Extended Paper Mache Tutorials


Many of the tutorials on this site cover many posts and videos. I thought it would be helpful to put links to all these longer tutorials here on this new page, to make it easier to find each lesson in it’s proper order.

Some of my readers have used these extended tutorials like online classes, working along with me as I put out each new post or video. Others watch the techniques that are shown, and then adapt them to sculptures of their own design.

If you’re looking for shorter one-page tutorials, you can find them under the Paper Mache Tutorials link at the top of every post.

Commedia del Arte Mask – Pantalone

make a pantalone mask
This half-mask was made with the fast-setting paper mache paste and heavy blue shop towel technique that I developed for my book How to Make Masks! It’s a fast and easy way to make masks for theater, Mardi Gras or Halloween.

Baby Indian Elephant

paper mache elephant
This was my very first really big paper mache project, and all the steps ended up in one video. Even though this isn’t really a series of posts, I think it fits here anyway because so many people have followed all the steps in the video and used the pattern that I provided on this blog. This video has been seen by almost 450,000 people – and there are now many baby paper mache elephants in the world. I love seeing photos of them. Some of my viewers even use my techniques to make full-sized adult Indian elephants, (they’re huge!) for theater props and weddings.

Paper Mache Chihuahua, with Wire Armature

paper mache chihuahuatn
This little Chihuahua was made over a simple armature made with wire, foil and masking tape. Then strips of newspaper were added, using paste made with flour and water. I used the same techniques in this project that I used for all the sculptures in my book Make Tiny Paper Mache Dogs.

How to Make a Cat with Paper Mache Clay

Close-Up of Paper Mache Cat
A lot of people have followed this lesson series and made cats of their own. Some of my readers’ cat sculptures are shown in progress in the comment sections on each lesson page, and some of the finished cats were added to a special post I made, just for them. The techniques used in this tutorial are the same as those shown in my book Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay.

Paper Mache Raccoon with Shop Towel Mache

paper mache raccoon

 

This raccoon was an experiment to see if we could use the blue shop towels with a paste made with corn starch. It worked, but I much prefer the joint compound and glue paste with this kind of paper. That said, this is now one of my favorite sculptures, and the free pattern has been downloaded by many of my readers for their own raccoon sculptures.

Indian Rhino, a Plaster Cloth and Air-Dry Clay Experiment

rhino
This was the second time I used the air-dry clay over plaster cloth, and the first time I made the sculpture hollow inside. The success of this project helped me develop some of the techniques used in book How to Make Adorable Baby Animal Dolls, which is now in print. Since this was an experiment, it isn’t really a “lesson” per se, but the project did span several posts, and it has inspired quite a few people to try this technique for their own sculptures.

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl made with paper mache clay

 

This series of posts show how to make a pattern for a sculpture, how to make the armature with crumpled paper and masking tape, and how to use the paper mache clay to add details like feathers.

Raven – a Plaster Cloth and Air-Dry Clay Sculpture

raven sculpture
This project used plaster cloth and air-dry clay over a paper armature made with a cardboard pattern inside. Then I finished the sculpture to make it look like cast iron. The posts don’t go into a lot of detail because this was also a bit experimental, but I did include the sketch I used for the pattern.

Ballerina Bunny

Bronzed Paper Mache Bunny
This was a rather long project, using a different way of building the armature than I normally use. The finished piece was “bronzed,” and has a natural green patina. The sculpture was inspired by a comment from one of my readers, and by the famous mixed media sculpture by Degas.

Paper Mache Santa
This two-part project was fast and easy. And the result looked really nice on the front door of my house last Christmas.

Wolf Mask

Paper Mache Wolf Mask

 

This wolf mask combines the techniques shown in my book How to Make Masks! plus some added paper mache clay for the texture on the ruff. I used oil-based modeling clay instead of Super Sculpey for the temporary positive mold. It worked, but I didn’t like working with it as much, because it feels sticky – just my own personal thing, you know. I also tried creating this wolf-shaped display mask over a human-shaped mask form, which may or may not have been a good idea… πŸ˜‰ The mask came out really nice, I think, even with all the experimental changes.

Lion Head Outdoor Sculpture Made with Quikwall Concrete

Concrete Lion Head
Not a paper mache sculpture, obviously, but this one was fun, and a lot of people have said the videos inspired them to try a concrete sculpture of their own.

