Friday, August 19, 2011

How to make a cave out of paper

How to make a cave.

First I started off with some paper mil paper. It is pretty heavy duty stuff, and it come in a roll, but don't ask me where from because I have never had to order it.  We have just always had a giant roll of it.  I am nearing the end and I am going to have to figure out where it can be purchased.
Anyway, I unrolled a long piece, and cut it using a razor knife.

 Starting at one end I began folding and stepping on it to crumple it up.  This is a great way to take out some pent up frustrations.  And this is also a great time to let the kids help.  They love jumping and crumpling up paper.  

WARNING: If you crumple this up on a tile/stone floor it will be a little slick, and you might find yourself sitting rather hard on the floor.

ANOTHER WARNING: This paper is also very easy to get paper cuts from.  So be careful.

Ok so it is now crumpled up. 

I unfolded it back to it's almost original length.  Time to staple it on the wall.
I have a set built of 4'x8' frames with styrofoam on them.  So I added a few pieces of plywood for the staples to hold to. Then I randomly bunch and move the paper so it forms rock like shapes.  

I always try and turn the raw edge under.  It makes it a little bit more rock like.  

See if you lightly fold the raw edge down and staple, it looks better.

I didn't take any pictures of the painting process, mainly because I was in a hurry to get it done and get some sleep.  
I have used a paint sprayer before but the overspray took so long to clean up I decided against it this time.
I took an airbrush and sprayed blackish grey paint upwards.  Only from the bottom up.  This gives the illusion of shadows.  I tried to fill in as many gaps as possible.  If you really have a lot of time and want it to look better, do the same concept but from the top with a lighter color.  This will give the illusion of highlights.

Here is a promo video using the set.


  1. can you make it smaller like for a model in a science class?

    1. Yes, I would use paper bags. The ones from the grocery store not lunch bags. Mainly lunch bags are thinner and once you put paint on them they don't hold up as well.
      I would cut the bags down one side and cut off the bottom. Then crumple them up like I did. Just make sure the logos are on the inside.

      You can form them into stalactites (from the Top) and stalagmites and put them in also.
      You can spray paint dark paint from the bottom up to give it shadows, and a lighter color from the top down to give it highlights.

  2. Hi Jeff! Thanks for the great idea! We were planning to make a treasure cave for the school exhibition with cheap materials and less mess where the kids can help make.
    And less attachments to preserve the classroom walls. We'll be doing this!

  3. Thank You Thank You Thank You! I have been searching for a way to make a cave and then your site came up. It is exactly what I am looking for and very do-able!

  4. Did you ever find out where to get the paper?

  5. Can i use similar methods to make a snow mountain?

    1. Yes I would think so. It might take a bit more white paint to cover the brown, and instead of black or dark brown for the shadows I would use a blue.

  6. We got a huge roll of gray paper from Amazon for around $45 & free shipping if you're a prime member.

    1. Do you know what mil thickness the paper that you bought is?