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As we approached the finish line preparing for the Canberra Handmade Market on 7 and 8 September we turned our minds toward our stall set up.  We are generally happy with our display having bought some great backboards and A-frames last year but thought we would like to “zhush” it up a bit.  Having been working on a new design to replace our popular bee stamp and having just come into Spring we thought a bee/garden theme might be the way to go.  Surely it couldn’t take too long to pull together???

Ellen has had some experience with paper clay and paper mâché so set about collecting the necessary materials from our extensive craft stash. Yes, we admit it – we’re craft material addicts!  Tissue paper, PVA glue, brushes, balloons, gyprock cement, paint and so on.

Paper Mache Craft NeedsThe method we used was not the traditional paper mâché method but a bit of a quicker method we only had a few days to make the bees and flowers. We pasted strips of tissue paper over balloons using PVA glue. The PVA dries quite quickly and makes the tissue paper harden. Ideally we should have done around 8 layers of paper but could only manage 4 as the days counted down. At this point we painted the balloons with a slurry mixture of PVA and gyprock cement to create an outer shell.  We did this 3 times by which point the balloon shapes felt quite firm and looked like blank faces staring at us.  Our husbands thought we were crazy….. maybe they have a point….  We thought 7 or 8 bees would have been great – luckily we settled for 5 as it was quite a process as we started to wonder if we would complete the task we set for ourselves.

Paper Mache Bees in Progress Paper Mache Bees Ready to PaintAs we weren’t planning on keeping the bees indefinitely we left the balloons in to keep the shapes firmer.  After completing the bee body shells we painted them with acrylic paint and gave them a final coat of gloss Modge Podge.  We didn’t aim to have perfectly smooth surfaces but wanted a textured look.  Wings were made from crepe paper and the eyes
from adhesive craft foam.

Our biggest challenge was working out how to attach the bees to our display boards and A-frames without damaging the bees.  Although we weren’t completely happy with our engineering solutions the bees remained in place and looked pretty cute. To go with the bees we made some crepe paper daisies.  They were straightforward compared to the bees.  To keep them looking “perky” we sprayed the with a bit of hair spray.

We had many lovely discussions with children at the Canberra Handmade Market about the bees and how we made them.  The bees withstood quite a bashing one way or another but held up well.  One gorgeous five year-old told us we were “quite creative” – high praise indeed.

As always we had a great time at the Canberra Handmade Market and thank you to every one who visited Bandicute.

Now having set the bar higher – where do we go from here with our stall set up?  Eeek!

Bandicute Paper Mache Bees Bandicute Bee Bib with Market Stall

Clue: Sneak peak of new bee fabric.  Shhhhh.

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