Patterns make it easy to create paper mache sculptures and masks. See the patterns.

Over 450 projects and recipes for paper mache, including Jonni’s famous paper mache clay. Get inspired.

Paper Mache – Why Should Kids Have All the Fun?

On this site we have patterns, tutorials, videos and step-by-step instructions that help you create your own hand-crafted paper mache sculptures.

Now beautiful paper mache sculptures, wall art and masks can be made by artists of all ages. The materials are inexpensive and the methods are easy, but your sculptures will last a lifetime if you take care of them. Your next paper mache sculpture might even become a treasured family heirloom.

Need help with your next paper mache sculpture?
Ask for advice on the Daily Sculptors page.

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28 thoughts on “Paper Mache Can Bring Your Ideas to Life!

  1. Jonni, I never thought about how much it cost, as it was paid for by the company. I do know that because it was latex based you can thin it with water, and a little goes a long way. You’re right in that the sculpture on a float is pretty big. But I’ve used it to make some smaller pieces- about 18″ tall or so. I’m not sure about the waterproof resistance of crumpled paper painted with just the primer and paint. I had a gallon of the 3M Fastbond that I’d had for over a year and still had about half of it left, and I’d made a lot of sculpture. If you want to try the corrugated cardboard and pasteboard, I suggest you use the cheapest, flimsiest stuff you can find, usually the Chinese-made stuff. I suggest looking in the dumpsters behind cheap furniture stores. To make the smaller stuff, you just rip the cardboard into smaller strips. You build up the sculpture in strips and small pieces, building it up hollow, sometimes over a wooden or pvc armature depending on the size.
    My uncle decorates his house in elephants, so I made him an elephant ottoman with a pvc armature and a solid structure. It’s lasted for years now with no damage from his feet and nieces and nephews riding on it.
    Now if you want to make up a sculpture over crumpled foil I’d use an armature made up of pvc or wire (I use aluminum guy wire from a radio supply store, it’s cheaper than armature wire from an art store.) You then cover this in pasteboard with the 3M Fastbond. (I’m not a representative for 3M. If there’s a latex/water-based contact adhesive out there that’s cheaper, then please by all means use that.)
    Just remember this is a three layer process. First layer is corrugated cardboard, second layer is pasteboard, and the third layer is butcher paper. Each of these layers smooths out the layer underneath it.

    • Excellent information, Aryea. I don’t suppose you have a photo of that elephant ottoman? We would love to see it. And I also don’t suppose you’d want to write a guest tutorial for us? If you intend to make another sculpture and just happen to take photos as you’re working, I would love to publish a guest post that shows us how you do it. Many more people would get to see your ideas that way. If you think it would be fun, just let me know. 🙂

  2. Hey Jonni, Ari Kahn here. I used to build Mardi Gras floats in the Southeastern US. Each of these floats contained paper mache sculpture of one sort or another. We used to use chicken wire covered with heavy kraft paper and this noxious, petroleum-based contact adhesive that took a long time to dry. Later, instead of the chicken wire, we used corrugated cardboard covered with paste board and butcher’s paper. We used 3M Fastbond contact adhesive to glue the cardboard to itself. 3M Fastbond is a green, latex-based adhesive that cleans up easily with water when still wet, (but nothing will get it out when dry.) We’d cover the sheets of cardboard with the glue and let it dry. We then ripped it into strips and built up the structure. This was then covered in pasteboard (the kind of cardboard you find in cereal boxes), also coated in glue. This also had the added benefit of partially waterproofing the cardboard. This was then pasted over with white butcher paper and waterproof poster paste. The purpose of the pasteboard was to smooth out the corrugated cardboard and the butcher paper smoothed out that. This was finally painted over with Kilz primer then painted with exterior latex house paints This enabled the sculpture to hold up in all sorts of weather for years. We had sculpture that we’d been using for years and was still as good as the day it was made. I myself have made exterior decorations using this method and they were still going strong (at least they were when we moved.) I made a few sculptures like this using moulds, but you have to do them a bit in reverse. You first have to put in the pasteboard in the mould, then line it with the strips of corrugated cardboard. After you pull it from the mould, you then cover it with the butcher paper and poster adhesive.
    I hope this helps a fellow paper mache artist to build some outside sculpture.

