Paper Mache Elephant Pattern
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Use the pattern along with the video on this site to make your own baby elephant today.
This life-sized baby elephant pattern continues to be the most popular project on this site, and it’s been seen by over a million people on YouTube!.
Even though this sculpture is big and I used a power saw to make the armature, Elsie was not difficult to make. It isn’t a complicated sculpture, just a big one. She was one of the first sculptures I ever made with an internal pattern, and now I almost never make a sculpture without one.
As you’ll see in the video, the steps for this paper mache project are pretty easy. However, each step will take time.
I used a scrap of particle-board for my armature, but you could use plywood or even cardboard. In fact, I recommend it, because the particle board made my elephant a lot heavier than it needs to be. I notice that every time I move her so I can vacuum the floor. 🙂
You can also fill out the body of your paper mache elephant with empty plastic bottles, and then finish the shapes with crumpled paper. This reduces the number of newspapers you need for your project, and it makes the elephant lighter.
Use paper mache or paper mache clay –
I didn’t invent my paper mache clay recipe until after I made this elephant. Since the paper mache clay goes on faster than paper strips and paste, I’d probably use the pm clay if I made another life-sized elephant. However, I’d still use the final layer of paper towels to get that realistic elephant-skin look.
For the paint –
Acrylic paint is expensive, but you can also use house paint for this project. A quart container of grey should be all you need.
Keep your baby elephant inside –
When I started this project, I really thought a few coats of marine varnish would protect her from the elements. Fortunately, I chickened out and kept her inside. Experiments I’ve done since I made the elephant have proven that marine (spar) varnish doesn’t prevent rain and sun from destroying a paper mache sculpture. Be sure to keep your baby elephant inside.