Paper Mache Tutorials

Some of the tutorials on this site are shown below – but there are many more. (At last count, there were 400+ 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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309 Comments

  • My interest is Music Hall 1860 – 1910, I have recently purchased a papier mache
    bust of an artist from that period who is in need of a little TLC, I live in the Midlands and am looking for someone who would like to advise me, or take on the task. Thanks Malcolm

  • This is wayy to cool :] I want to learn how would you build a t-rex with paper mache? Can you give me some advice?

  • Love your site. It has inspired me to get back into creating. I have a few projects im working on and wondered if there is a final step to get the outside as smooth as possible( other than sanding ).
    Thanks for all you do 🙂

    • Hi Collin. I use a home-made gesso on my sculptures, just before painting them. The gesso can be put on in several coats, and lightly sanded between each one. Or you can use a damp sponge to “sand” the gesso, which is a lot less messy.

      If you are talking about the dips and bumps that are made when you put paper strips and paste over a crumpled paper and masking tape form, you can either smooth on a layer of joint compound, wait until it dries, use the sponge to get the layer as smooth as you want it, and then add one more layer of paper strips and paste. Or you can use the new paper mache clay recipe instead of paper strips and paste for your entire project (see the frog and butterfly tutorials to see how this is done) and then you don’t have any dips and bumps to worry about. You can use the clay instead of traditional paper mache on any of the projects shown in my tutorials.

  • Hi Jonni,

    I am a 2nd grade classroom teacher and I would like to create a life size paper mache tree for the children to sit under in our reading center. I have searched the Internet but have not found a step-by-step process on how to construct the paper mache tree. I welcome your suggestions and advice. I am a visual learner so if you could provide some pictures as well as the steps that would be very helpful.
    Thank you!

    • Hi Terri. I have never made a paper mache tree, but it seems like a popular project. I just did a Google search and found this page: http://www.aspenmurals.com/tree.html but the tree is built over an existing post.

      I think I’ll put up a post on my blog asking for suggestions for this and other projects. Maybe we can find someone who has some experience and will be willing to offer some advice.

      • I am making a tree that will be kinda 3-dimensional. It will be up against a wall so it will have 3 sides. I plan on using chicken wire, paper mache, and then the paper mache paste. I am looking for details on making the bark look real and suggestions on how to make those ridges as in the wedding tree centerpieces. I have already built a treehouse to go in it and have leaves to add for branches.

        • Hi Jacki. I didn’t make the paper mache tree that I recently posted, so you might want to put a comment on that post to ask Kt how she did the bark. I don’t think she used the paper mache clay, because she started her project before the recipe was developed. I believe she used paper towels, which scrunch up very nicely to form details like the bark on her trees. If you use the clay instead, you can use a piece of real bark for a model and form the clay into the shapes and ridges with your knife. For something that large, Kt’s method might be easier. Ask her, and see if she agrees with me.

  • Hi! I love the work that you do. I know it takes time and skill. My son has a project abot minotaur coming up and he was wanting to dress up as minotaur for his oral presentation. WIth that said he wants to do a paper mache head of minotaur to wear. I am not sure as to how to do this with a bulls head. If you could please contact me back and let me know it would be wonderful. Thank you again.

    • Hi Sara. Since a bull’s head will be somewhat heavy, I’d start with a helmet-shaped cardboard structure, like the one under my African mask, and then build up the long snout and horns with crumpled paper and masking tape. Then cover it all with paper mache. This sounds like a fun project – I hope you let us see it when your son finishes it.

  • Hello Jonni, my name is Randel, I am a 3rd grade teacher at the Jersey City Community Charter School in Jersey City,NJ. I am an avid follower of your website. Were studying dinosaurs for quite sometime now as a thematic unit of study, and the main event of our study will be our Dino museum which will highlight works of our students. One of my students suggested we build a big T-Rex (approx. 4ftx8ft including the tail) as our center piece. We started the cutting of plywood yesterday for the armature and will begin the process of putting chicken wire then masking tape tommorrow. This is going to be a challenging project for our grade level, since we never built a huge project like this before. Three classes will take turn everyday to mold this project and hopefully will come out a success. I am so thankful about the elephant video you posted. It helped us a lot in the process of making a pattern. We will send you pictures when we are done with our project. Chao!

        • Hello Jonni, first of all, congratulations! on your recently published book. I have already order several copies for gifts to my niece and friends. Such a wonderful book. My students are now done with our T-Rex. Thanks to your experience and techniques, we were able to finished a gigantic dinosaur (gigantic to our own measurement at least). We learned so much from your website and we included our dinosaur as one of our main attractions in our exhibit. Our exhibit will run until June 4, 2010. Again, many thanks.

