Make Your Own Flying Pig

The Project - Make Your Own Flying Pig - Poetry Of The Pings - Support Team - Press

Well, it's not very hard at all, but does take some time and patience. Most of the things you will need can be found around the house or cost very little. This is where the magic starts, you will make something beautiful out of virtually nothing.


You will need these bits and pieces

  • A round or pear-shaped balloon and a couple of rubber bands.
  • About 25cm (10") of stiffish wire.
  • Some old newspapers.
  • Some cardboard (not corrugated) and some stiff paper.
  • A sharp craft knife of some sort.
  • If you've got one, a hot glue gun is handy but not essential.

And, of course, you will need to make some Flying Pig Glue.

Secret Flying Pig Glue Recipe (do not let this fall into the wrong hands)

Put 5 cups of cold water into a saucepan then dry the cup. Using a whisk or a fork, carefully stir in 1 cup of plain flour until it's nice and milky with no lumps. Add 2 teaspoons of salt and put on a low heat, stirring constantly with a large spoon. Just before the mixture boils, it will thicken suddenly. Keep stirring, making sure you get into the bottom and side of the pot. Let it boil for only a few seconds, then remove from the heat and allow it to cool. It's ready as soon as it is cool enough to dip your fingers in and will keep for about 10 days in the fridge.

Diagram 1.

1. You are now ready to blow up your balloon.

Well, go on. Blow it up!

Remember, the bigger your balloon, the more work you have to do, so don't start out with the world's biggest balloon.

Next, tie a rubber band or piece of string around the knot so that you can hang your balloon up to dry after you've covered it with paper, see diagram 1.

While your glue is cooling down, it's worth tearing up some newspaper. If you try it a couple of different ways you will find the paper has a grain and tears in nice straight lines one way but not the other. If you start at the fold you will find that you can tear lovely long straight thin strips. It is easier if you do it that way. The paper cannot lay flat on the curved surface of the balloon so any piece of paper more than 3cm (an inch and a bit) will make lumps, creases and other annoying bits.

2. Start sticking paper to your balloon.

Put some good music on and get into it. It's best to be sort of systematic (rhythmic?) and follow a pattern of some sort as in diagram 2. Try to get each piece of paper properly damped with the glue but not have too much on each strip. It only has to be wet enough to cling well. Cover your balloon completely and generously, perhaps even doing it in one pattern, then going over it again with another (about 1hr's work). Hang it up somewhere in the house to dry but do not put it in the sun or near a heater. If it gets hot, even just a little too warm, the air in the balloon (and thus the balloon) will expand and tear your work apart. It will take 12-24 hrs to dry.

Tomorrow we'll do it again.

If all has gone well your balloon has a nice crisp but fragile paper shell. It will need at least another generous layer of paper. Balloons can be funny things and they often go down overnight so we hope this hasn't happened. If it has, you just have to start over again (sorry about that). Overlap each piece, use a different pattern and take your time. If you are doing a big balloon you might have to do this 3 or 4 more times yet.

As you put newspaper on, your shell will get soft again, so be careful. Again you will need to hang it somewhere safe to dry overnight.

Diagram 2.

Diagram 3.

3. Are we ready for the next bit yet?

If your shell is now dry, and strong enough to burst the balloon and then drop it on the floor without getting a dent, we are ready to move on. If not, give it another layer and then proceed from here. It should be lightweight but have a strong, rigid, "woody" feel.

3a. Adding the hanging Wire.

This is not the most exciting part of making your pig but in the long term it is one of the most important. If you are going to hang it from your ceiling, or any-where else, this is what will hold it up. Cut the wire to a suitable length, make a loop at each end as in diagram 3 and tape it with lots and lots of pieces of paper to the shell. Put some strips along beside the wire to reduce the ridge, then start with short strips across, using longer strips with each layer. The stronger you make it the better. The wire and the extra paper will give your Pig a strong spine.

Again, you'll have to wait for it to dry, so hang it up till tomorrow.

4. A pig with no nose knows nought.

Time to put on the nose. First you should burst and remove your balloon. Hang on to your rubber bands and just stab the other end of the balloon with a pin (thru the paper) and wait a second or two. The shell will make some funny noises as the balloon deflates and comes free of the lovely hard shell we've made so it's fun to put it to your ear.

This is where we need our stiff paper, something about 150gsm or about the thickness of a greeting card. Check out diagram 4 and cut a curved strip about 40cm(16") long and make a cone as shown. It might take 2 or 3 goes to get a cone that fits your pig but it's worth it. It doesn't matter if it is too long, you can always cut it back after you have attached it.

If you have a hot glue gun, this is where it comes in handy. Just hot glue the piece of paper into a cone and then stick it to the balloon. You'll still have to cover it with several layers of paper so it's not really a short cut, just a convenience. If you don't have a glue gun it doesn't matter, just use 2 little pieces of sticky tape up your cone and 4 to tape it to your shell. There is a 'Secret Trick" you can use if you have a microwave oven. Cut your piece of paper, and twist it into a cone as in diag.4. Wind strips of lots of normal glued paper around it to hold it in place then carefully stand it up in your microwave. 20-40 seconds will dry it, giving you a nice stiff cone to attach to your shell. This can also be handy when doing the legs and feet. Again use short strips of paper when starting to attach the nose and get a bit longer with each layer. After a couple of layers, wind some strips around the nose, crossing the previous layers.

