Guest Author - Elsa Neal
The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back, and for the rest of the year the names Donatello, Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo refer to crime fighters not artists, and the Da Vinci Code gives way to Ninja street fighting code.
Children will want TMNT costumes for parties and Halloween this year, and every crime fighting turtle needs an armour-plated shell.
Make a ninja turtle shell from papier-mâché
In order to achieve a consistent shape for the carapace, or top of the shell, you will need to use the bottom of a large basin or your laundry basket as a mould – or anything that you can get a large oval shape from. Grease the bottom of the basin well with oil or cooking spray to prevent the papier-mâché from sticking permanently. Alternatively, if you don’t want to risk any paper sticking to your basin, cover the bottom and sides of the basin in cling wrap (saran wrap).
Use either a papier-mâché glue paste, available from craft shops, or mix PVA (craft) glue with equal amounts of water, or make your own traditional papier-mâché paste by mixing flour and water to the desired consistency. Add a teaspoon of salt to prevent the mixture going off.
Tear strips of old newspaper and scrap paper. Dip the paper strips in the glue, covering both sides of the strips. Layer the strips in a rough criss-cross pattern over the bottom of the basin. Apply several layers of paper, ensuring they cross over in opposite directions for reinforcement.
For added effect, form the raised pattern of the plates of the turtle’s carapace using smaller pieces of paper to build up the mini dome of each plate.
Use an old paintbrush or paste brush to smooth out the excess glue so that your shell has a neat finish.
Allow to dry, then remove the shell from the basin – you may need a spatula or craft knife to slip between the shell and the basin.
Apply a primer coat of white paint to the shell to hide the newsprint, then mix an olive-brown colour for the shell. Use a darker brown to outline the plates of the carapace. Don’t forget to paint the inside of the shell, as it will also be visible in parts.
Finally, for the plastron, or the front of the shell that covers the turtle’s belly, glue an old flesh-coloured or pale yellow vest or tunic to the open edges of the shell. Paint a few horizontal brown stripes along the chest and tummy, and a thinner vertical stripe down the middle.
If the shell is too heavy and pulls the vest down, reinforce it with two arm straps running from the shoulder to underarm to take the weight off the fabric of the vest.
Now add the correct coloured mask (purple, blue, red, or orange) with eyeholes cut out, some green face paint, and your very own ninja turtle is ready to go.
If you can't wait for the TMNT movie to come out on DVD, Things From Another World have the first animated episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 1 on DVD
Or get TMNT for Xbox 360 from Amazon.com and relive the movie