Paper Mache Tutorials

Some of the tutorials on this site are shown below – but there are many more. (At last count, there were 53 tutorials, with more coming all the time). To see all the paper mache tutorials on the blog, click here. And to see all of the other posts on this site (over 200 and counting) click here. You can also download the free Practical Paper Mache ebook, which was created by readers of this blog, here.

Paper Mache Clay Tutorials

Paper Mache Clay Frog:

Paper Mache Clay Frog

Paper Mache Clay Frog

Paper Mache Clay Butterflies:

Paper Mache Clay Butterflies

Paper Mache Clay Butterflies

Paper Mache Clay Snowman:

Paper Mache Clay Snowman

Paper Mache Clay Snowman

Traditional Paper Mache Tutorials:

Life-Sized Baby Elephant Sculpture:

Large Paper Mache Baby Indian Elephant

Large Paper Mache Baby Indian Elephant

Paper Mache Bluebirds:

Paper Mache Bluebirds

Paper Mache Bluebirds

Paper Mache Piggy Bank

Paper Mache Piggy Bank

Paper Mache Piggy Bank

Paper Mache Baby Sperm Whale Wall Hanging

Paper Mache Whale Wall Hanging

Paper Mache Whale Wall Hanging

Paper Mache Orangutan Mask

Paper Mache Orangutan Mask

Paper Mache Orangutan Mask

African Ceremonial Mask

African Ceremonial Mask

African Ceremonial Mask

Paper Mache Dragon

Paper Mache Dragon

Paper Mache Dragon

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Bunny

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Bunny

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Bunny

Paper Mache Rabbit Sculpture

Paper Mache Rabbit Sculpture

Paper Mache Rabbit Sculpture

Paper Mache Panda Sculpture

Paper Mache Panda Sculpture

Paper Mache Panda Sculpture

Paper Mache Long-Beaked Echidna Sculpture

Paper Mache Long-Beaked Echidna Sculpture

Paper Mache Long-Beaked Echidna Sculpture

Paper Mache Horse Sculpture (see links below)

Paper Mache Horse Sculpture

Paper Mache Horse Sculpture

This last tutorial is a series of posts showing my progress with a fairly complicated and advanced animal sculpture that took two weeks to complete. To read the posts from first to last, follow these links:

Seasonal Decorations:

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Christmas Tree Ornaments

Valentines Day Bouquet

Valentines Day Bouquet

Be sure to also check out the many other tutorials and posts on this site.

If you have any questions about any of the tutorials, or just want to sound off, please remember to leave a comment. Your comments make this blog much more fun for me to create.

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297 Comments

  • Hi Jonni-
    I have recently gave birth to my son and while I was pregnant I did a paper mache cast of my belly and bust. Problem is the bust is detaching from the belly portion as the paper while drying did not get a good bond. Do you know of any way I could repair the bust to the belly? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Diana

    • If there’s a split between the upper and lower portions of the cast, I think the easiest way to tie them together again would be with plaster cloth. You will want to wait until the paper mache is entirely dry.

      When the paper mache is dry, get a roll of plaster cloth from the hobby store and lay the two pieces – upside down – on a table. Use a few pieces of tape to keep them together at the seam while you’re working, and then add two layers of dampened plaster cloth right over the seam, working rather quickly. You’ll need to turn them over before the plaster cloth is entirely set, so the two pieces sit flat on a table. That way, when the plaster cloth is hard, the back will lie flat against a wall, if you want to hang it. You may need to use a few pieces of paper strips and paste over the broken seam once the plaster cloth is set, to repair the front side of the casting.

      Of course, the water in the plaster cloth will seep into the paper mache, so you’d need to be careful to not let the paper mache slump before the plaster cloth is hard. It would be challenging, but I think you can save your casting.