Ploughshare Tortoise

ploughshare tortoise

 

I created this tortoise while working on my coloring book, Endangered Animals Color and Learn Book. I intended to use it as my first experiment in weatherproofing a paper mache clay sculpture. The tortoise came out rather nice, and the paper mache clay worked really well for creating a realistic texture on this fellow’s shell and skin. However, the weatherproofing experiment failed miserably. The spar varnish I used cracked in the hot Eastern Oregon sun. Still – the sculpture itself was fun to make – I just don’t recommend putting yours outside, like I did. πŸ™

Appaloosa Foal in Paper Mache

Paper Mache Appaloosa Colt
I used drywall (plaster board) for the pattern on this project, just to see if it would work. It didn’t! Use cardboard, instead. I also used Super Sculpey as the form for the head and I forgot to remove it after the paper mache was dry, like I should have. The oil in the modeling clay seeped through the paint and ruined part of his face. It took about a year for the spot to show, but then it just kept getting bigger. I also used Super Sculpey for my giraffe head -but I did it right that time, and cut the head open to remove the clay. Live and learn. πŸ˜‰

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29 Comments

  • Greetings Jonni,
    I just discovered your site! Wonderful, wonderful things!
    I wonder if you may help me with a question? It’s a problem, I’ve had trouble solving-
    I paint & decorate paper mache forms that I order on-line. It’s called paper pulp, coated with white, which I was assuming may be plaster or gesso…
    Well, I sand, very smooth, & paint with acrylic craft paints. Often mixed with my own pigments such as pearlized powder or metallics. Several coats, until I am satisfied it is a rich color…
    To finish, mostly I want a high gloss, & have been using Krylon acrylic sprays.
    But it seems no matter how many coats I put on, if the mask gets bumped or worse yet, dropped,
    it will chip & show the white, for sure! Especially around edges.
    Can you think what I may be doing wrong? – or of a better / stronger sealer, I should use?
    Thanks very much, I’ll send a pic as an example of my work.

    • What a beautiful mask! But I don’t have an answer for you right off the top of my head. I know it’s a lot of work, but you might get a suggestion from more readers if you copy and paste you comment over on the Daily Sculptors Page, along with your image. It almost seems like you need a varnish that woodworkers use, or boat builders. Or one of the really tough two-part epoxy coatings. As over there – maybe someone has an answer for you – and I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  • Hi Jonni, I’m wondering if you have any advice for finding a face mold that is sized right for a toddler, or if one of those standard plastic forms will do? Thanks!

  • I love to do crafty stuff of all sorts- jewelry making, various paper crafts, mosaic, painting, etc and for some reason got this really nagging urge to make something using paper mache- a dog – because I love dogs and have a dog based business & thought how cool it would be if I could make a few paper mache dogs to put out by my gate to welcome clients. I was really excited to find that there is a book- which I plan to buy. When I saw the chihuahua tutorial, it seemed like a fun way to dive in and give it a try. This will be the first paper mache project I’ve ever attempted. Working on the armature now. . . Thanks so much for the guidance & inspiration I needed to get started!

      • Hi Jonnie
        I’m thrilled to have found your website. I’ll be looking for your book after Christmas .
        I’m attempting to make a T Rex Dinosaur for my granddaughter. It started with me scrunching up some leftover wire netting which I covered in paper Mache. I was looking for ways to finish it and I came across your website. Next time I plan to use your system.
        T Rex isn’t looking too bad now because I have built him up with scrunched paper and tape. Then I’m going to try your clay. I’ve used the wire for his feet and covered them with foil. Next thing I have to figure out is how to make his teeth. I have his jaws open. Can you help?
        Thanks Joyce

  • Hello!
    Does the armatures need to be completely covered in masking tape before putting on paper clay or paper and paste? Or else the crumbled paper get damaged from the “moist” in the clay or paste?
    And if the armatures have crumbled aluminium foil instead, does it also have to be completely covered in masking tape? Or else the clay or paste will not “stick” to the armature?

    • Hi Emelie. You probably don’t need to cover the entire armature with masking tape, but I like the way that the tape makes the armature smoother. The paper mache clay is pretty sticky, so it will probably hold on to the foil as long as it’s wet, and it will “key” into the dips in the foil, so you can leave off the masking tape if you want to. I don’t think the crumpled paper will keep it’s shape without the tape.

