Papier-mache, who knew?

Recently, I found myself caring for four grandchildren (ages 3-13) on the hottest day of the summer. It was close to one hundred degrees and so hot and muggy that even going to the pool, as we usually did every afternoon, seemed impossible, especially considering the fact that the house has central air.

That said, I had to find something to amuse the kids during the long afternoon. The three-year-old went down for a nap, the thirteen year old headed for his room with his cell phone, and that left me with the six-year-old and the ten-year-old. What to do?

I rummaged through my emergency supplies and found a book I had picked up at the library’s second-hand store, it was titled “The Paper Book: Fun Things to Make and Do with Paper,” by Hannah Toft, published in 1990. Flipping through it my eye was caught by some jazzy illustrations of objects made with papier-mache. Just the thing, I thought, remembering dipping long strips of newsprint into a bowl of goo to make hand puppets when I was a kid. But that was old school, I learned, as the book advised using colorful tissue paper and pictures cut from magazines to make all sorts of things.

I decided to have the kids make pencil holders, and as you can see from the photo, they turned out pretty well. This is how we did it:

First I cooked up some glue, using the recipe in the book.

Paste Recipe

  • 1 cup flour
  • 3 cups water

Directions

Mix together in saucepan and heat until it boils, stirring the entire time. Simmer until the mixture thickens and let cool before using.

Once the glue was ready I spread plenty of newsprint on a table and got out some nice big brushes from the paint box.Then we coated a pair of straight-sided glass tumblers with Vaseline and started applying colorful pieces of tissue paper. After we’d applied about eight layers, using plenty of glue, I put them outside on the hot deck to dry. Later in the day we slipped out the glasses, and admired our beautiful pencil holders.

What occurred to me, on that very hot day, was the fact that papier-mache is not only fun for bored children, but a great way to create some lovely Christmas gifts. Pencil holders are just the beginning. It is possible to create unique decorative plates, small trays, and even tree ornaments (use a small balloon as a base) using red and green tissue paper, along with some shiny silver and gold tissue, adding pictures from old calendars and magazines. So if you see me with some rather sticky fingers, well, you’ll know what this Santa has been up to.

 

Fresh-baked cookies, pies, and cakes can warm even the frostiest Christmases in coastal Maine. But there’s little room for holiday cheer when murder is the new seasonal tradition . . .

Yule Log Murder By Leslie Meier

Lucy Stone is thrilled to be cast as an extra in a festive period film—until the set becomes a murder scene decorated in blood and buttercream icing. Returning to her role as sleuth, Lucy dashes to restore peace to Tinker’s Cove, unwrap a cold-hearted criminal’s MO, and reveal how one ornate Yule log cake could possibly cause so much drama.

Death By Yule Log By Lee Hollis

Hayley Powell’s holidays aren’t off to a very merry start. Not only has her daughter brought Conner—an infuriatingly perfect new beau—home to Bar Harbor, but a local troublemaker has been found dead with traces of her signature Yule log cake on his body. As Conner becomes the prime murder suspect, Hayley must put aside her mixed feelings to identify the real killjoy.

Logged On By Barbara Ross

Realizing she can’t make a decent Bûche de Noël to save her life, Julia Snowden enlists the help of her eccentric neighbor, Mrs. St. Onge, in hopes of mastering the dessert for Christmas. With everyone in the old woman’s circle missing or deceased, however, it’s up to Julia to stop the deadly tidings before she’s the next Busman’s Harbor resident to meet a not-so-jolly fate.

Kick back with something sweet and indulge in three bite-sized Yuletide tales too good to resist!

Praise For Egg Nog Murder

“This collection serves as a great introduction to these authors’ series for new readers or as a bite sized delicacy to tide established fans over until the next book.” —Library Journal

“This anthology boasts three terrific tales of Yuletide murder in coastal Maine. Sparkly writing and emotional depth link this trio of holiday cozies.” —Publishers Weekly (Starred Review)