  • hello, i am now planning making a paper mache mask using balloon as the base, can i cover only the half of the balloon? because i only need one mask , can I ? thanks love this site

    • Yes, that should work. You might put the balloon in a bowl, so it won’t jump around while you’re working on, and then just cover one side. Be sure to let us see the mask when it’s done! :)

  • Hi Jonni you inspired me to start paper mache. I bought your book but I have not made anything because I have no been able to get styrofoam . I did make the echidna It came out good used pine needles instead of toothpicks. I need more more ideas I like animals but I want to do whimsical stuff. I have looked all over the net and found some stuff like standing mice/rats. Can you tell me if there is any books at the library for my kind of ideas. Thanks you my life is just alot more fun. I’m a stay at home grandmother and I needed just a little something of my own to do on my off time weekends. It’s only been a month since i picked up paper mache. One more thing why do i see people useing just glue and not flour in their p.m It looks alot more smoother.

    • Hi Debbie. Pine cones sound a lot less painful than the toothpicks I used for my echida. Good thinking! For a book with whimsical ideas, I really like Paper Sculpture: Over 25 Cute and Quirky Paper Mache Projects by James C. Cochrane. I think it’s only available through the UK version of amazon, but they seem to get to you right away. (I bought two, and gave them both away. I’ll probably buy another one.)

      As for paste and glue choices, it’s really a matter of personal preference. I like the flour and water paste just because I don’t like the feel of the glue on my hands. But the glue doesn’t leave white marks on the outside of the paper, which is nice.

  • Bit of an unusual question but I am making papier mache cones, as containers for fir cones I have soaked in different chemicals, to make coloured flames when set on fire. (Christmas presents for people with open fires/barbecues). The idea is that when the fir cones are gone, you could even burn the paper cones, so I have made them with a flour/salt/water paste (which may also spark different colours when burnt). I would like to paint them but want to use something that is safe to burn. Any suggestions?

    • Many paints, including watercolors, have pigments that can be toxic. I wouldn’t want to burn anything containing cadmium, for instance. But I’m not a chemist so I’m probably not the right one to help you with this. Perhaps the non-toxic tempera paints for kids?

  • Hi Jonni,
    i want to make a costume for my 3 year old for a fancy dress competition. I intend to dress him as a pineapple. I planned to do paper mache over a plastic barrel which i have cut off on both ends so it can hang around him, i am a complete novice with paper mache.. how should i go about with it? i live in India and the local hardware stores dont have anything called joint compound. Also if i used layers of paper will it become too heavy . I dont intend to remove the plastic barrel. do give me some guidance as to how i should go about with my project. thanks, shalini

  • Hi Jonni,

    I want to make a peacock body with paper mache and put real feathers to it. I want to make little bigger body so i can put long tail falling down. Can you please give me suggestions how to make the body with some support.

    Thanks in advance
    Sree

    • Hi Sree. I think you can make your peacock like I made my snowy owl, but with a much longer neck. Since the tail will come down to the floor, it should be easy to make two legs out of wire covered with paper mache, and then also add a third wire loop that goes from the back end of the bird down to the floor, to act as a third support. That should hold up your bird quite well.’

      I do hope you’ll show him to us when it’s done.

    • Any other brand will work. I like the Sheetrock brand, but it really doesn’t matter, as long as it isn’t made by Dap. Their product works great on walls, but it turns into rubber when you try to use it in paper mache clay.

  • Hello and thank you so very very much for this wonderful site. My kids and I have had so much fun making things that you have taught us.

    I would really like to make some yard sculptures. I have kids and they have friends. So it is a guarantee that these will be climbed on. Can you offer any advice in that?

    I wonder if this is the best medium or if I should use something else.

    Any advice from your treasure trove of a mind would be greatly appreciated!

    • Hi Oz. I redently ordered a product that might help us make outdoor sculptures, but it hasn’t arrived yes so I don’t know yet if it will work. (I’ll keep everyone posted). Meanwhile, Rich has been telling us about his experience with waterproofing Monster Mud. I don’t have any personal experience with Monster Mud, so I don’t know if his system would work with traditional paper mache or with the paper mache clay, but it would be worth experimenting with. At the moment, I can’t say with a solid “for sure” that I know how to protect paper mache completely weatherproof, so I usually recommend using concrete instead. Paper mache would be so much easier, but I’d hate to be responsible for you spending weeks on a project that turned into a mountain of moldy goo… 😉

  • Hi,

    First of all, I love your website, there are some beautiful sculptures and your tutorials are very clear. I’m a complete novice at all this and it’s given me encouragement to have a go!

