Make Beautiful Sculptures and Masks with Paper Mache and Paper Mache Clay

Click the yellow button above to see my easy patterns for paper mache sculptures and masks.

  • Create beautiful gifts and decorative sculptures for your home.
  • Or quickly create professional-looking headdress masks for your local production of the Lion King play or a Vacation Bible School event.

The patterns make it easy, even if you’ve never made anything with paper mache before.

Latest Paper Mache Tutorials:

How Cindy made her paper mache octopus.

Paper Mache Octopus

This paper mache octopus project started with crumpled newspaper and masking tape. Then I wrapped wire coat hangers with tin foil to make the tentacles…

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Jonni’s Sculpting Books

Paper mache recipes.

You can find all the traditional paper mache paste recipes on this site, plus my famous paper mache clay recipe (and several new variations). You can always find the recipe you’re looking for under the Recipes link at the tip of the site.

Or download my free booklet, The 5 Best Recipes for Paper Mache.

Your Host.Jonni Good, Paper Mache Artist

I’m Jonni Good, the creator of this site and the author of several best-selling sculpting books on amazon.com. You’ll find me on the Daily Sculptors page almost every day, along with many other friendly and supportive folks who love creating beautiful things with this exciting medium. Be sure to drop by and say “hi.” We’d love to meet you.

My Best-Selling Patterns for Paper Mache:

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

    • Not necessarily. If you put wet flour and water paste over dry paper mache, the water in the paste will make the lower layers wet again. But if you let them dry out at least a little between layers, the final layer should dry faster. Just make sure that the last layer dries all the way, including the bottom layer, before adding paint.

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  1. I saw on your channel you were talking about waterproofing. Would applying a couple coats of water glass (sodium silicate) (I believe) to waterproof and heat proof the paper clay?

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  2. Dear Jonni,

    Thank you for sharing your wonderful videos on youtube. I just discovered your channel and the world of Paper Mache Clay. I would like to pick your brain about creating faux glazed pots for my plants using your Paper Mache Clay. Do you have any video where you talk about the different finishes you use on your Paper Mache Clay? Also, have you discovered any technique/materials that mimics the glossy glaze finish you see on porcelain pottery?

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    • Hi Ibo. Do you intend to grow living plants inside your pots? If that’s what you have in mind, I don’t know if there’s any coating product that will permanently protect the paper mache clay from water, and paper mache clay is not waterproof, and if it gets wet (and stays wet) it will grow mold. For the glaze, though, a two-part epoxy should work. I haven’t used them myself, but a lot of people paint with them, so there are videos about it on YouTube.

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      • Hi Jonni,

        Was thinking about adding a waterproof coating to the pots or use a plastic insert to catch the water underneath the nursery pot. Thank you so much for the advice. I think two part epoxy might do the trick and get me beautiful color effects. I will give it a try. I hope I can keep the costs lower than buying pots at the store.

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  3. Jonni, hello and thank you for welcoming me to your page .. I have a question and here it is how can I make either elephant with the trunk up?? If you have a pattern I can buy with the trunk up how can I get it. I really enjoy your YouTube videos .. they are very inspiring.. Thanks Miranda

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    • Hi Miranda. I don’t have a pattern with a trunk going up. Customizing the wall sculpture might be difficult to do, but it would be easy to change the trunk of the standing elephant. You would just draw the trunk in the right position on the plywood or cardboard before you cut it out, and then continue with the project. The wall sculpture’s trunk would need to be cut apart along the lower curve, and then bent upward. You could fill in the gaps with crumpled foil covered with masking tape, and then finish the project with your paper mache. It would definitely take a little longer, but I think it would work.

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  4. Hi love your stuff, not sure I have mist out or you not got around to the ears on the hound. Would have thought they would have been in the pattern. Thanks

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    • Hi Geoff. Yes, the pattern has ears, but they won’t go on until after the head has been filled in. The project is not even close to being finished yet – but I hope to have time to work on it some more tomorrow.