Diagram 4.

Diagram 5.

5. Now for the Aerodynamic Engineering bit.

In other words, we are now going to fit the wings. You need a piece of good firm cardboard and definitely not glossy (glue won't stick) or corrugated (bends badly and leaves major creases).

Look at diagram 5 and you'll see some wing shapes. Sketch out a wing that suits your pig, on the cardboard (not in the middle, silly, over to one side). You might even want to do it on an ordinary piece of paper, try it out then stencil it onto your cardboard. After cutting one good one out, turn it over and stencil the other one then cut it out. This is important, cardboard is often very different on one side to the other (painted or in some other way coated on one side). If this is the case you want the similar sides going the same way, either up or down. It will severely affect the way the wings bend.

Now we play a little with our wings, try out a few positions, high or low, forward or back etc. Do you want them to curve up or down? Do you want to tilt your pig in its flight? Check out where your hanging wire is, this will determine the angle your pig will be flying on.

Have a really good look and once you've picked a position, mark each wing with a pencil. Cut a slot along the line of where you want one of the wings and just shove it in. Check the position of the other wing carefully then cut a slot for it and insert it too.

Look at it from lots of different angles to be sure you like the way your wings sit.

Either hot glue the wings in place or just start papering them. As before, use small pieces of paper at first, carefully working you way around the joint on both sides of each wing. Do a second and third layer using slightly longer strips each time. Put a couple of pieces of paper around the edges of the wing, down close to the base, joining the paper on the top of the wing to the paper on the bottom. If your wings are large or becoming soft and in danger of sagging, hang you pig up to dry again.

Using small pieces of paper, work your way around the edges of each wing to cover the top and bottom. Once the wings are completely covered, they should be soft enough to gently bend into either an upward of downward curve, remember, be careful. Once you are happy with their shape give them another coating of paper but again, if they are in danger of sagging, leave them to dry.

The wings are strong enough when you can hold the pig up by either one of them, remembering that it will heavier by the time it is finished. Extra paper never really hurts.

6.Now for the legs and feet.

Back to our stiffish paper. Cut a circle roughly the size of a dinner plate, then cut another circle about 10cm (4") out of the centre of it. Then cut it into 4 segments as shown in diagram 6. Each segment will make one leg.

Roll each segment around to make a cone just as you did when making the nose and paper them on in a similar manner. Again you will need small thin pieces to do a smooth job. If the legs are too long, don't paper over the ends. Let them dry thoroughly and then trim them back with a small pair of scissors later.

It is worth spending plenty of time on the legs to make them very strong and give them good shape. You can use built-up layers of paper to create knees on the front legs and hocks on the back. Once it is thoroughly dry, you can cut a front leg off at the knee and re-attach it bending backwards, for that dynamic look.

Diagram 6.

Diagram 7.

7. Ears to you and your Flying Pig.

Your pig must be starting to look pretty cool by now and you should be getting the hang of this papier-mache stuff so go straight to diagram 7 and get into it. Cut the ears out first, they can be big or small, then cut curved slots for them. Paper them over much the same as you did with the wings but they will be much softer and bend easier. Bend them into the shape you want then let them dry. You'll probably have to coat them about 3 times to get them strong enough.

Is this the End ???

Well, before we get to the end, we have to check that everything is strong enough. You should be able to pick up your Flying Pig and turn it around on various angles using any one of its parts, feet, ears or wings. If any parts don't feel strong enough, give them another layer of paper.

The last but far from least bit, is the tail. Have a look at diagram 8 and tear 5-6 thin strips of paper. Only wet about 2/3 of the strip with glue and then twist it around itself. Get another piece, wet it the same then wind this piece around the first piece. Do it again only this time in the opposite direction. Do it 4 or 5 times.

Next wet the dry tabs with glue and stick it to you pig's (ahem) bottom. Stick more strips to the Pigs bottom and wind the around the tail until you're sure the join is strong enough and the tail is the thickness and length you want. Now curl it into the position and shape you want and leave it to dry.

This isn't really the end because now you have to paint your beautiful "Flying Pig".

Painting your "Porcine Aviatrix"

If you've made it this far you really do deserve congratulations, well done.

I use ordinary water-based undercoat that you would use on your house. Use a 50cm (2") brush and apply a generous coat filling any tiny holes and imperfections with the paint. When dry, carefully insect your pig for flaws, the paint will show them all up. If you have to add more paper to fix any problems, now is the time to do it. The paper and glue will stick as normal. Make sure it has 2 complete coats of undercoat.

Try to use good quality artists' acrylic paints, you've put a lot of work into your pig so far, it would be a pain if your paint job fades in only a year or 2. Paint it any way you chose. Ours are all painted in the pink with black and white manner just because consistency suits our purpose but you can paint your's purple with pink spots if you like. You can paint stars, crescents and other magic symbols on it or put it in a checked suit complete with real buttons and paper build-ups the emphasise the lapel, tie and cuffs. You could made saddle bags or a hat for it if you like. It's really up to you and how creative you wish to be.

Finish your paint job off with 2 coats of "Clear High Gloss Artists Acrylic Varnish", readily available at you local Art & Crafts shop.

When you've finished, we love you to send us a photo, just email a .jpg through the website.

Diagram 8.