  • Hello!
    I’ve been watching many of your videos, and it seems that you cover the armature completly in masking tape, before you begin with paper clay or paper strips and paste? Am i right? Do you have to do that? Does the crumbled paper get damaged if it comes in contact with the moist in clay or paste? Or is it just when you are going to use the clay that you need it covered in masking tape?
    And if the armature has crumbled aluminium foil instead, does it also have to be completly covered in masking tape, before clay or paper strips and paste?

  • Hi, I admire you from a distance (Madrid, Spain) for some years. I took a course cartapesta and papier mache in 2000 in my native Argentina to make the scenery of a child play. Then was an administrative employee who acted on a drama workshop.
    Today, I am a housewife 50 years of age who want to launch into market their crafts. This is one of the jobs I’m running but not the first.
    Thanks for the inspiration and tutorials that allowed me to move forward at this stage of my education.
    Con cariΓ±o, Alejandra.

  • Hello Jonni! You are so incredibly talented! I am in love with the deer heads so much any chance you would do a tutorial for one? LOVE your work so much! Thank you for putting yourself out there to inspire people like me to create!

    Thanks!

  • Glad I came across this page. I am trying to get a full size horse model for the education centre at the horse rescue charity where I work. We keep missing out on ones on ebay so thought i would have a go at making one. getting some ideas and fancy having a go now after reading these pages.

  • Chicken wire is hard to mold, but I have used it. Using pliers to bend it works better than figures. I have some blood from poking myself. I did wrap it around milk jugs and/or cardboard for more strength.

  • Hi Jonni,
    I love the things you make and also your videos when you’re holding your cat. I love cats!
    What I would like to ask is what would be best to use for making a parrot head handle for an umbrella? The regular Paper Mache or the Paper Mache air dry clay? I am wanting to make it for a Mary Poppins costume and don’t know what would be best.
    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Brenda. If you need fine detail, the air dry clay would be the best way to go. If you need some detail, but you also need it to hold up to a lot of handling, then the original paper mache clay would probably be a better choice. You could use paper strips and paste, too, if you don’t need a lot of fine detail. So – it’s kind of up to you. πŸ™‚

      Be sure to let us see the umbrella handle when it’s done. And be sure to check out Rod’s parrot, which he made for a Mary Poppins play.

  • Hi Jonni, I’m just trying to make a simple volcano model for my kid’s school project. Would I need to use a base or can I just shape the paper mache clay like shaping a regular clay or dough? The volcano would be standing on a plywood.

    Thanks in advance for your response.

    • Vera, this recipe is best used in a very thin layer over an armature. Crumpled paper and masking tape would be perfect for a volcano. It takes way too long to dry if you use it solid, like real clay.

          • Should I still put paper mache on top of the armature or can I put the paper mache clay directly to cover it? Thank you so much again for your response. Sorry, for all this question since this is my first time experimenting with this πŸ™‚

            • You can use the paper mache clay right over an armature without putting regular paper mache under it. You just need a thin layer, 1/8″ to 1/4″ is all you need. It’s very strong all by itself. I can’t remember if I mentioned it before, but if you’re working with a child, you should leave out the linseed oil or replace it with mineral oil (baby oil). Kids like to get their fingers in the clay instead of spreading it with a knife, and the linseed oil has chemicals in it. πŸ˜‰

  • Hi Jonni! I wanted to tell you how amazing your work is! You have completely inspired me! Speaking of which I have been trying to make a paper mache genie lamp (about 3-4 ft tall) for a school project. I have been using chicken wire and wood to make the shape but I cant seem to get it right. Do you have any suggestions or instructions/tutorials that might help me make this. I’m kind of in a time crunch so if you could help me out as soon as possible it would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks!

    • Hi Jane. I’ve never been a fan of chicken wire because it’s so hard for me to shape it correctly. However, it might help if you put a cardboard pattern on the inside of the piece, so you have something fairly solid to use as a guide when you form the wire.

      Does anyone else have some ideas? If you use chicken wire successfully, please let us know your secret!

  • This is just brilliant. Talent is something, but what is more important is creativity…and your full of it!

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