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  5. Jonni, you are going to start charging me a consultant fee. ? a couple more questions.

    I’m not really following the order of all the instructions, because I’m still trying to work out what I’m going to need to adapt to other things, because I want to finish in glass.

    I couldn’t find the exact size eye for the giraffe as you mentioned in your instructions, so I bought a slightly smaller size. But it seems way, way, too small. I have a bigger one, but it seems like there are still going to be big gaps around the both sides of the eye even if I use it. I think it was a 2”. Also, in the pictures on line it looks like the lower eyelid is almost flattened out. Mine is not. Maybe I taped the eyelid too tight to the other pieces. It does not go all the way to the corner, which may be one reason I am getting a gap.

    I’m going to build my base out of styrofoam and have a plastic tube going up in the middle so that I can stick him in my garden if I can figure everything out. Does the shape of the neck follow the same shape as A and C all the way to the top. I do see that when looking for the side there is a slight curves in the front and back.

    Also, what size masking tape do you use? When taping do you go in a opposite direction of the seams to smooth some of the areas or do you follow the direction of the seams and let your mache smooth out those parts?

    You’ve probably not heard the last from me. ?

    Thanks!
    Sharon

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    • Hi Sharon. A small piece of masking tape will cover any gaps between seams, or around the eyes, so the larger eyes you have on hand should work just fine. The neck is not the same all the way from bottom to top, though. If you need a model to use when shaping your Styrofoam, you could cut out the pieces and tape them together, as shown on the pattern. Then you could tell where they get smaller, and the way the top is shaped to fit onto the head.

      I use whatever size masking tape I happen to have in the house. Larger sizes will cover the piece faster, of course. And I tend to put the masking tape across the seams, instead of following them exactly. It shouldn’t really matter, though, because of all the tape that’s already holding everything together.

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  6. I have been watching all tour videos. Does the paper you use make a big difference on how smooth the clay comes out? I was using recycle computer paper from work that we shred. Took it home boiled water; soaked it over night, but it in blender, it was a big process. I havent mixed it with the other ingredients yet because it still seems so clumpy

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    • I always use toilet paper because it falls apart so easily. However, I did once try some brown paper, just to see if it would work, and it mixed up pretty well. Your paper might smooth out once you start mixing it into the rest of the ingredients. Give it a try, and see.

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        • No, I haven’t. do you mean for the paper mache clay recipe? Or for traditional paper mache pulp? Either one should work, if you can soak the paper long enough so the fibers come apart.

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          • Just saw a YouTube video of someone using cardboard egg cartons with just
            Hot water and glue. .BTW .
            Just ordered your mask making book on
            Amazon. Looki g
            Forward to reading it

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            • A lot of people have used that method to create sculptures. It may be slightly more textured than the paper mache clay, but it still works really well. I don’t know how thinly it can be applied, because I haven’t used it. If you try it, I hope you’ll show us how your sculptures turn out! Have fun. 🙂

  7. Howdy we from the west virginian state. We have no idea what we are doing but love how your paste looks like literal mayonnaise. I love mayonnaise

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  8. Jonni, you inspired me to make my first paper mache buck it came out great don’t know if i should paint it what do you think

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    • Hi Ed – did you try to upload a photo with your comment? If you did, it didn’t come through. Images need to be less than 250 kb. If you don’t have image editing software on your device, you can use this free online tool. I hope you’ll try again so we can see what it looks like now.

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  9. Dragon mask is coming along. After looking at the videos about drying times, I knew it wouldn’t be dry enough to fully paint and seal it by my target date, so I put a very light coat of what I assume to be somewhat breathable matte paint just to hide the spots that still have newspaper print showing. My plan now is to let it dry for at least three days before I do final painting and sealing (but I wore it last night and will wear it again tonight in its current unfinished-but-acceptably-presentable state).

