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

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

  1. Hi I’m having trouble with my clay it falls down With the weight of the clay for instance I have been doing a Chicken and the Weight from the top pulse and rips the clay down

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  2. I just found your youtube channel and WOW! Your paper mache projects are stunning works of art! But I’m curious – what do you do with all of the sculptures? Thanks for your artistic inspiration!

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    • Thanks, Christal. I do have a lot of animal sculptures in my little house, but when I start to run out of room I find new homes for some of them. I don’t sell them, though. They just go to family and friends.

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  3. please continue the easier projects. They’re a joy with children. Also YES I’d love a color mixing class with Jessie. Thanks for all you share with us… Janet Hanna

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  4. Hi there! I have been binge watching your videos and I want to thank you so much! I’ve been wanting to sculpt for years, but couldn’t bring myself to spend so much on clay! You are a genius ??

    Quick question…I was about to go buy some glue and saw this on the internet. Have you ever tried making your own PVA glue? Sorry for the bad photo, I believe the lady found it on reference.com.
    Thanks so much!!!

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  5. Hi, I’ve been watching your videos on You Tube, bought your animal book, and I attempted my first piece.
    I made a wall hanging of a boxer head. My question is, how do I hang it in the wall? Can I attach a hook with glue? What glue is strong enough? Any suggestions?

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    • Hi Judy. We’d love to see your boxer! (Click here if you’d like to share it with us.) I hang my wall sculptures by adding a flat piece of cardboard on the back, and then drilling a small hole in the cardboard near the top. Then I just hang the hole over a nail. I’ve never tried to glue a hanger on the back.

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      • Hi Erin. I just put a hole in the flat back piece and hang it on the wall. There are hundreds of different types of glue, so if you want to attach a hanger to the back, I’d recommend asking the clerk at your local hardware store. Tell him or her how heavy your sculpture is, and what you’re using the glue for.

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  6. I have an old paper mache doll my grandmother left me and I’d like to know if it’s worth anything or worth hanging on to

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    • Dereck, I’d recommend taking it to your local antique dealer and ask them. Even if it isn’t worth much money, there may be someone in your family who would love to have it – or you might find someone who’d like to have it on eBay. I really hope you don’t throw it out. 🙂

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  7. Merry, merry and happy, happy to you, Jonni and to all the PMers who contributed to the website this year: I learned SO MUCH from all of you. My projects are mostly inspired by the Daily Sculptors postings! For Chrimble, I got a copy of Make Animal Sculptures by Jonni and wondered if there was any more to glean from it: turns out, it’s worth the cover price just to learn the technique for the translucent, spotted piggy skin — it is fabulous and I would never have figured it out for myself! We at UPM are creative and generous and led by Jonni’s wisdom, experience, and example. God bless you all with good health, peace, and satisfaction…and our best New Year ever all over the world!

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  8. Dear Joni,
    I have spent a lot of time watching your videos, (still searching through them all) and am extremely impressed with your methods and ability to convey information.
    I watched you latest video where. you were talking about your efforts at improving your financial situation through selling your art work on the web.
    The thought (many of them popped up, but let’s start with one)

    With your ability to write books, it seems to me that you could easily translate your knowledge into school age interests for students or younger kiddies in a variety of learning schedules by crafting children’s /youth books and publish them yourself through Kindle books (Amazon). You could also create smaller pictures of your crafted animals to “stamp” sized pictures which could be set up as a collection series to encourage students to A, read the books, B. collect the books and C. earn “free” books when a designate number have been collected. All of course controlled by you. Each of your posters with these animals you have done can be printed in differing sizes, such as those which can be adhered to nursery walls, youth furniture backings, jackets, etc. Your active imagination can open doors that you might not have thought of before.

    You will of course benefit from your books being “self-published” on Kindle and not having to pay for printing costs, (except for stamps/posters, etc.). your present web site can send inquiries to you self publishing Kindle site.
    Also you can research how Amazon can help you as your sales increase by marketing your web site and your products.

    You are so talented and I have enjoyed your tube videos more than anyone’s and I hope this little bit of “what-if’s” can help you become rich, rich, rich.

    In the meantime, keep on with these sculpting /crafting tube videos and remember you are appreciated, enjoyed, and way over awesome!

    Sincerely,

    Sharon Gilmore,
    Fellow dreamer, hopeful artist, appreciative fan of yours.

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  9. Mrs Jonni good, I was wondering if you could use flour instead of the cornstarch in the paperclay made with the calcium carbonate. And have you ever made clay from regular red clay dirt?

