Paper Mache Holiday Projects

Make a Hummingbird Ornament with Paper Mache Clay

I had a lot of fun today, making this little hummingbird. I would have made a whole tree’s worth, but my little rented cottage isn’t big enough for a Christmas tree. I think I’ll keep him around, and hang in my kitchen window.

I made this guy really fast, so I didn’t pay much attention to getting the wing details right, or making the colors authentic. It came close, and a dozen of them on a tree would look really nice – but you might want to go a bit slower and be more careful. If you happen to have some metallic paint, be sure to use it. I think that would look a lot nicer than the metallic wax I happened to have on hand.

Since a recipe of paper mache clay will make enough for 20 or thirty of these, you have several choices. You can make lots, or you could invite friends over and have a hummingbird party – or you could just cut the recipe in half. If you want to use my pattern for the hummingbird ornament, you’ll find it down below the video.

When I was making this hummingbird, I remembered that I made a tutorial several years ago for butterflies, and they’re made almost exactly the same way. A tree with both butterflies and hummingbirds would be really nice, don’t you think? You can find the butterfly tutorial here.

Hummingbird Ornament Pattern

Hummingbird Ornament Pattern – you may need to play around a bit with your computer to get it to print the right size.

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About the author

Jonni Good

I'm a sculptor, author, gardener, and grandma. When I'm not catering to the needs of my obnoxious cat, I make videos, create stuff, and play around with paper mache. I'm also the author of several highly-rated books on paper mache. You'll find them in the sidebar, and on amazon.com

44 Comments

    • Hi Reo. If you tried to send us a photo of your hummingbird, I hope you’ll try again. The image may have been too big for the system.

  • I see a lot of happy people used your tutorial, and I wanted to show you mine! I was worried, when I made my clay it was very stiff, more like Play dough than your creamy mixture. But it was so much fun to work with, I gave it a go anyway and am I glad I did!

  • Tried this before but having technology issues…. thanks so much for the information and inspiration! My 10 year old son and I are having a great time!

  • Hello!
    I happened upon one of your paper mâché recipes a few days ago on Pinterest. I’ve been working my way around your site in bits and snatches and I find it very inspiring! I did some paper mâché a long time ago, but with the ideas you have shared think that I would like it better. I wanted to make some kind of bird for our tree this year and had not settled to anything so finding your Hummer was just perfect! My 10 year old son and I had a lovely afternoon yesterday working on our birds. I must confess to being very slow and it took ages and I’d only finished 5 armatures. Later I thought I’d try to do one more before bed and digressed(if you can see the little round bird, the dog and the snowman….oh yeah and some butterflies….) this morning though I hit on a technique that made the hummingbird go faster for me that is to sort of mold the sides in my hands first then sandwich them around the paper body shape and wrap them with a little sheet of foil, then I did the head the same way! I got them down to 15 minutes doing this and was much relieved! I was thinking I might not make my goal of 10! So ready for the next step- now
    I’m just hoping I can do it! Thanks so much for your generous sharing of technique and experience! Thanks to you we’ll have a great memory!

      • Yes! I mean, I hope so- and gift a few, if I am happy with them. We will start the next step after school today, I can hardly wait!

  • Dear Jonni,
    I have recently found your videos on youtube and I’m amazed at how many creative ideas you have. Because first you must get it! Simply incredible and beautiful. This is a real inspiration to me. I am now off for two years, figures from cardboard into 3D nachzugestalten.Es is a constant development times … it goes faster and sometimes it just takes some time. I’m just as long on the search for a cardboard recipe and now I have found it on your page. I was very happy about it. Now I am just going to try this and see how far I get. Thank you that you exist and let others have participated.

    Greetings from Germany / Hamburg sends you

    daggi Krings

  • I am trying to make a PM bird body and going to put feathers, sequence, etc. I have a model to follow. It is really just the shape of a small robin. I found it at a second hand store and it is beautiful and want to make them to give as gifts. What type of PM recipe would you recommend and what form? I was considering using styrofoam balls or even masking tape, but I am in the experimental phases and am looking for expert advice. Also, not sure what type of recipe to use to create a smooth and textered surface? After reading your site, it appears I can use really any kind of acrylic paint I would like to achieve whatever look I want.

  • I am preparing lessons for making Paper Mache birds and I found your tutorial. I have searched for several days and I am so happy to have found your website. Your work is unlike any Paper Mache I have seen before and it is absolutely beautiful! Your tutorials will help me to provide my students with instructions for finishing our beautiful birds tomorrow!
    Thanks Kindly, Melodie Floyd

  • Hi Ms. Jonni:

    I am wondering what the quickest way is to dry a bowl that I made using a real bowl for a form. I am anxious to begin painting it, but it just doesnt seem to want to dry. We live in north Florida and it is very humid here. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated! And, thank you for the inspiration!

