Make one or more 3-dimensional jungle vines with newspapers and green tempera paint. Tempera, or poster paint, is an opaque paint that does a great job of covering, dries quickly and doesn't flake when used on paper.
Coat hanger wire lets you bend the vines however you want. Hang them from the ceiling, let them meander along a wall, twine one around a post -- or do all three, as part of your jungle background. Make the stems and leaves with green construction paper.
Creating the Vine's Base
Things You'll Need
The longer and thicker you want your vine, the more newspaper you'll need. A two-page newspaper section when rolled diagonally provides about 30 inches of vine -- before bending.
Open one of the newspaper's sections. The number of pages will depend on the newspaper, so if you want a thicker or thinner vine, remove or add pages from other sections as needed.
Use strong but easily bendable wire such as from coat hangers. You'll need enough to equal the length of your vine. One coat hanger straightens out to around 60 inches.
After carefully straightening a coat hanger, lay the piece of wire diagonally across the two opened pages, from the farthest top corner to the farthest bottom corner.
Beginning at the bottom right corner, roll the paper up, enclosing the wire along the way. Tape the roll where needed to prevent unraveling. Tape one side shut and leave the other open.
Experiment with the thickness, re-creating this first section as needed to determine how many pages you want to use for subsequent sections to make a vine the size you desire.
Roll another section of newspaper with wire as you did the first section. Tape the newspaper to secure, while leaving both ends unsecured. Insert the end into the opening on the first rolled section, and tape. Continue rolling sections, joining and taping. Once the vine is as long as you want it -- allowing for curves and loops you will create -- bend the end of the wire so it cannot poke anyone, and then tape the end closed.
To estimate a length that will allow for any loops, twining or meandering of the vine, make a scaled down model with a ball of string. Calculate how many times longer the straightened string is than it was when vining. For example, if it's double the length, then make your vine double the length of what you think you'll need to use in the manner you want.
Painting the Vine
Things You'll Need
- Tempera paint, premixed or in powder form.
- Water (if needed).
- School glue (optional).
- Paintbrushes -- small house painting brushes and large bristled artist brushes work well
If you have tempera powder, add water until you have a consistency that covers the newspaper print well. If your vine has lots of little flaps of paper that you won't want to take time to paint, use school or craft glue instead of water. Leave a few flaps free to paint for a touch of realism. For more realism, blend brushstrokes of darker or lighter shades of your green tempera.
While tempera paints, especially brands sold for children, are usually nontoxic, the powder is a lung irritant and should be mixed outdoors and not inhaled.
Paint the newspaper vine with the largest brushes first -- just the top and sides, and let it dry -- and then go back with a smaller brush and paint any small flaps of newspaper that you left sticking out for realism. After the paint dries, turn over the vine and paint the bottom as you did the top and sides.
Adding Stems and Leaves
Things You'll Need
- Green construction paper
- School glue
- Green pipe cleaners (optional)
- Craft glue (optional)
- Clear tape (optional)
If children are helping, use safety scissors with rounded tips.
Draw the jungle leaves with stems, freehand or using a template you create from a printed picture. Make the leaf size proportionate to the vine and large enough to be visible on the finished vine. To make large leaves, fill most of a sheet of construction paper with a single leaf. Or or tape two to four sheets of the paper together for a gigantic leaf.
Glue the leaf stems to the vine. Alternatively, twist two or three pipe cleaners together to form a long stem. Wrap one end around the vine, or attach with craft glue. Attach the other end of the stem to the leaf with tape or craft glue.
If you want to shape the vine as you hang it, or if you are wrapping it around something, such as a patio post, recruit volunteers to help hold it. Otherwise, with an eye to where you will hang it, bend the vine to form loops and curves, taking care not to tear the leaves.
Cindy Blankenship, a California native, began reporting in 1996 for the Grants Pass Daily Courier after teaching in Hawaii where she lived 14 years. As assistant editor at the Rogue River Press, she wrote and edited several stories that earned awards from the Oregon Newspaper Publishers Association. Her writing appears in numerous publications.