When I was in fourth grade, my church youth group did a craft that really made an impression on me. Why? I don’t really know. I just thought it was really cool.
While I was trying to think of a fun craft for Cinco de Mayo, I remembered that cool project: paper mache maracas made out of lightbulbs! What could be more fitting?
I gathered up the supplies I had on hand, a couple of burnt out incandescent light bulbs and two toilet paper tubes, and I headed to Walmart to pick up the rest of my supplies: a newspaper (yes, Walmart carries newspapers – who knew?), Modge Podge, a sponge brush, masking tape, and tissue paper in red, white, and green. I love the 99 cent packages of tissue paper that Walmart sells! I’ve used them for several different projects. I also picked up some all-purpose flour and some salt for the paper mache glue. This entire project easily costs less than $20.
How to Make Paper Mache Maracas
Paper mache is a little bit more time intensive than my usual simple crafts, but this project is worth the time investment. Make sure you begin at least a couple of days before you need your maracas. Now that you’ve gathered your supplies, here’s what you need to do.
Step 1: Make the basic maraca. Tape a toilet paper tube to the bottom of each light bulb. Stuff the toilet paper tube with recycled paper or newspaper to make sure the tube doesn’t collapse. This will be the handle of your maraca.
Step 2: Prepare your paper mache. Cut your newspaper into strips. For two maracas, I didn’t even use one small town newspaper. Just make a big pile of newspaper strips. You can always cut more if you need to.
To make the paper mache paste mix 1 cup all purpose flour, 1 1/2 cups water, and 1/2 Tablespoon of salt. Whisk it up so there are no lumps. Using a shallow glass container works best, so you have room to dip your paper without making a mess.
Step 3: Paper mache your maracas. This is the most time consuming (and messy) step. Dip a strip of newspaper into the paper mache glue. Hold the strip up over your glue container and run your fingers down the paper strip to remove the excess glue.
Carefully lay the wet paper strip over your lightbulb. Repeat the process until you cover the entire maraca, including the handle, in newspaper strips. Once you have a single layer of newspaper covering your maracas, you need to let them dry, so your maracas don’t get moldy from too many wet newspaper layers on top of each other.
To dry my maracas, I used a couple of pint sized mason jars to prop the maracas up, so they wouldn’t get stuck to the table. I also rotated them, while they were drying, so they wouldn’t stick to the jars.
Tip: To dry the newspaper more quickly, heat the oven to 200 degrees. Put your maracas, propped up on mason jars on top of a cookie sheet, in the oven and turn the oven off. The warm oven will dry the newspaper in about 4 hours.
Once the newspaper is dry, repeat the paper mache process. You need to have about four layers of newspaper on your maracas before you go on to step 4.
Between layers of newspaper, you can preserve your glue by covering it with plastic wrap. Just stir it up before you use it again. If you need to leave it overnight (and you probably will), put it in the refrigerator. Just bring it to room temperature before using the glue again.
Step 4: Break the lightbulbs. This is the fun part! Carefully bang each maraca on the kitchen counter until the lightbulb inside breaks. A single, quick knock on the counter works well. You’ll know the lightbulb is broken when you can hear the lightbulb pieces when you shake the maraca.
If you happen to dent or crack the paper mache while breaking the lightbulb, patch the area with more paper mache and let it dry before moving on to step 5.
Step 5: Decorate your maracas. Cut your tissue paper into squares (they don’t have to be uniform). With a sponge brush, apply Modge Podge to the maraca, adhere a tissue paper square, and add more Modge Podge on top of the tissue paper.
Continue working in a random pattern until the maraca is covered in tissue paper. Let dry.
The newspaper will show through the tissue paper. If that bothers you, you can paint your maracas with acrylic paint before applying the tissue paper. Or you can skip the tissue paper all together and just paint the maracas. It’s up to you.
Now you have some funky looking maracas to use for Cinco de Mayo! My three year old has claimed mine for herself. She obviously enjoys them a lot! Now to teach her a song to sing while she shakes her maracas!
Looking for an easy Cinco de Mayo snack? Check out my Cinco de Mayo Layered Jello Cups!