My husband decided he wants to dress as Uncle Sam this year, both for a Halloween costume and as a patriotic Fourth of July getup. But rather than purchase a pre-made Uncle Sam costume online, I decided to pull my resources and get creative. I discovered a fun, resourceful way to make a paper-mache Uncle Sam hat, using materials I already had around the house, making this craft project essentially “free.”
– paper towels or toilet paper
– white glue
– spoon and bowl
– acrylic paint (red, white and blue)
– painting supplies
– large cereal box
– 12″ cardboard square
– baseball cap / hat
How to make your paper-mache Uncle Sam hat:
1. Draw a large oval on the 12″ square cardboard, then cut it out.
2. Place a baseball cap (or another hat) in the middle of the oval. Trace around the cap, then cut out this oval shape. Try the hat brim on your head and check the fit; if it fits, go to the next step. If tight, trim until it fits. Save the oval you cut from the brim.
3. Deconstruct a large cereal box by cutting off the edges of the small sides until you can unfold one long piece of cardboard. Roll into an oval and test it against the hole in your hat brim (the cylinder should sit “on top” of your hat brim, not on the inside of it). Cut the length of the roll until you have your desired hat height.
4. Bend the cereal box back into a cylinder, then secure with tape. Place the cylinder on the brim, then tape to hold. Place the saved oval on top of the cylinder, and tape to hold; you do not have to use much tape – the hat will not be getting its strength from the tape, it will get strength from the paper-mache.
5. Make an easy paper-mache mixture by pouring white school glue into a bowl, adding water and flour, then stirring until you have a smooth mixture. Precise measurements are unnecessary; just combine to your desired consistency (you only need a small amount).
6. Tear newspaper into thick, long strips, then rip in half. Dip each strip in paper-mache glue, then attach to your Uncle Sam hat, covering taped seams. Continue until all seams are covered and smooth. Cover the newspaper with a final layer of torn paper towels or toilet paper, in order to cover the newspaper text and pictures (which will show through when painted). Let dry.
7. Using red, white and blue acrylics, begin painting your Uncle Sam hat. Paint the hat brim and the top of the oval in red. Paint red and white stripes going down all the way around the cylinder, then a large blue strip across the bottom of the cylinder. When the blue is dry, paint white stars going around the blue. Let dry.
Your Uncle Sam hat is complete and ready to wear for any occasion. But if Uncle Sam isn’t your cup of tea, you can still use these instructions to make an Abraham Lincoln hat (just paint the whole hat black), or as any mid-19th century costume accessory.
More from this contributor:
– How to screenprint an American flag t-shirt
– How to make a felt American flag garland
– How to make patriotic drop earrings from polymer clay