    I have a question which relates to a mini-project I was thinking of undertaking. I’m attending a fancy dress party in a few weeks and my idea for a costume includes horns which would be ‘stuck’ to my head. I think I can use your recipe for paper mache clay to make the horns, but can you make any recommendations for how I might stick the finished items to my head? I was thinking of sticking something like fabric or latex to the bottom of the horns with super glue or similar, then using make up adhesive to stick the whole thing to my scalp. Does this sound sensible? Or do you think there is some way I could apply the horns directly to my scalp without an extra layer?

    Any and all advice welcomed!

    Thanks,

    Chris

    • Hi Chris. If you use super glue to add the horns to your head, you will need to go to the emergency room to have the horns removed. That isn’t something I would advise.

      I think if I was making horns to wear, I’d put them on a paper mache helmet rather than trying to stick them on my head in any way. Or you might be able to cut down a baseball cap and attach the horns to it, then keep the hat on your head with ties that go under your chin with perhaps another one across the back of your head to keep them from slipping forward. If you really have to have all your hair showing, you could maybe attach the horns to strips of cloth that would be hidden under the hair. Go ahead and use super glue to attach the horns to fabric or a paper mache helmet, but puleeeeeze don’t try to use it on your own head.

      • Hi Jonni,

        There’s no way I’d use super glue on my own head, I’m not too keen on perma-horns! 😀

        I should clarify slightly. I’m planning to shave my head and apply make-up to it, and have the horns blended into the look. So ideally I don’t want a head-piece of any kind as it’ll spoil the effect. I was thinking that if I used latex glue of the type used to stick fake beards, etc. to skin then it might work, but adhesion to the paper mache clay itself might be a problem. This is where I was curious about using another material as a medium, such as rubber or latex, but I have no clue about what does and doesn’t play well with the clay. The horns will only protrude around 5cm so I don’t expect weight to be an issue. Any further help is welcomed, and thank you for getting back to me so quickly!

        Regards,

        Chris

        • Whew – that’s a relief. Thanks for the clarification.

          About the other issue, though, I think the best source would be a forum where a lot of movie special effects and latex mask-making people show up. Those guys do stuff like this all the time. When you figure it out, please come back and let us know what works. Good luck with it.

          • Hi Jonni,

            I’ve begun work on my horns – the clay was really easy to make and very workable! The first batch I made are a little to ’rounded’ for my liking – the effect I was hoping to achieve was like jagged talons or teeth protruding from my head. Do you have any tips for how best to form the armature? I used a plastic horned mask, by covering the horns in tin foil and then applying the clay over the top. I then took the whole lot off the mask and did some more moulding with my fingers and small tools, but I wasn’t too sure how to make it more ‘sharp’!

            Also, on a related note, when it comes to painting them do you have any tips? I’m after a yellow-brown kind of colour with a slightly shiny/polished finish, so I thought about tea-staining the clay, then touching it up with paint and then sealing with clear nail varnish, mainly because all of those materials are ‘to hand’ and I’m trying to complete this on a budget. Do you think that would work?

            Once again, thanks in advance for anything you can offer.

            Chris

          • Can you add a bit more clay and form it into a sharper point?

            If you want a smooth finish, you might want to use the very smooth gesso recipe I came up with for my how to make masks book.

            1 tablespoon (15 ml) white glue
            ½ teaspoon (2 ml) cold water
            ¼ teaspoon (1 ml) vinegar
            ½ tablespoon (7.5 ml) plaster of Paris

            You have to work a bit fast because it starts to harden in about 15 minutes. If it still isn’t as smooth as you like, you can polish it with lightly damp sponge.

            Your idea for coloring the horns sound like it will work quite well. The fingernail polish will give off a lot of fumes if you use enough for the horns, but it will work just fine.

