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Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, step right up as we take a stroll down the Midway! Feast your eyes on our selection of blue-ribbon paper-mâché food on a stick! And try your luck at a game of artistry and creative invention, DIY’ing a set of your very own faux foods (can’t you almost see the twinkling lights of the ferris wheel and hear the carousel music…).
With state fair season in full swing, we thought we’d break out the newspaper, craft sticks, and paint to turn a bunch of leftover art supplies into the fair feast of our DREAMS. Here in Minnesota, when it comes to fair food, there’s *nothing* we won’t put on a stick. So with that spirit in mind, we decided to celebrate some classic family favorites and concocted a stick of raspberry-drizzled donut holes, a classic corn dog, a baked potato on a stick (because, why not!). And everyone’s favorite, one ginormous salty and wonderful dill pickle on a stick.
Watch the video to make your paper-mâché food along with us!
This deliciously fun art project is a wonderful chance to explore imaginative uses for familiar supplies and gives young artists an opportunity to experiment with new art processes.
For me, the loveliest part of this project is that any outcome can easily become a huge artistic win with just a smidge of imagination. Case in point: our baked potato was actually our first attempt at a corn dog (!). Creating the paper forms can feel a bit unfamiliar at first, but it’s amazing how ANY shape can transform into some type of food on a stick.
Totally feeling this fair food? Design your own mini food truck as a companion art project, or experiment with other outlandish faux food supplies by making a sensory-filled slime and playdough lumberjack breakfast!
To make your own paper-mâché food-on-a-stick you’ll need:
Note: We prefer to shop locally or use what we have at home, but this list contains a few Woodpeckers Crafts and/or Amazon affiliate links for reference. As Amazon Associates, we make a small commission on qualifying purchases.*
- Newspaper or similar
- Masking tape
- A 3/16-inch x 12-inch wooden dowel rod
- A hot glue gun
- Paint (Tempera or acrylic paints)
- Decorative supplies like yarn, paper scraps, tissue paper, etc.
PAPER-MÂCHÉ PASTE SUPPLIES:
Makes 1 or 2 paper mache pieces
- 1/2 c. flour
- 1/2 c. water
- 1/2 tsp. salt
Note: Paper-mâché can get a little messy (in the best way!) so be sure to smock up and work on a protected surface.
I found that it was also helpful to create a simple cardboard DIY drying/painting stand – just poke a small hole in the middle of an old cardboard shoebox or similar. Your kiddo can pop their paper-mâché food in this to dry, or use it to hold their food-on-a-stick upright while painting.
*For those considering gluten allergies and airborne particles or contact dermatitis, you can also swap out the flour paste recipe for a glue-based mixture instead. I grew up using the glue recipe and it always worked like a charm – the only downside is that it uses quite a bit of glue. Just mix up a 1:1 ratio of water and Elmer’s Glue (or a similar type of “school glue”).
DIY Paper-Mâché Food On A Stick Instructions:
- Crunch a few newspaper pages into balls to soften
This might seem like a strange first step, but I find it helpful to scrunch the newspaper pages used to create our forms up into a tight ball, undo, and repeat a couple of times. This softens the newspaper making it more pliable and easier to form into different types of shapes.
- Create your simple food forms
Once you have the food you’d like to make in mind, mold newspaper around your dowel rod into a simple form. You can slowly build up the layers of newspaper, taping on specific shapes, or balls, using masking tape to hold your forms together.
- Cut newspaper into strips
Cut thin strips of newspaper or similar (old notebook paper or paper lunch bags work too!). Ours were about a 1/2-inch to 1-inch in width and 5 to 6-inches long.
It’s best to have your strips ready to go and basic forms finished before you mix up the paper-mâché paste so the mixture doesn’t dry out while you’re working on the other pieces.
- Mix the paper-mâché paste
In a shallow container (I like to use an old square takeout container or something similar) mix the paste for your paper-mâché.
The simple formula is equal parts flour and water, plus one half tablespoon of salt for every cup of flour help preserve the paste. There ARE other recipes if you’d prefer not to use flour (glue-based is a popular one) but this is my favorite as it doesn’t use too much of any one supply and I always have everything I need for it.
- Wrap your forms in paste-dipped newspaper strips
Drag your newspaper strips through the paste mixture (this is where a shallow container comes in handy). Make sure your strip is coated, then gently squeeze the excess off the strip. Apply to your food form, slowly building up the layers of newspaper.
Note: You may find that it’s easier to have squares of newspaper to cover up some spots – you can tear strips into any shape that’s easiest for you to work with!
- Let dry completely
I’d recommend giving these at least two to three full days (if not more) to dry completely. I had mine sitting outside in the sun for two days and they had dried out after 48 hours, but depending on the humidity and size it may take yours a little longer or a bit shorter.
Once dry, make sure your food is securely attached to the stick. Mine needed a few dots of hot glue to stay in place, and this is the time to secure it to the stick with glue if you need to.
Use acrylic or tempera paint to cover your paper-mâché food forms. This is a fun way to experiment with different painting supplies to create unique textures!
You can use a foam brush to paint flat coats, use different styles of paintbrushes to mix colors right on the food, or use a sponge to add texture (as we did for our corn dog).
- Add decorative details and food flourishes!
Here’s where your paper-mâché food REALLY begins to look good enough to eat! For this particular trio of fair foods, we used a variety of art techniques and supplies to give our food a fun semi-realistic look.
For instance, the corn dog was decorated with a ribbon of “ketchup”. Our baked potato got a scrap of thick white yarn “sour cream” and green construction paper “chive” bits. Our donut holes were decorated with a fun drizzle of pink paint when we cut a tiny slice of the corner off of a plastic baggie and squeezed a dollop of paint through it (just like the real thing).
For the pickle, I tore thin strips of green tissue paper and affixed them to the pickle using a foam brush dipped in Elmer’s school glue. Once I was done creating the pickled lines, I added the bummy texture by making dark green dots using the ends of a Q-tip. I then when BACK over each dot with a light green dab – giving it that 3D illusion of raised bumps.
For this set of paper-mâché food, I went for a bit of realism just to be able to demonstrate different techniques for creating food textures with basic art supplies. But half the fun of this project is letting your imagination run wild down the Midway!
You can try your hand at something you’ve seen (maybe cotton candy, a soft pretzel, caramel apple, or some kind of kebab). Or take a walk on the wild fried side with deep-fried pb&j, chicken and waffles, siracha empanadas, even white chocolate-covered bugs on a stick. Or sculpt something the carnival food scene has NEVER witnessed before! The crazier the better, because the beauty of paper-mâché food is that no one actually has to eat it. Get gourmet, get goofy, get gross. It’s all up to you! Grab some inspiration from this tour of Minnesota State Fair foods on sticks courtesy of Bon Appetit.
For more deliciously entertaining faux food projects, visit the DIY for our cardboard French market food, use simple supplies to create your own play sushi set, or make something you can actually sink your teeth into with these delish mini hamburger cookie treats.
*A note about affiliate links: We strive to use simple, earth-friendly supplies that can be purchased locally whenever we can, but sometimes we find the best universally available options, a rare eco-friendly find, or a niche product only available on Amazon or Woodpecker Crafts. When included in our supply list, these products are affiliate links, and if you click-through to make a purchase, we receive a small commission that helps us re-order these supplies!