  • Hi Jonnie, thanks so much for doing this bird, it got me inspired to do some art work, nothing had been working, all my mojo had gone and this was just what i needed to get motivated.
    They did look much better in person than they do in the pic, they owls did look quite good, but just could not get a pic that did not make their eyes look weird. I made heaps of the Blue Wrens for my family for xmas (we make instead of buy).
    I hope 2013 is everyone wants it to be.

    • Hi Chris. Your birds came out great – I love the colors on the wren. (And owls do have weird eyes – it’s in their nature.) You must have had a beautiful tree this year.

  • Just finished painting my hummingbird-now I am working on a lab puppy bank. Downloaded your book on my kindle-thanks for all your information and papermache clay (I made the original because I didn’t have the powder clay)

        • Well it started out like your pig…but then he took on the look of a dog…I let it talk to me I guess : ) The eyes are such a challenge my clay is really soft which is nice…spreading like frosting but it is hard to get the eyes to take shape. I am letting them dry out a little then will try to reshape them.

  • Hi Jonni:

    I have had fun this week making the hummingbird. Thanks for the inspiration.

    I need advice as my paper clay always turns out very rough. I don’t want to sand it as I have a lung disease and need to avoid dust. I did cover it with quite thick Gesso but it is not as smooth as I would have preferred. Do you have any tips for me?

    • Your hummingbird turned out really nice. For the clay, you might try reducing the amount of paper in the mix. Start out with about half of the amount the recipe calls for, mix really well with all the other ingredients, and if it seems like you need more, add a bit at a time until you get a nice smooth mix. It would be worth trying, anyway. Let us know how it turns out.

  • Hi Jonni,
    Here’s my hummingbird–pre paper mache clay. I’ve never made these little armatures before, but your tutorial on how to make them was fun and easy to follow. I’ll send you a pic when he’s done…and I’ll fill you in on my adventures on finding the closest thing to joint compound in Yerevan, Armenia. Cheers! D.

    • Dagny, if you can’t find the ingredients for paper mache clay, you could use a few layers of traditional paper and paste. It won’t look exactly the same, but it would still turn out really nice.

  • the last comment in parentheses were to indicate that three of the flowers were actually glass. I shad salvaged them from a damaged feeder I had from the previous season. sorry

  • Gladly. the trumpet-shaped flowers are formed by taking a square of aluminun foil, folding diagonally to form a triangle, repeat by folding that triangle in half again. As you bring the two approaching edges together, crimp the two edges together to form a cone. The aluminum cone is malleable enough to shape into the desired shape. I then used the paper clay mixture to apply two thin coats (on the inside & outside) to form my paintable surface. The leaves were also made using aluminun foil as my armiture; I thread, then twist, tie-wire through the base of the leaf (leaving two ends that I can then twist around the heavy wire stems to form my branching) and apply paper clay as I did for the flowers.

    (they are actually glass from a salvaged hummingbird feeder that had broken)

  • Hi Jonni,
    It seems like ages since I checked out your site, but now I’m back form the bush I will have to get sculpting again! Love the humming bird tutorial its give me lots of ideas-keep up the good work and thanks again for a great site-always inspiring!

  • Jonni,
    I just recently finished a piece that utilized the same techniques you discussed in this post. I used almost the identical pieces that you highlighted (only on a larger scale). What a great idea you pose for a uniquely decorated tree; all hummers would be very impressive. Thank you for the continued motivation you provide to so many of us out here as we seek to use paper mache’ to create. Thanks again for sharing your wealth of knowledge & experinces!

  • Thanks so much for your charming tutorial, hummingbirds are so sweet, even when they are chasing each other. However when I was a little girl I found 2 that had fought so hard they had pierced each other and apparently died from this, so sad, can still remember crying and telling my Mom, some 56 years ago!!

    • Oh, that is sad. It’s amazing that something so tiny and so pretty can also have a violent side – probably not a lesson your parents wanted you to have at such a young age. They are a lot of fun to watch, though, aren’t they – like little flying jewels.

  • Wow that is so neat! Thanks so much for the tutorial – gave me so many ideas of birds I want to make just knowing the method. You are so generous with your talent.

  • Jonni,
    You are truely an inspiration to this world, a Blessing and I enjoy your posts, your site so very much. I love the idea’s you have and how you show each step along the way. Thanks for all you do…..JIM

  • This is such a serendepitous posting…..I just found your Paper Mache formula on pinterest today. The reason I was looking for said clay was because I have a desire to make a hummingbirds head onto a pinecone as body and pine needles as wings. And here you have a hummingbird ornament…..right here tonight. Not even 4 hours after I found you. Now that is not just an “oops we bumped into one another”. That’s fate. How fun it that?????
    Oma Linda

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