Friday, June 24, 2011

Papier-Mâché Proton Pack

Ash and I love Halloween. We hosted our first Halloween party in my dorm room and made everyone wear costumes while we watched scary movies and ate a lot of candy. Every year since then, our parties have gotten bigger and more elaborate. It’s gotten to the point that we’ll pick our theme for the next Halloween almost a year in advance. Some of our past parties have included “Prom Queen of the Damned,” “Arabian Frights,” and “We’re Dying to Have You Over…”
I knew that sooner or later Ash would want a Ghostbusters party since that was his favorite movie as a child, and he’s been pining for his long lost plastic proton pack. So, this year is The Year. Of course my husband wants to be Bill Murray’s character, which will require coveralls, a Ghostbusters patch, and a proton pack.
I usually make our costumes every year, so that leaves me with the task of making a proton pack. At first I told Ash I’d make him one out of papier-mâché, and he scoffed at my idea. I guess he forgot that I have an art degree and spent many years in sculpture classes. He also saw way too many pictures of proton pack replicas made by übernerds on the internet to want a sculpted one. He thought he might buy one until he discovered they cost $1,500, so he changed his mind and decided a papier-mâché one will be good enough. We also had a discussion that even if I spend a few hundred dollars on supplies and spend the entire summer building one, it’s still not going to catch ghosts.
A friend of Ash’s also wanted a proton pack, so his wife and I got together this week to begin construction. I started by drawing the layout on a piece of cardboard. Next, I cut up cardboard boxes and paper towel rolls and glues and taped them in place. I also added various other pieces, such as film cases, dowels, scraps of wood, and other random bits. My goal is to spend as little money on this project as possible and clear out some junk in my craft bin.
My friend built up hers too, but her attention span waivered and decided that her husband wasn’t as dorky as mine and didn’t need an exact copy. When she called him to ask if it was okay, she said that it will still have the main parts like the cyclotron, the crank generator, and the ectoplasmic reticulum.
After the armatures were complete, we started the first papier-mâché layer. We used cornstarch paste, which I think is the best glue of this type of project. It’s easy to make, it’s smooth, and it keeps for awhile in a plastic container. To make cornstarch paste, just put a little bit of the powder in a small pan and stir in cold water. Heat it up the stove and stir it until it turns thick like gravy sans-flavor.
I think we made pretty good progress after one day, but I can see it’s going to take awhile to get these complete. I’m glad I started early!


  1. Can I be just a touch cheeky and ask that you pretty pretty please with sprinkles, raspberry sauce, a flake (British thing; it's a chocolate bar) and a cherry on top keep us posted on the proton pack, finishing the theme with some photos of Ash in costume?

  2. That looks great! Count me in also as wanting to see the finished product.