An insulated cauldron to keep brews and booze chilled during your party or doubles as a kick ass Halloween prop. Made with a keg bucket and cheap everyday items. This tutorial can also be used to “rust” up plastic cauldrons from party supply stores.

Just a heads up. This project is A LOT of fun but is time consuming. Patience will pay off with this project and the end result is something to admire.

Let’s get started.

You want to start off with your cardboard. I had a friend buy some furniture from IKEA and the cardboard was smooth, clean and sturdy. Once you get enough cardboard, you will want to create a stencil to make 30 of the cauldron “ribs”. These ribs are 16″ in length. The round part of the ribs I traced with a circular bucket. Also, cut off the rope handles from the bucket. We don’t need those.

After I had all the ribs cut, I used my razor blade to make marks on the bucket 2 inches apart so I knew where to put the ribs. With having the ribs 2 inches apart, this insures a secure structure.

I used hot glue to get the ribs attached to the bucket and then went back on the sides of the ribs with Liquid Nails to make sure they wouldn’t go anywhere. Once you have the ribs secure with Liquid Nails, let it completely dry for 24 hours before moving on to the next step.

When the ribs are secure from the Liquid Nails, cover most of the cauldron with duct tape starting at the top and going towards the bottom, leaving a little room towards the bottom. I did two layers of duct tape. Once you get close to the bottom, stop and use Great Stuff foam to fill in between the ribs. DON’T GO CRAZY! A little will go a long way. We just want enough to cover the black bucket part. It doesn’t need to come to the top of the ribs. You don’t want it to expand that much anyways. You can skip the Great Stuff part if you don’t plan to use this as a drink cooler.

Close up the bottom of the cauldron with the duct tape. From here we are going to make some homemade paper mache glue! It makes a ton and saves on having to buy glue and water it down. Plus this recipe can be saved if you don’t use it all.

You need 2 quarts of boiling water and 1 cup of cornstarch mixed with 2 cups of COLD water. Remove the boiling water from the heat. Stir the mixture of boiling water with the cold cornstarch water. Mix thoroughly!

While the mixtures cools down begins to stiffen a bit, cut your newspapers into strips. Make them at least 1 inch strips.

Time to get messy! Grab some gloves!

The mixture will take about 20-30 minutes to cool enough to handle it. Grab some gloves and start gluing! To make the structure extremely sturdy, I would suggest at least 3-4 layers of newspaper. Do 1-2 layers, let it dry and then come back and do another 1-2 layers.

TIP: Spread cornstarch on the cauldron and then place the strips using more mixtures to smooth it out. Dipping the newspaper in the mix doesn’t work as well on the duct tape.

The power of time lapse!

Time to attach the towel rings to use as the cauldron handles. I am adding them now before painting so it looks as uniform as possible. plus it is easier to attach them now in the process. I grabbed the white handles because they will be easier for the paint to adhere to than a chrome or gold ring. I again used a lot of Liquid Nails to get a firm hold. I used the rope handle holes at the top of the bucket as a guide so they were equal distant apart. I went 5 inches down the bucket for placement.

Give those handles 24 hours to cure and become secure. In the meantime, we are going to attach the pipe insulation as the lip of the cauldron. I used (you guessed it) Liquid Nails underneath to attach the pipe insulation and then strapped some painters tape on top to keep it in place while it cured.

We’re getting there!

Let’s paint this puppy! I used a matte chalkboard spray paint. I tested some hammered spray paint for a look and it didn’t do anything. In fact it was too shiny and you couldn’t even tell it was hammered, so I opted for the matte charcoal spray. You’ll want two good coats of spray paint.

Time to mess this cauldron up and give it some gross crusty bits! Mix your Mod Podge with oatmeal, sand, and dirt till you get a chunky paste (mmmm chunky paste). You can use these last techniques too for messing up the store bought cauldrons too! It all works! Use a cheap paintbrush you don’t mind throwing away afterwards.

TIP: The ratio of Mod Podge to oatmeal/sand should be 2:1. If you have more oats than glue it won’t stick properly.

When the crusty bits are all dry, go back over them with another layer of just Mod Podge so this will give an extra layer of glue and prevent the crust from being ripped off. Once it has dried for 24 hours, spray it with two more coats of paint.

At this point we want to mess up the cauldron a bit more with some aging and rust technique. I used the acrylic paints from Michaels. I used a brown and Red Oxide to create the rust spots. I dabbed the Red Oxide and brown together in areas and came back over them with a black acrylic paint so it wasn’t so pronounced. Do this in as many areas as you want. If you mess up, just paint back over it with the black spray paint.

Almost there! Finally, take some dark green and putrid yellow paint and water it down so we can both drip it over the sides and use it to enhance the crusty pieces on the cauldron. If you need to wipe some off, wipe down to give the illusion of the boil over drip.

Since this is a new project and I haven’t used it at a party I am using it as a prop for now. I have tested it with drinks and ice and it works amazingly! Once I am able to have a party and use it as a cooler I will update this post with pictures of how it worked out and presentation. Stay tuned and PLEASE let me know if you have any questions!

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