Add a whimsical touch to a playroom, kids room, or even art studio with this handmade PLAY pennant! Made from paper mache using upcycled materials and colorful accents, this PLAY pennant project is easy to adapt to different skill levels if you want to make with little folks.
Keep reading for the detailed tutorial!
Gather Your Materials
- Newsprint, tissue paper, or sale flyers
- Stick or dowel
- Masking tape
- Old book pages
- Acrylic paint
- Pom pom maker
- Bristol paper (watercolor or any other heavy paper will also work)
- E6000 glue or glue gun
- Glue stick
- Matte gel medium
Be sure to check out My Top 10 Go To Tools for Crafting
- Wooden skewer
- Paper piercing tool (this Pokey Tool looks like it would be very versatile)
How To Make A Paper Mache PLAY Pennant
Make the Paper Mache Base
Using a pencil, draw two triangles onto scrap cardboard, using a T-square to ensure your lines are straight. My triangles were 6″ high and 9″ long. Cut out both triangles with scissors.
Next, you’ll make the pennant shape three dimensional by adding newspaper between the pieces. Cover one side of each cardboard pennant with a glue stick. Rip pieces of newsprint and crumple into flat-ish balls then stick to the cardboard. Once most of the first cardboard pennant is covered, make a sandwich with the other cardboard piece. Then use masking tape to secure the pieces and filling together.
Don’t worry if the pennant isn’t a uniform height, embrace the imperfection!
Cover with Paper Mache
First, tear up paper into small strips. You can use newspaper/newsprint but I prefer to use pages from vintage books. Book pages come in many different weights, I find medium weight ones are the easiest to work with.
Mix up paper mache paste in a small bowl. Start with a 2:1 ratio of water to flour: 1 cup water, 1/2 cup flour. Whisk together and add more flour until paste is smooth and the consistency of thin pancake batter.
Next, dip a strip of paper into the paper mache paste and wipe off the excess. Apply the strip to the cardboard pennant base, overlapping paper strips and smoothing as you go.
Repeat until the front, back, and sides of the pennant are covered in paper mache.
Dry Your Pennant
The oven is the fastest, easiest way to dry most paper mache projects, including this one.
Place your pennant on a wire rack and place the wire rack on a baking sheet. Bake your pennant in a 180 degree oven for about 2 hours. After the first hour, flip the pennant over. You may need more or less time depending on the number of paper mache layers and amount of paste so be sure to check frequently after the first hour.
The pennant will be dry to the touch and very lightweight when done.
Let your pennant cool for about 10 minutes and then sand down and big lumps of dried paper mache paste. I use whatever sandpaper I have on hand, typically 100 or 150 grit.
Finally, you’ll make two holes that will be used later for ribbon that will attach the pennant flag to the stick (or dowel). You can use the photos below to approximate where to place your holes, one at the top and one at the bottom. Try not to poke your holes too close to the edges of your pennant.
I used a paper piercer to poke the holes and then used a wooden skewer to make sure the holes went all the way through the pennant. You can rotate the skewer inside the hole to widen it a bit. A bead reamer, hand drill, or awl would probably work even better for this step but I used the first thing I could find on my studio desk. Don’t worry too much about the holes being neat, they won’t show on the finished project.
Paint & Decorate
Now that you have a fully baked paper mache pennant, it’s time to give it some personality!
First, paint the pennant and the stick (or dowel). I picked my palette of colors and then used solid colors for both the stick and the pennant flag.
For added stability, I glued the pennant edge to the painted stick with E6000. Be sure to leave about 3″ at the top of the stick for a pom-pom that will be added later. Let dry for several hours or overnight.
Next, add your word onto the pennant.
There are lots of options for adding your word. You could cut letters out of a magazine, paint directly onto the pennant, or even use letter stickers or die cuts. I chose to hand cut letters from painted papers and cardstock to create a layered collage word.
Paint a small piece of Bristol board (it’s smooth and heavyweight, great for this project though you can definitely use cardstock or something similar) with the base color for your letters. For my pennant, that was tart grapefruit (aka pink). The Bristol board takes the paint well and will lie flat without wrinkles once it dries.
Cut out your letter pieces, using the photo as a guide.
Next, paint a second piece of Bristol board in a contrasting color ~ raw turquoise in this example. Once the paint has dried, cut out smaller accent pieces to glue on your base letters. Finally, cut out even smaller accent pieces in a third color. I used a pale pink cardstock on my pennant. Dry fit the letter layers and then glue together using matte gel medium.
Again using matte gel medium, glue all the layers onto your base letters then glue the letters onto the painted paper mache pennant. I like to start with the last letter of the word and work backwards just to make sure everything will fit and the spacing is to my liking. The gel medium works well to adhere the heavier weight letters, just hold each piece down for 15-30 seconds to help ensure a good bond.
Once the gel medium is dry and the letters are firmly attached, seal the pennant with 1-2 coats of Mod Podge.
When the topcoat is dry, add your ribbon ties.
Cut two pieces of ribbon, about 6-8″ long depending on the diameter of your stick. Use the wooden skewer to help poke the ribbon through the hole as shown. Tie each ribbon in a simple, tight knot and then one more knot. Finish the ends of the ribbon with an angle or V-cut, if desired.
At this point I decided the pennant needed a little something more so I painted some scattered white polka dots onto the PLAY pennant.
Top It Off
What better way to finish off this whimsical PLAY pennant than with a fluffy pom pom?
I used a larger (but not the largest) size of Clover pom pom maker with some coral colored yarn to create my pom pom. I always leave long “tails” on the piece of yarn that’s used to tie together the pom pom at the center.
Trim and floof the pom pom until it looks fab and fluffy.
Dab a bit of E6000 or other strong glue (or hot glue) onto the top of the stick then use the tails of yarn to tie the pom pom to the top of the stick. Once the pom pom is secure, trim the long ends of the yarn.
Now your PLAY pennant is ready to display! I have mine propped up on an inspiration/storage ledge in my upstairs studio corner. It’s a great reminder for me to remember to play when I’m making art. This PLAY pennant would also look great in a kids space: a playroom, bedroom, or art space.
If you make a paper mache PLAY pennant, be sure to tag me on IG @33cliffstreetstudio, I’d love to see!
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