          Paper Mache T-Rex

  • I am deciding on making a papier mache of Wall-E, but I’m not sure about what materials I should use to make his wheels. I am told to use easy materials like cardboard, tissue rolls (without tissue), scissors, tape, glue, paper, etc. What materials do you think I should use for Wall-E’s wheels?

    I was thinking cardboard for his wheel surroundings and 3 tissue rolls on the inside for the wheels. Do you think that would work?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Hi Shiky. I think your idea will work. There’s only one way to find out – give it a try and see what happens.

      (Note – the image of Wall-e was removed from the comment to avoid copyright infringement).

  • Hi, I love how informative your site is! I am starting a paper mache project today and doing something of a tree where i’m going to use brown paper. My question is, i want to have parts that are rough and sticking out (so the whole sculpture isn’t smooth) so as to emulate tree bark. Do you know of a good way to achieve this result? I was thinking about curling part of the paper and only dipping one end in the paste on the final layer. Do you think that would work? Thanks for your info!

    Kristin

    • Hi Kristin. I’ve never tried your method, but it certainly sounds like it might work. One of the best things about paper mache is the opportunity to experiment and try new things. Let us know how it turns out.

    • I use acrylic paint, but I think any medium would work. It would be interesting to see what an oil painter does with a three-dimensional “canvas” made this way.

  • Hi i’m 10 and i’m horse mad so i love the horse sculpture i was just woundering how long did it take you??? i may try make a smaller version if possible!!!!

    from emily

    • Hi Emily. The horse took me several weeks. I did a lot of experimenting while I did this horse, so be sure to read through all the posts before starting your project. I would do a few things differently if I started over. For one thing, use cardboard for the legs, instead of the plasterboard, which was a very bad idea. Tape some strong wire to the leg patterns to reinforce them. You can see how I did that when I made the paper mache clay horse for my book here.

  • I have a question about applying the paper mache clay. Is there a trick to spreading it about the armature? I’ve been using a small cup of water to dip my fingers into so it does not stick to my fingers, but i think this ends up adding a fair amount of water to my project, hence longer dry time. If i dont use water it starts really sticking to my fingers or tool, then it starts to dry and then of course sticks even more. Its not really a problem but if theres a neat little trick to this i’d love to hear it.

    thanks again. just watched your first dragon armature tutorial,, fantastic

    Mike.

    • Hi Mike. I’ll try to get the second dragon video done soon, so you can see how I add the clay. I don’t add water, but my clay seems to go on smoothly if I use the flat side of a knife. I don’t get my fingers in it, since the knife is better at making a smooth layer.

      One question, though. Are you using Elmer’s Glue-All? One reader tried the Elmer’s school glue, and she said it was really sticky. The Glue-All doesn’t seem to make sticky clay, at least mine goes on easily. I spread it out in a very thin layer, maybe 1/8″ thick.

      • Yes im using Glue-all, but i do use my fingers a lot, for spots my tool wont get into. I probably just need to practice more with which ever tool im using, most my experience is with clay and i think i picked up habits that i need to break.

        Ill be watching for the next installment of your dragon piece. I love how your armatures turn out before the paper stage starts, your are all so tidy and artsy just the way they are. I really need to slow down on armatures, its the part i enjoy the least.

        Mike

  • This is such a generous site to share the years of knowledge and expertise so freely so we can all enjoy and experiment with paper mache. I am truly inspired and cant wait to get my hands into it, thankyou!

  • My kids and I would love to try a elephant paper mache project! Can you possible tell me how to scale it down from a garden scuplture to make a book shelf decoration? Either the Asian or african would work but since the kids are 9 and 6 I think a Asian would be easier for them to work on. Thanks!

    • Hi Brooke. You can easily scale the elephant down using the baby elephant pattern, and making smaller squares in your grid. Use cardboard instead of particle board for the pattern, and then everything else would be done the same as in the elephant video. The pattern is for an Asian elephant, which has smaller ears and a different head shape than an African elephant. If you prefer an African elephant, you would need to alter the pattern, or simply draw your own.

      • Okay thanks for that! I would like to ask one more question. My son is in the middle of making a paper mache turtle for a book cover. I used styrafoam to make the circle , a ballon and masking tape for the rounded portion,a paper towel tube and styrafoam ball for the head and neck. We cover this with the flour and paste newspaper mix. Now my question is can I put it in the oven to dry if i keep it under 200 and to make a smooth piece would you say joint compound or the gesso mix? Thank you for the help!