    • Thanks, Areya! This is great information. I looked up the FastBond on amazon.com, and it is expensive – about twice as much as other products that people use for waterproofing paper mache, like Flex Seal. However, the method you described has actually been tested for years, while we’re still experimenting with other products. I looked for waterproof poster paste and couldn’t find it. Is that like wallpaper paste?

      It sounds like the last few layers of paper are only protected by the Kilz primer – an outdoor version, I assume – and the exterior latex house paint. Is it possible that a paper mache sculpture created with a solid armature, made with crumpled paper or foil, could be made waterproof with just the primer and paint? I know I’m asking a hypothetical question here, but maybe you’ve experimented with it? Most of us make smaller sculptures than the ones used in floats.

  3. hi Jonni . first time doing paper mache. I was gifted an armature of a life size sitting swan. skinned it 1/4 in. wire mesh. decided on paper mache for its light weight. It has to go outside when finished so, I believe I have found the right product to do that. what I have tested is roofing cement. not sure on the brand I was given a sample to test. I covered a box of hand soap in 8 layers of paper and paste. stuck In wire legs , looks like Spunge Bob. by the way I live in Lakeland Fl. and its rainy season. This product is like a thick water based house paint white, needs to dry 24 hours before exposure. easy to brush on. I put 4 coats on 24 hours apart. then kills primer and finished with acrylic paint. 5 weeks in my yard and a total now of 23 inches of rain. No mold No change. I think it works.

    • That does sound exciting – and thank you for doing your test! Is there any way you might be able to find out which brand you used? Is it a product that’s used to seal cracks in the roof of mobile homes? I’m obviously not too well-versed in construction terms, because I don’t think I’ve ever heard of roofing cement before. Maybe it’s similar to the Flex Seal that Tom used on his life-sized bear?

      • the roofing cement is made by black jack ,its used before new roofing goes on. applied to the drip edge and anything that protrudes the wood deck. you want white water based. they have black and if memory serves me, they have black oil based that’s nasty even putting it on a roof.

  4. Hi Jonni,

    You have a such a great attitude it is enjoyable watching your videos. Especially, your trial and error approach to searching for a product that can stand up to outdoor elements.
    Have you tried “Paverpol” transparent? It is a liquid brushed on the finish piece. Originally, it was primarily used as a fixative for stiffening fabric, etc.

    Best Wishes,

    Martha Greiner

  5. Hi Jonni,

    Great website, thanks! I’m hoping to be able to replicate the same paper clay form for trophy mounts over and over again and I wanted to know if you have any suggestions please as to the best way to do it? Thanks!

    Jasmine

    • Hi Jasmine. Have you already made your original sculptures for your trophy mounts? If you’re referring to my paper mache clay recipe, it will stick to a plaster mold unless a very good release is used – and that can put an oily surface on the copy, which could make it difficult to paint. Another problem is that it dries very hard, and if you have any undercuts in the original sculpture at all, the copy will get caught in a plaster mold and you can’t get it out. That’s why I would use a silicone mold instead. I like the Rebound 25 brush-on silicone product.

      You would want to do some experiments, because the paper content of the original paper mache clay recipe can sometimes make it hard to make a good copy. It also tends to dry very slowly when air can only get to one side of it. I’ve tried using the paper mache clay in molds in the past, and I wasn’t very happy with the results.

      However, I did create some trophy mounts with silicone molds several years ago with a different recipe, and I still have them. They’re thin-walled and lightweight, but much stronger than I had expected them to be. I explained the methods and recipe I used on this post. Take a look at it, and see if that might be a method that would work well for you. If you have any questions about it, don’t hesitate to ask.

  6. Hello!
    I am working on a sculpture at the moment, a fairly large one (not huge but good-sized) and i was wondering if it’s true that you need to allow each layer to dry individually before applying the next? If so, how long would you recommend letting each layer sit so it does not attract mold? Are there further tips for preventing mold in the first place? The materials I’m using are a a regular liquid craft glue paste and toilet paper (seems to be hardening very nicely so far).

    Thank you so much, love this website.