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    • Hi Christina. I have added some pottery clay to the mixture, just to see what would happen. If you add just a little, maybe 1/4 cup, it makes a smoother mix. Is that what you meant? And you can use flour instead of cornstarch in the silky-smooth air dry clay recipe – the original paper mache clay is made with flour and no cornstarch, so the new mixture would be the same as the original paper mache clay, but with less paper. Play around with your different ideas – you might come up with a recipe that’s perfect for your needs. 🙂

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  10. Hi Miss Jonni,
    I am having a hard time finding the Proform Joint Compound brand. I purchased it a couple times at Walmart, but it seems like they have stopped carrying it. Do you know if that’s the case, and if so, what do you suggest we use?
    Thanks so much!!

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    • Yes, that appears to be true. Any non-Dap joint compound should work, at least if you’re in the US. I’ve been told that there’s a brand in Canada that makes the mixture rubbery, but I can’t remember the name of it.

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      • Hi jonni lowes or Home Depot carries it and it’s 60 pounds for 17 bucks proform joint compound I just bought a few of them if your looking to ?

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    • Hi I buy 60 pounds proform joint compound at Lowe’s or Home Depot for 17 bucks i make a lot of big projects and they always have it I just bought 4 of them hope that helps

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  11. Hi Jonni,
    I have been a sculptor in wax, clay and other media for many years, and I wanted to try paper mache to make a marionette. I crumpled tin foil and taped over, then covered it with your basic recipe. The outside dried after about 30 hours, but the inside was still wet when I tried to remove the stuffing. Was my clay too wet? There was still some fiber visible in the clay after mixing (I used the dough hook). It wasn’t real smooth, either. Please help. Your work is wonderful.

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    • Hi Judy. It sounds like the layer of paper mache clay that you put over the foil was too thick. I try to keep each layer under 1/8″ thick – I’ll go with paper thin, if I can, especially if the paper mache clay is going over plastic or foil. When the water can only evaporate from one side, it will naturally take longer. And if the outside dries hard first, the water will find it even more difficult to get out. The fibers will probably disappear if you just mix it longer.

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  12. Hello,
    I have discovered this website towards the end of a paper mache project. I am making a ‘The Tiger that Came to Tea’ sculpture and I am at the painting stage. I have used newspaper and a pva water mix for the model. Unfortunately 3 layers of orange poster paint in and you can still see the newspaper print through. What would you suggest to remedy at this stage?
    Thanks!

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    • What an interesting idea for a sculpture – I hope you’ll show it to us when it’s done! I don’t use poster paint for anything, but you may need to use a coat of white acrylic paint or a coat or two of acrylic gesso to completely cover the newsprint. It sounds like your paint may be too transparent, or the water-based paint is allowing the soy-based ink on the paper to migrate up through your paint. (I don’t know if that can happen or not). A layer of white acrylic paint or gesso should seal the sculpture and provide a nice white ground. However – remember that I have never used poster paint so I don’t know for sure if it will stick to the acrylic paint.

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  13. Hi Jonni,
    I am going to be a hotdog vendor for Halloween and I came across your website when I decided to make a box of paper mache hotdogs. I watched a few of your tutorials, but I’m wondering if you might offer advice on which recipe(s) I should use.

    I made my buns using crumbled paper and masking tape and I planned on using your paper mache clay recipe over the buns I made. I plan to use balloons for the actual hotdogs.

    I watched a few of your tutorials, but I’m wondering if you might offer advice on which recipe(s) I should use for each. I was thinking that I would use your paper mache clay recipe for the hotdog buns, but I saw that it won’t work with the balloon. For the balloons, do you recommend using newsprint with a glue+water paper mache mixture? Once finished, I plan to seal them with gesso then pain them and hot glue the hotdogs into the buns. Does this sounds like a good plan or would you recommend a different method(s)? Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah. I don’t recommend any form of paper mache with balloons. The air inside the balloons will expand and shrink as it changes temperature, and you almost always get either wrinkled paper mache, or cracks. However, balloons do have great shapes, so I can see why they’re so appealing. You might want to try covering your balloons using the cooked flour and water paste with thin torn strips of newspaper to make a nice smooth paintable surface. Wrap your paper all the way around the balloon, if you can, to make the the paper mache as strong as possible. You’ll need several layers, and make sure the paper mache is dry all the way through before letting the air out of the balloon. If there’s any moisture left in the layer next to the rubber, your paper mache hot dogs will collapse.

      You might also want to watch my video that I made about using a layer of plaster cloth first – that really does work well, and takes most of the frustration out of the project – but if you don’t have a hobby store handy, the plaster cloth would have to be ordered online.

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      • Hi Jane! I have been meaning to post a photo (and I am just getting around to it) but I don’t see how/where to attach one to my reply. I was a “hot dog vendor in the dark” and my entire outfit was UV reactive. The hotdogs came out great! They glowed as well!

        Jonni, I followed your advice and they were perfect! I will definitely be making more paper mache items int he future with your recipe and tips. Thank you!!

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