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Paper Mache Tutorial on Nirvana Staff

Nirvana with Yuna Materials:
  1. Poster board or cardboard
  2. Xacto knife
  3. Scotch tape
  4. Painter's tape (for paint purposes)
  5. Glue
  6. Jewels (Dollar Tree)
  7. Craft foam 2mm
  8. Paper mache: newspaper, flour and water (1:2 ratio)
  9. Wooden stick
  10. Acrylic paint and brushes
  11. Spray paint
  12. Gesso
  13. Sandpaper
  14. Mod podge
  15. Floor wax (Amazon)

I imported the staff head into Sketchup and traced it, then enlarged it to its actual size, and saved it as a PDF. You can download my Nirvana blueprint PDF, print it out, and tape the pieces together.

Download: Nirvana blueprint .pdf (skp file)

blueprint

Next, I cut out the blueprint, traced it onto poster board (cardboard is ok too), then cut it out with an xacto knife. Do this twice for both sides of the staff. Ideally you should cut it out a little smaller than it should be, since paper mache will bulk it up, but I forgot to in this step. Then I cut out some small strips of cardboard and rolled that into a circle, and glued it onto the poster board as support. I also glued some sticks on as support. I used wood glue, but any glue will work.

support

I cut out more strips of cardboard and glued them onto my support.

support

I cut out the other side of the staff and glued that onto my support. I cut toothpicks up and glued them on as support for the smaller protrusions.

support

Now we must cover the entire prop with scotch tape. The scotch tape acts as a base for the paper mache, and it waterproofs the prop. Put the tape on vertically on the sides. You may have to cut the tape into smaller pieces or cut slits in it for a good fit.

tape

Cover the entire prop, and criss-cross whenever possible.

tape
Paper Mache:

Now we can make the paper mache mix. Mix 1 cup flour, 2 cups of warm water, and a dab of salt together. The salt prevents molding. Get some newspaper and tear that up into big strips and small strips. Put the newspaper strips into the mix and put it onto the prop. Make sure the strips are on the prop and not sticking out. If it's sticking out, rewet it. You want to add 1 layer at a time. Too much and the inside layers may develop mold. Add 3-5 layers (I added 5).

paper mache

Use your xacto knife to carve out the feather indentions. You can carve out your outer layers of paper mache. My innermost layer was chinese newspaper, so it was easy for me to see how far I got. Be very careful that you do not carve onto your scotch tape layer.

paper mache
paper mache
This is what it looks like so far!
paper mache

Get your big jewels (x4) and small jewels (x4). They're all supposed to be green, but I couldn't find any small green ones, so I repainted mine with $1 nail polish that I got from Dollar General.

nail polish

The small round jewels have 2 layers of nail polish, while the bigger ones have 5 layers. Make sure you add enough layers!

nail polish

Use the blueprint to help you trace these parts onto 2-3mm craft foam. Then glue them onto the staff head. I went ahead and glued the jewels on too. I suggest not adding the jewels until later though.

craft foam

Here's a closeup

craft foam

Paint the prop with 1-3 layers of gesso. This will act as a primer.

gesso

As you can tell, the gesso got all over the jewels, so those will have to be repainted later.

gesso

Staff reference:
Nirvana

I painted yellow acrylic paint over the staff, but I left the top alone since that part is mostly orange anyway. I also left the 4-circle part alone, since that's supposed to be blue.

yellow paint

Make sure you cover the sides of the craft foam too.

yellow

Add some orange paint to the sides of the wings and the top, and try to get it to fade into the yellow.

paint

You may need to re-add the yellow to the orange to get a nice gradient. The reason I used acrylic instead of spray paint is so I could get a nice gradient.

paint

Add some brown to the sides so you can provide shading and depth. Mix it in with the yellow. You may need to re-add yellow too.

brown

I re-added the yellow and orange to the wing.

red

Then I blended everything together.

red

I added red onto the edges and the feather slits. Then I painted the 4-circle thing light blue (blue+white paint), and I repainted the jewels.

paint

For the staff portion, I found an old mop around the house and cut off the top. (You can buy a PVC pipe instead.) I spray painted the top portion light blue, and then I put painter's tape around the top in X's. I painted the bottom portions yellow (see pic) and covered them with painter's tape. Then spray painted the entire staff dark blue.

staff paint

I brushed 3 layers of mod podge onto the staff to seal it. I also suggest adding floor wax so that the staff isn't sticky (mod podge is sticky). I then glued this onto the staff (not the best way, but I wasn't able to make it detachable as planned).

Nirvana

I bought a red tassel from Joann's for the red ribbon portion.

tassel

For the long beads, I cut straws into pieces, wrapped it with scotch tape, then paper mached and painted it. You can watch my video tutorial for it if you're interested.

tassel

For the bottom part of the staff, I used yellow clay to shape the circular parts, and then glued it onto the staff. The bottom of the mop already had a metal loop, so I just hanged the beads onto that.

bottom

The staff sure does look nice, doesn't it?

Nirvana with Yuna
Here's a shot of the entire staff.
Nirvana with Yuna

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