I don't know about your wax question, but if you do the balloon/ paper basket,
you could try a stiffer paper as the first layer-- like white copy paper, and
add the colored tissue over that. It can be done with thinned white glue or
Ross art paste instead of Mod Podge. The tissue color will bleed, so when you
get to that step you can use paste brushes or something to apply it and
hopefully get less on your hands.