Paper Mache – for Beautiful Sculptures and Masks

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Used Jonni’s pattern to make a mask for a Safari theme day at my workplace. No one believed I made it until I showed them the inside where my Shreddies boxes showed LOL. Our team used this mask and some cardboard monkey masks to set the scene for the theme day.

Karen Norris

Latest Paper Mache Tutorials:

I’ve used [your paper mache clay] recipe countless times for many years, it’s the best modeling medium I’ve ever tried. Dries hard as a rock and allows for some great detail. I’ve had to break a piece off of a piece of metal and I literally had to whack it with a hammer as hard as I could a few times to get it loose. Thank you so much for inspiring my creativity!!

Dalet Bet

Masks and Sculptures Made by Our Readers:

427 thoughts on “Paper Mache – for Beautiful Sculptures and Masks”

  1. Hi Jonni,
    Several years ago I spent the summer making polymer clay sculptures with my kids. I had so much fun that I ended up making a life-sized sculpture of a Witch head and hands that I attached to a makeshift body. I dressed it up and put it in our yard for Halloween. I was really happy with the way it turned out, but polymer clay is very fragile and my witch hasn’t survived well. I’ve been wanting to try the project again in a different material. After watching your videos I think paper mache might be a good solution. I thought I might try the method shown in your ‘pot head’ videos for the face and hands where I need more details. But I wonder if you think something else might work better, and what method you would suggest for making the body. I plan to make an armature out of cardboard and to put actual clothes, wig, etc. on it once it’s finished. Any guidance you could give would be appreciated. Thanks!

    Reply
  2. Hey! Have you ever used this for light fixtures? ( or talked with anyone in your community who has?) I’m curious about the flammability— if there are any suggestions on that.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • I haven’t tried using it for light shades, but quite a few people have asked me about it. So far, I don’t think we’ve heard from anyone who’s tried it. If you use LED lights and the wiring is done correctly, it might be just fine. There are videos on YouTube by people who use various forms of paper mache for light shades. If you make one and test it somehow, please let us know what you find out.

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    • Most cardboard boxes will work, but different thicknesses work best for specific things. I live in a small town with few stores, so I get a lot of boxes from Amazon.com. They work well for the patterns I put inside sculptures, and for the wolf and lion mask pattern. I use a lot of cereal box cardboard for the other mask patterns, and I don’t eat much cereal – so I buy 500 sheets of chipboard from Uline. You can also buy 25 sheets from amazon.com.

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      • If you go by any one of the family stores
        Find out when the trash man picks up the garbage.
        Just go by there the day before and ask them.
        They will most likely let you go and get what you want.

        You might find some other things that they threw out.
        Just saying

        Lori

        Reply
  3. With your silky-smooth air dry clay, what if you don’t have a scale that measures in grams? Can you just follow the recipe closely, getting out as much water from the tp as possible, and then follow the rest of the recipe and go by feel?

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      • Thanks Jonni. I have been using your method for paper mâché using a pattern (well sort of) and then bulking out with aluminum foil. I didn’t think it was going to work that well but it really did. I made a Sugar Glider and was somewhat disappointed that it wasn’t real smooth but as I look at it the coarseness looks like fur so I am happy. I will post a pic of my Sugar Glider. He, she turned out really cute, or so I think. I will use your silky-smooth recipe soon. This is such a wonderful outlet and web site. Thank you again.

        Reply
  4. I just used a brush to apply joint compound as the final layer on my piece. It works for small areas where a spatula just can’t get. But the spatula works great for smoothing out those dips. I’ll know more when I use a damp sponge to ‘sand’.

    Reply
    • I don’t think I’ve ever tried putting something with a thin layer of joint compound in the oven – but it dries pretty fast if you just put it in front of a fan. It will crack if you use a layer that’s too thick – it is intended to be used in a paper-thin layer on walls, and that’s how I use it to smooth out my masks, too. If it does crack, you can just dampen it again and spread it out, or apply another thin layer over the cracks – but if it’s put on thinly it doesn’t usually crack.

      Reply
  5. Hi guys, just a little reminder. If you want to use your sculptures outside and finish them with fiberglass resin remember that resin even the odorless one is extremely dangerous to your lungs and overall health. Please, please use chemical fume mask, gloves and a heavy apron. Do it outdoors and be very carefull. Extremely toxic!!

    Reply
  6. Hi guys, just a little reminder. If you want to use your sculptures outside and finish them with fiberglass resin remember that resin even the odorless one is extremely dangerous to your lungs and overall health. Please, please use chemical fume mask, gloves and a heavy apron. Do it outdoors and be very carefull. Extremely toxic!!

    Reply
  7. My brother is making paper mache easter eggs for his two children. He has made the eggs but is a little stumped about how to deal with decorating him. I told him I would ask you. He wants to add hand drawn pencil drawings every year to the eggs but also wants them to be water proof and durable in the mean time. Do you have any suggestions about what medium to use that will cover and protect the eggs and existing drawings but also allow him to add drawings over time?

    Reply
    • That’s a very challenging question, Kristen. If he uses a satin or gloss varnish the pencil will just slide over it. However, a matte varnish might work. I’d suggest asking your question on the Daily Sculptors page – One of my regular readers might have a much better answer than I can give you. I’ve never tried doing what he wants to do, but it sounds like a fantastic idea!

      Reply
  8. I have a paper mache floor standing snowman with a jumper, and scarf on I saved from the skip his is a little over 2ft high. My son would love one the same and I want to make one, but how would I begin to make the armature? Iv seen no good tuitorials. Thanks

    Reply
  9. Hello, love, love , love your work!!! Just discovered this wonderful website. Was watching the Gnome videos this morning. Can’t wait to get the “Make Animal Sculptures” and “How to make Masks!” books! Was wondering if you have ever experimented with this product call Pal Tiya for your outdoor sculptures. Was noticing that people using this stuff would make armatures and then cover them with aluminum foil because it actually needs the foil to adhere.

    Reply
      • That is so cool! Must admit a little nervous, when the books get here planning to attempt that black and white pig. He is beautiful!!! One of my co workers retired last year, she collects pig figurines and loves pig themed items. Hope to send her something ( hopefully!! ) similar to yours in May! Gives me enough time to fail and then hopefully get it right! LOL!

        Thank you!

        Reply
  10. I think it is grand that Jonni has donated her Hound to the silent auction for the Brookings Regional Humane Society. A cause I think the Hound appreciates.

    May the wining donation be a member of Ultimate Paper Mache. That would be wonderful.

    Well done Jonni.

    Reply
  11. Just one question. Is it a good idea to make pure clay masks using your paper mache clay? I was thinking of making masks to wear, as well as use for decor that were made of air dry clay, but I’m hesitant that this method would fall apart, or be too heavy to wear.

    Reply
    • That’s a good question, Alexis. I don’t make masks that would put paper mache clay next to the face. It might be strong enough, but it’s also hard as a rock. It’s really difficult to make it smooth enough to wear comfortably. It’s best to put a layer or two of paper strips and paste down first, and then add a paper-thin layer of the paper mache clay to make it stronger and to add details.

      Reply
      • Thank you. I was going to get crayola clay and a 9$ 5-pack paper mask kit off amazon, but then I stumbled across your videos on youtube. Not only would your way be cheaper, I’m thinking it would last longer than my original idea. I will definitely be posting pictures when I am done.

        Reply

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