        • Hi Brooke. I’m thinking that the balloon would expand in the oven, because that’s what air does when it heats up. It might pull your paper mache apart. But it might work. I have to admit that I just don’t have the answer to this question. The paper mache itself will be just fine in the oven – it’s just the balloon I’m worried about.

  • HI, I NEED MORE INFORMATION, PLEASE PASS YOUR FOR NUMBER .YOURS PIECES FOR SALE, I NEED THE PRICE THE BABY ELEPHANT.THANKS

    • Hello Michelle. The baby elephant is not for sale. It is much too heavy to ship. However, if you would like to commission a new one, which would be made with my new, lighter techniques, I would be glad to consider it. Please use my contact form.

  • Hey. These are really amazing! I have been interested in paper mache for quite some time but I never really had a reason to make anything until now.

    You see, I’m in a production group that’s going to be present a stageplay of Aladdin this May, and I’ve been looking for a puppet of Iago (the parrot) everywhere. After hours of searching, I stumbled upon this website and it sort of inspired me to attempt to build my own puppet using paper mache.

    If you could give me any tips or hints on my endeavor it would be greatly appreciated! Do you think paper mache is a good route to go for this? Thanks in advance!

    • Yes, paper mache would be a perfect material for your puppet. I’ve never made a puppet, so I don’t know anything about the mechanics of it. Perhaps someone else will see your comment and offer some advice.

      Have fun with it. We’d love to see it when it’s done.

      • What would be the sturdiest way to fasten cloth to the body parts? If I end up doing what I have in mind I will make the body parts separately (3-4) and keep them held together with a piece of burlap or something similar so they will be able to move freely while covering the puppeteers arm. One more thing, how many layers of paper should be applied to the surface of the piece?

        Thanks for the quick response! I will be sure to post up pictures if/when I finish the puppet.

        • Since I’ve never made a puppet, you should take any advice I give with a grain of salt. I’m sure a better source for information about this particular project would be Dan Reeder, the Monster Man. I’m pretty sure I’ve read that he’s made some puppets. But, now that you’ve been warned, here’s how I would do it:

          First, I’d use paper mache clay instead of paper strips and paste, just because it’s so much easier to get fine details. Plus, it’s faster. You can even make things like feathers that are very thin, but strong. (See photos of the paper mache clay chicken, with her tail feathers sticking out. They were made just like the wings on the butterflies.) I have not made anything hollow from the paper mache clay, but I’ll be doing some experiments soon.

          For making your cloth hinges, you could put a thin layer of clay on both pieces, then embed the cloth into the clay and cover it with another layer. I have not tried this, so I don’t know if it would work. You might need to dip the edges of the cloth into some diluted glue, to make sure it sticks to the clay.

          You could do the same thing with paper strips and paste, as long as the first layer was still wet and there’s lots of paste to come in contact with the cloth.

          I hope this helps, at least a little. But, as I said, this is all theoretical…

        • Hey there! Sorry it’s been so long, I’ve been meaning to show you my final product for a long time now. It turned our great. The entire head is paper mache, beak included. I went over it once in clay and and whole lot of times with spackle, sanded then painted it. The body is paper mache too with a big hole in the middle for your arm. I glued felt to the head and torso then made wings out of foam. The feet are regular store bought clay. Thanks for the tips!

          Costumes for Play

            • What a surprise! I was searching the internet for tips on papier mache projects for an upcoming play at my school…and stumbled across your site. Scrolling thru the page I see posts about Aladdin and Iago…only to realize from the picture that this was OUR musical this past spring! You are the person that helped us create that fantastic Iago parrot, and yes, the show was a fantastic success!

              Now we are planning for “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe” and need a life size stone statue of a sleeping wolf and a very large stone statue of a lion. Your video on the Baby Elephant may be the solution we need. Any other ideas or tips?

            • Hi Kim. I’m glad your last play was a success – the parrot was definitely a winner.

              I don’t know if you’ve seen the new paper mache recipe – it would be perfect for a faux-stone statue. In fact, you could color the clay a light gray, and you may not even need to paint the statues when they’re dry.

              If you don’t think anyone will sit on your wolf or lion, you can use cardboard inside instead of the particle board that I used for the elephant. The elephant weighs about 40 pounds – a big problem if you need to move things around. I’m using cardboard inside the owl that I’m currently working on – you can see the process of making the pattern on the first snowy owl post. You can use exactly the same techniques to make your big “stone” statues.

              Good luck with your play. I hope it’s a huge success.

  • wow, you are trully an artist thanks for sharing your art with others, they are all so beautiful and impressive, it’s hard to believe they are made out of paper mache.
    My son has to do a science project and wants to step out side the box, he wants to try and replicate a Gamma Ray Burst out of paper mache. Any suggestions?

    Thanks, Ruth

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