  • Yes, I think we could add a hanger with epoxy glue…I was just worried it might damage the paper mache’. We want to angle the turtle and I was concerned that the weight might eventually pull a chunk out of the piece.

    I also thought about drilling a small hole into the chest/neck area, putting a screw-type of small hanger in there and filling that up with glue.

    It seems very well made and I may be anxious for no good reason, just not familiar with this type of art. We paid quite a bit of money for it (and now seeing your tutorials, I think I could do this…nonetheless) I don’t want to damage it.

    Please let me know what you think. I am ever so grateful for this forum!

    Julie

    • Is the turtle hollow? If so, is there a way to put a piece of wood or a metal strap inside that you could attach a cord to, so all the weight wasn’t on two holes? The wider the area that is affected by the hangers, the less likely anything will break or crack. Of course, paper mache is quite strong and light. so you may have no problem with cracking. If the paper mache is thick enough, your screw-in hangers might work just fine.

  • Hi,

    We bought a large paper mache sea turtle. It is beautiful and we’d like to hang it on our screen porch, however it needs another hanger added to it to hang correctly. The only way to hang this now is from its tail straight down. We’d like to add the hanger to its chest so we can angle it on the wall. Is there anyway to attach an extra loop or wall hanger on it?

    It’s length is 30″; the width of its flippers is 46″ and it weighs about 5 lbs.

    Thanks for you advice.

    Julie

    • Julie, would it be possible to add a metal hanger with epoxy glue? This is not my area of expertise – perhaps a local picture frame store would have a good idea for you.

  • I am going to make a life size American Bison head and chest, using your mache clay. I think I will use wire for the base upon which I will put the clay. Because of its large size, how thick should the sides be to be stable and yet still be light enough to hang on a wall?

    I will send photos and let you all know how it gos. Thanks for the help.

    • Michael, the clay is really strong, so 1/4 inch should be plenty. You may even be able to get away with less. Do a small experimental piece first, perhaps just a flat disk spread over plastic wrap, so you can get a feel for it.

      Also, check out this comment we also got today on another page. Dixie makes grandfather clocks with the clay, so she may have a more accurate answer for you. I haven’t made any large wall pieces with the material myself.

  • Hi,

    I’m in the midst of a project restoration and I have several older and newer paper mache rabbits that have lost their glass eyes. Can you tell me the best way to insert the glass eye so it doesn’t fall out?

    Thank you.

  • I have two antique paper mache Christmas Angels (approximately 30″ X 14″). One has a wing that is separating from the body, and I need to find a way to repair it, or to find a professional who can repair it. Any ideas?? I can submit a photo if it woill help.

    • Is the crack wide enough to get some carpenter’s or Elmer’s glue into it? If so, and if the shape allows you to clamp it together until the glue is dry, that might hold it. Gorilla glue would work, too. You would still have a line showing the original problem, though. If your angels are important, either for sentimental or financial reasons, you might want to call the closest art museum to see if they can recommend someone who specializes in restoring art.

  • I’m working on a window display for a bookstore and need some advice. The concept is a “forest of stories.” I’ve collected 7 nine foot branches that I plan to display like tree trunks in the window but I want them completely covered in torn out pages of old novels. So the look like trees made up of stories. Can any one recomend a way to go about doing this? It needs to be cost effective.

    • I just now found a tutorial that shows how to add book pages to a bottle – not quite what you’re looking for, but she seems to be having no problems with the pages turning transparent and showing the letters from the reverse side. She uses Mod Podge for her paste. It’s a bit expensive, I think, so you might experiment with diluted Elmer’s to see if it works. The dampened paper should easily conform to the shape of your branches if you tear the paper into small enough pieces.

      Good luck with your project. We’d love to see it when it’s done.

