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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:

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

  1. Our church is making a 5’ volcano for our VBS. How much paste do you think we will need to cover the chicken wire? We were just going to use the basic flour & water mix.
    Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Can any of your recipes be used for outdoor sculptures? I have a cement lawn ornament that needs repairs. Can I use the Clay to “fix” it? A mushroom cap broke off so it doesn’t support anything, but it would be in the elements in Florida.

    Reply
    • You could try the paper cement clay recipe, although I haven’t tried to use it to repair an older sculpture. I don’t know if it would stick or not, but it would be worth a try. Another option would be to use a surface bonding cement like Quikwall. That particular brand isn’t available everywhere, but it is designed to be used to repair concrete. Good luck with your project!

      Reply
  3. I am trying to make a giant Easter Bunny. How do I make a form/mode. I am looking to build a bunny 5 to 6 foot tall.

    Reply
    • Hi David. I don’t usually make sculptures that big, but you can make an internal pattern using the technique on this page. Then you would fill out the rounded forms with crumpled paper – or maybe bubble wrap or something. The crumpled paper can be really heavy, and with a sculpture that big it could make it hard to move it around.

      Reply
  4. Hello, I was wondering what type of clay you would recommend to use in a large (ish) silicone mould. I read that the paper clay should be used in thin layers, would it be ok if I did several layers letting each layer dry in between? I have been using polymer clay but with the mould being on the larger side it would need quite a lot of p clay to fill it and was hoping to find a cheaper alternative. I tried plaster of Paris but it cracked into a million pieces when I tried getting it out ?. Any suggestions or recommendations would be greatly appreciated.
    P.S you are one extremely talented and gifted person, I can only dream about being as good as you one day ?

    Reply
    • Hi Rachel. I’ve tried paper mache clay in silicone molds, and it doesn’t work very well. It will shrink a little as it dries, and it will pull away from the mold and the shape will be distorted. It also doesn’t make a good casting because of the texture of the paper. A lot of people have told me that the air dry clay recipe works in small, candy-sized silicone molds, but I don’t think it would work in larger ones, where the layers need to be so thin.

      Take a look at the video and recipe on this page. The cougar that I made with that technique is still hanging on my wall. The process is a little fussy, but it captures every detail of the original, it doesn’t crack, and it’s both lightweight and strong. If you try it, let us know what you think about it. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Approximately how long does it take to make a paper mache sculpture? I was thinking of making on for a school project but I’m on a tight deadline (4 days) 🙁

    Reply
    • It really depends on how big and complicated your sculpture is. If you don’t need to spend a lot of time making the armature, then most of the time will be waiting for the paper mache to dry. What kind of project do you have in mind? If it’s something specific, use the search bar on the site – we might have a tutorial that will help.

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  6. This will mot be a paper mache project, but I know there are a lot of great sculptors on here. So, I thought I would ask.

    Looking for some ideas here. I want to do a 3d sculpture for outdoors that will consist of two parts; a hand dropping pebbles into a basin. I’m thinking of how to do the hand part. I could do the forearm with the hand bent at the wrist, with the forearm attached to the basin. I think that would mean the basin will need to be bigger, because I would think the arm would need to be at an angle. I have also thought about doing the hand with a bit of arm, no bend, with some kind of perpendicular support going all the way to the ground. I have thought about the support being a lucite or something like that that is transparent, so that the hand appears to levitate. But I believe that lucite will yellow over time. I guess I could use a mosaic support with mirrors that at least reflect the outdoors and wouldn’t be as noticeable.

    Any ideas out there?

    Reply
    • Hi Sharon. I don’t do many outdoor sculptures, but you might want to ask you question over on the Daily Sculptors page, too. There’s a link to it at the top of the site, and many people visit that page daily. You might have a better chance of getting some great suggestions on that page. Have fun with your project! 🙂

      Reply
  7. From the first time I picked up a piece of papier-mâché as a very young child, I’ve been enthralled. The moment you pick an item up and think: is that …? It’s light and as fine as bone China. Then you tap it and hear that beautiful hollow sound…”ahhh, it’s paper mache! ??
    It somehow makes my heart sing.

    I just watched you tutorial on your original recipe. I’m so excited. It totally makes sense. Thank you, thank you , thank you. BTW, I’m meant to be studying but can’t because my life long obsession has been triggered.

    Reply
    • I’m so glad you found the site – we’re all a little obsessed with paper mache. If you’d like to show off some of your work, and see what other people have made recently, be sure to visit the Daily Sculptors page. But not until you’ve done with your studies! 🙂

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      • Thank you and yes, I will. I’ve been wanting to be able to sculpt faces but haven’t been able to do it and have resorted to clay. It’s just not the same. About to brew my first experimental batch !!!

        Reply
  8. I’ve been watching your videos for years. I love dolls and have tried sculpting my own heads but I struggle. I see you have a pattern for adult heads. Do you have one for children?

    Reply
    • Hi Karen. I don’t have a pattern for sculpting a child’s head. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever sculpted a child’s head myself. I did find a great video on YouTube about sculpting a baby’s head, but there really aren’t many resources out there, except for doll making books and videos. When you do have some dolls made, we’d love to see them. 🙂

      Reply
  9. Jonni, let me start off by saying your recipe has been a god send to this avid crafter/diy’er that can’t stick to any one project at a time. I consistently come back to paper mache for various reasons and it never fails my needs.
    My question(s) is basic….
    Do you find a preference for certain types of paper in various circumstances? And how would you recommend prepping and using the paper?
    For example:
    Using computer paper vs newspaper vs brown mailing paper vs magazine paper vs cardboard vs toilet paper

    Scenario:
    Using shredded, soaked, and further shredded mailing paper as a “heavy duty” clay form? Using toilet paper for a “finer” type of clay

    I hope my questions make sense to you. I know what I’m trying to say in my head, however I can’t always get my wording right.

    Reply
    • Hi Stacy. I never use the traditional paper pulp, if that’s what you’re referring to. When I make my paper mache clay I always use toilet paper, because it breaks down easily and makes a smooth material to spread over an armature. Other people have used heavier paper – and even soaked egg cartons – but I have never tried that. You might want to ask for more advice on the Daily Sculptors page – one of our readers might have more advice for you. Be sure to let us know what type of surface you’d like to achieve for your project – that would really help.

      Reply
  10. Jonni. I’ve scrolled thru many Videos and Remember from One Your Artist Daughters website. I can’t remember and can’t seem to find my it. Please let me know. Thank you ?

    Reply
  11. Hi Jonni,

    I have used your recipes for several projects and appreciate your clear and precise directions. I have made a mushroom shaped stool out of cardboard and I want to cover it with something to even out the shape, make it smooth and paint. Do you have a recommendation for which of your recipes would best suit this purpose? I will be sitting in it and worry about the surface treatment cracking.

    Thank you!
    Sherri

    Reply
    • Hi Sherri. The strongest recipe I have is the original paper mache clay. It wasn’t designed to be used for furniture and it isn’t very flexible, so you’ll want to make sure the stool is solid enough to sit on before you add the paper mache clay skin. And do a small test piece to see if you think it will work for your project.

      Reply

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