    • Hi Christina. When you say “regular liquid craft glue paste,” are you talking about Elmer’s Art Paste? If you are, you shouldn’t need to worry too much about mold. If you’re using a starch-based paste, like the one made with flour and water, then you will need to make sure it dries quickly. However, I don’t usually recommend drying each layer one at a time. The reason is that the dry layer gets wet again just as soon as you add the second wet layer, and it’s easy to believe it’s dry all the way through if the second layer is dry, even if the first layer is still damp, but hidden.

      The fastest way to dry paper mache is to put it in front of a fan. Mold can’t live without water, so getting your paper mache dry quickly is always a good idea. If you are using starch-based paste, you can also add a few drops of oil of clove to slow down the growth of mold so you have time to get the piece completely dry.

      I hope this helps. Have fun with it!

  7. Jonni,
    I caught your video on the lion head, was very exciting! You made a mold. But you had to start with a lion head, correct? Where did you get it? What is the cost? Or do you have an extra one lion head to sell? Please verify. Thanks, Fernando
    Please

    • my name is Barbara and as of 4 years ago I started making paper mache’s to finish a Christmas tree I was donating to raise money for the disable. I surprised myself when I sculpted the faces by hand; I didn’t know I was capable of doing it. I have improved over the years and now find people asking if I sell my mache’s but I don’t know how to price them; can you help me?

      • Hi Barbara. That’s a really hard question. There are two ways to go about it – if you’d like to sell as a hobby, or to get some money back so you can buy more art supplies, you can imagine trading the item for a certain amount of money. If you feel it’s a fair trade, then that’s what you should ask for. If you want to turn it into a full-time job, then you’d need to figure out how many items you can make in a month, how much money you need to make in a month, and then price them so you can make a living at it. Then you would need to go “shopping” for similar items, perhaps on etsy.com, and see if your prices are higher or lower than your competition. No matter which way you go, there’s no easy way to do it. And in the end, it’s the buyer who really decides if a price is fair or not. Perhaps the next time someone asks if you sell your work, ask them how much they would be willing to pay for it.

        Do you have some photos of your work that you’d be willing to share?

  8. Jonni, I love your iron finish on your lion and have a question. Can you tell me the source of this iron material, is it a bottled product, powder ??
    Nice work and thanks, Tom

  9. Advice/help. I have a scupt made from monster clay (wax clay). I know papee mache shouldnt hurt the clay but im wondering if there may be a good release to use? I want to make a few base pieces to detail but i also still want to keep the sculpt to refine its details and make a latex mask. Any suggestions or ideas for me to “think on” would be ao welcome! .

    • Hi Misty. Petroleum jelly will work as a release, but I don’t know how the clay will react to it. It softens oil-based clay. You might want to experiment with it. You could also experiment with a silicone spray. Try it on a small bit of your Monster Clay, let it dry, then put on a coat or two of paper mache and let that dry. Remove the paper mache and see if any residue is easy to wash off. Then try squishing and shaping the clay to see if it’s affected by the silicone. You can do the same with the petroleum jelly. Or – you could contact The Monster Makers – they’ll probably have better ideas than I do. 😉

  10. Hi there, I’m working on a project in which I must cover a 3d printed large-scale sculpture with concrete, but concrete does not stick to plastic. If I covered the sculpture first with papier mache, would the concrete stick? Thanks!

    • Hi Karin. Papier mache doesn’t stick to plastic, either. I’m not a concrete expert by any means, but it sounds like you need to attach something to the plastic that the concrete can grab onto, like stucco lath. It would need to be attached to the plastic form with screws, I assume. But again, this isn’t my area of expertise. You might want to contact your local concrete contractor and ask him for advice. Good luck with it!

  11. Hello, I am interested in finding someone who can repair a “Joseph” from a manger scene that was under our Christmas tree fifty years ago. I’ve put it out every Christmas for 20 years. Poor Joseph was much shorter the last two years. It is the ONLY thing that was broken in a move. Of course, its only value is family oriented. But I read the information about how to repair paper mache and will be honest; I am horrible at all art including even cutting with scissors. If someone is interested, I will be happy to send a picture and, of course, pay for your work. Thank you so much. Denise

    • Hi Denise. You might want to contact local art galleries, museums or antique stores for a local referral. There might be someone in your town who could take a look at it and either fix it or tell you who could. Another possibility is your local university or community college art department. One of their teachers, or even a student, might be able to help. Good luck!

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