  • Hi there Jonni,

    My name is Jacquie and I recently saw your elephant tutorial on youtube! Great job!! It looks amazing! I was wondering if you would have some tips for me. At my job we have an incentive to go to california at the end of the year if we reach our sales goals. As a keyholder I was thinking that I would create a somewhat light weight airplane out of paper mache, or perhaps some other product, that I would be able to make somewhat realistic to put the associates goals and pictures on the windows. What do you think, would paper mache be a good product? I noticed your elephant had a lot of weight to it and I was kind of thinking of something not so heavy, is there a way to do that?
    Thank you:) Jacquie

    • Hi Jacquie. You can certainly use paper mache for your airplane. I would suggest that you make the form out of Styrofoam instead of the plywood and crumpled paper that I used for the elephant – I’m sure your coworkers aren’t going to try to sit on the airplane. Use glue and tape to put together a foam airplane shape, and then cover it with paper mache, and paint it. It should look great, and it would be light enough to move around when you need to.

  • Hi!

    I’m preparing to start my first paper mache project. I’ve been thinking and planning for some time, but I’m not sure of a few things and was wondering if you could shed some light for me.

    I wanted to build a computer. So I’m wondering… how much heat can paper mache withstand?

    I also would need to “build” it in parts and assemble them, but always being able to unassemble and reassemble them easily (hinges?). What is best to use to fasten two paper mache objects together? Or is there a way to use regular screws?

    Any thoughts, ideas comments are greatly appreciated.

    Great site, keep up the good work!
    Squalle

    • Squalle, I have no experience at all in making a paper mache computer-holding box. It sounds like you really want something like particle board or Masonite, but you are trying to get paper mache to act like one of those materials, instead. Computers do get really hot, and paper burns – so does plywood, or any other carbon-based material. I have to say that I have real doubts about the feasibility of this project. I really don’t want you to burn down your house.

  • Hi Jonni

    I like making monsters out of paper mache myself. But your bunny sculpture actually made me go ” awwww, so cute.” Thanks for helping us realize there’s more to paper mache than balloons and newspaper stripes. Bloody good job!

  • Dear Jonni, I wanted to share with you an idea that I have for Christmas gifts this year..we are from Texas but most of my extended family lives back in Georgia..all of my little great nieces and nephews are fascinated with Texas…so this year I am going to attempt to sculpt a little Longhorn..with a Texas flag painted on it’s side…using your paper mache technique..I was able to make a passable Georgia bulldog so this will be my next attempt…I’m thinking of making a mold so that I can reproduce the sculpture instead of making all new ones…havent tried that..but nothing ventured nothing gained…thanks for your website…Ive learned so much from you..nonna

  • Dear Jonni, What an inspiration you are! I shall be making your bluebirds for my Christmas tree this year. Many thanks,
    Best regards, Sally

  • hi joni i ove all the work because its fun easy and chea ive been doing paper mache masks for about 4 months now and currently making one for halloween
    i was wondering if you knew any other way to make paper mache clay because i cant find any borax thank you

    • Whenever I try to learn something about molds (or re-learn it, since I don’t do it very often) I watch the videos on the Smooth-On site, and then do a search for more home-made videos on YouTube. It isn’t a difficult process, but depending on the kind of material you’re using, there are usually some important steps to follow.

      Good luck – and be sure to let us see what you make with your molds!

  • Hello, Jonni,
    I was looking up the link you give to ‘Activa Li-Qua-Ché Pourable Papier Maché’ – for making paper mâché ornaments and Dionysus, but found there is a page/link error. Blick ask to report it to you in case you are unaware of it. Also, when you paste the substance name at Blick, it registers as not known.

    I have Googled ‘Activa Li-Qua-Ché Pourable Papier Maché’ and found other references to ‘Celluclay’, etc.

    Sorry to have to be ‘the messenger’ but I hope this helps you.
    Elizabeth

  • Jonni-

    I found your website by sure LUCK!… LOL… I am a photographer and well honestly buying photography props from a photography supply store is well OUCH!!! on the pocket book if you know what I mean. So I have taken it upon myself to make a photo prop that I seen and have been wanting… Helps when you have an Artistic mind and can make things. So I am making the bottom half of a cracked open egg shell for a baby to be posed in. I tired to do you paper mache clay and well it didnt work out to well for me but the Joint Compound mades a great bonding agent.

    Have a wonderful day and cant wait to see more.
    Hugs
    Nona

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