Camp Doll Diaries

Anna here!  Saige is inspiring today’s art project!  This little hot air balloon is made from paper mache.  Paper mache is a technique of glueing layers of newspaper to a surface (like a balloon).  When the layers dry, it hardens. Whether this is your first time using paper mache or you have done it many times, this doll sized hot air balloon is an easy project!

Camp Doll Diaries - Paper Mache Hot Air Balloon

It will make a fun decoration for your doll space!  Hang it in the art studio, put it on a party table, or use it as a room decoration like I did!

Let’s take a look at what we’ll need.


  • newspaper
  • paper mache paste (Made with flour and water or glue and water.  See below for more details)
  • masking tape
  • glue stick
  • foam paint brush
  • thin paint brush
  • toothpicks
  • water balloon
  • scissors
  • scrapbook paper
  • paint
  • toilet paper tube or other thin cardboard
  • glue, glue dot or double sided tape
  • thread

Let’s get started!

The Hot Air Balloon

Blow up the water balloon and set it aside.

Cut 2 strips of cardboard from a toilet paper tube or thin cardboard.  The TP tube makes this step a little easier because it is already curved.  Cut one strip 3/8″ X 2 1/4″ and one strip 1 1/4″ X 3 3/4″.  Tape the 2 ends together to make the strips into loops.  The small loop is for sculpting our hot air balloon.  You can set the larger loop aside.  It is going to be the hot air balloon basket.  We will be getting to the basket in a minute!

Start with the small loop and a strip of masking tape.

Wrap the tape around the loop.  Half of the tape will be on the cardboard and  half will be off.

Cut slits in the tape all the way around.

Spread out the tape tabs and stick them to the balloon.  Position the loop over the balloon tie.

Tear a piece of newspaper into a strip and crumple it.

Wrap it around the cardboard loop we just attached to the balloon.  As you wrap, hold it in place with a piece of masking tape.

The masking tape helps transition the cardboard loop to the balloon.  Now when we paper mache over it, it will have a shape more like a hot air balloon!

Now we are ready to paper mache.  Tear newspaper into 1/2″ strips.  You will need a pile of them!

Make paper mache paste.  You can use a combination of white glue and water or flour and water.  I have 3 paste recipes below,  to choose from.

  • Watered down glue- Make a mixture of half white glue(like Elmer’s) and half water.  An example would be 1/4 cup glue and 1/4 cup water.
  • No cook flour and water mixture – The recipe is here.
  • Cooked flour and water mixture- The recipe is here

I’ve made the first 2 types many times.  I read that the cooked flour and water paste dries really smooth, so I wanted to give it a try this time.  It is picture below.   I actually really liked it.  It wasn’t very hard to make.  I personally found it easier to use than the other paste I’ve made in the past.  It’s up to you, though!  I’ve used all 3 types of paste and they all work!

Since we are working with something relatively small, hold it in one hand and work with the other hand.

  1. Spread on a layer of paste with the foam paintbrush.
  2. Place a strip of newspaper in the paste.
  3. Spread a layer of paste on top of the newspaper strip.
  4. Rotate the balloon a little.
  5. Repeat 1-4

Once you have covered the balloon in one layer, set it aside to dry.  Prop it in a cup or set it on an upright craft stick (stuck into something).  I like to then set mine in front of a fan to  speed up the drying process.

When a layer is dry it is time to follow the steps above and add another layer.  I would use at least 3 layers.

When the paper mache is completely dry it is time to paint!  Sketch a design you want to paint on the balloon or free hand it!  I used craft paints.

The Basket

Now it’s time to get the larger cardboard loop we set aside earlier.  Cut 1/2″ slits in it .

Fold the tabs inward.  They should all overlap.

Trace the top on another piece of thin cardboard.

Cut out the circle.

Glue the circle onto the folded tabs.  This is going to be the bottom of the basket.

Turn it right side up and push the tabs into the glue.  Hold it until the glue sets.

Let’s attach the basket to the balloon!

I wanted to show you how the rim edge of the hot air balloon is thick because we used layers of paper mache.

Take 2 toothpicks and carefully push them into the rim of the hot air balloon.  Mine slipped in right between the cardboard loop and the layers of paper mache.

Now glue the other end of the tooth picks to the outside of the cardboard basket we created.  Wrap a piece of scrapbook paper around the outside of the basket.  I glued the paper in place with a glue stick.

Now check the position of the tooth picks, so both sides will be even.  Pull the tooth picks out of the rim of the hot air balloon.  Add a little glue to the end of the toothpicks and re-stick them into the rim holes.

Since we used toothpicks the hot air balloon can stand on it’s own.  If it tips over too easily, add a little double sided tape or a glue dot to the bottom.

Or you can always hang it!  Cut a length of thread.   Put a glue dot (or real glue) on the end of the thread and stick it to the top of the balloon.

Try your hand at paper mache and make a colorful hot air balloon to decorate your doll space!

Just in case you are interested here is a little more about today’s post.

  • Doll– Saige AG DOTY 2013
  • Outfit– Saige’s meet outfit and accessories
  • Scene-Dresser information is here.  Lamp is a book light from the dollar store.  Pencil tutorial is here.  Bed and bedding was crafted and thrifted by Anna
Get artsy, try something new, get your fingers sticky and make something beautiful!