I poked a hole into the top with a toothpick and inserted the stem. That's all there is.

Step 11: Final Result

Your apple is now finished. I took the photos alongside the real apple and they really look quite similar. I've also included photos of a little mandarin I made with some leftover paper mache I had.

I think this is quite an easy project to do, and everybody can do it at home as it doesn't need a lot of materials (they're all pretty much household items, except maybe the acrylic paint). I had a lot of fun making it.

If you have any questions or advice on how to improve this - I will appreciate the feedback, especially as this is my first instructable.

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