    Anyway, after watching the videos about drying I’m scared to death that this thing is going to mold if I don’t seal up every nook and cranny…and as you can see it has a LOT of nooks and crannies. Is it true that if I finish it but get it back out in a year for next Halloween and somehow allow a drop of rain or moist air or whatever to get into even one tiny unsealed crack, mold will ruin it?? ?

    I mean if I have to, I’ll go full OCD and grab a paintbrush-applied sealer and spend hours working it into every tiny crack…but I’m just wondering is that really necessary or am I being paranoid? Also worth noting: I’m using some KILZ as a sealer and primer under the final paint job, which will be matte spray paint and watercolor weathering…then I plan to do final sealing with a spray can of flex seal and some other sealer I can apply with a paintbrush into the tiny cracks and along sharp edges because it’s hard to get good coverage over those with spray cans…

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    • Hi Sonnet. Your dragon is absolutely fantastic! As for sealing it, if you only intend to let it go outside for a few hours, or even a day or two, you don’t need to get overly carried away. Many Halloween artists just give their pieces a coat or two of marine varnish. Then they bring their sculptures back inside and make sure they have a chance to dry out again before storing them in a dry place for next year. With your paint and Flex Seal, your dragon should do just fine. I have been told that the brush-on version of Flex Seal is more waterproof than the spray. But, again, if you don’t intend to leave him out in the yard for a long period of time, the products you already have should be just fine.

      And even if a drop or two of water does make its way through the final coat, the water will find its way out again if you bring it back inside and put it in front of a fan for a few hours.

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  10. Hello I took some of your technique s and applied them to my Lion paper mache project. I had some errors but review I got your videos help me work through it all. I hope to develop your skills one day!!! Thank you! DK

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    • I went to the local Walmart and chose a warm yellowish tan craft paint for the fur. I also used a small amount of white around the eyes and on the muzzle. The eyes were painted the same color as the fur, with black pupils.

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  11. Hi Jonni,
    I’m making a large pumpkin. I used paper mache as my base then added foam spray over that. I added plaster to the foam to fill in the gaps but I see that it’s cracking. Do you have any suggestions as far as how to keep it from cracking?

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  12. Hiya! I’m having a Narnia event coming soon and originally I was planning on buying stuffed animals for the props but then after seeing your videos I became soo inspired to just make all the characters from scratch and it saves budget too! Do you happen to have templates for a life sized beaver and lion though? Could really help us out a lot !
    Kind regards xxx

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  13. hello, was wanting to know if you sale any of your large paper mache animals? if so please let me know your pricing. thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Araceli. No, I don’t sell my finished sculptures. I teach other people how to make their own. If you find a pattern or video on this site of a sculpture you’d like to have, but you don’t want to make it yourself, you might find someone at your local community college who could follow the instructions and make it for you.

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  14. Hi Jonni,
    Love your site, and feeling totally inspired! I am just about to start my first project using your original paper clay recipe and hoping you may be kind enough to answer a couple of quick questions…
    I’m using foil and hot glue for my armature, can I apply the paper clay directly on top? Will it adhere OK?
    How long do you have to ‘work’ with the clay before it starts to dry?
    Will fresh paper clay adhere to dry paper clay?
    Tanks again for such a great and useful site 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Andy. Yes, paper mache clay can be applied directly to a crumpled foil armature. It dries slowly, unlike an epoxy clay that sets up in just a few minutes. You’ll have at least three hours before it dries too much to move it around. And yes, new paper mache clay sticks tight to dried paper mache clay. Have fun! 🙂

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      • Just wanted to drop you a note to try you, you are an amazing teacher my husband created a large mouth bass using your techniques. I have attached a picture to show you. Not bad for his first time.

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        • Hi Debbie. We would love to see your husband’s fish, but the image didn’t come through – probably because it was too big. Images need to be less then 250 KB to upload. If you don’t have image editing software, you can use this free online tool to make it smaller. I really hope you’ll try again – we want to see that fish! 🙂

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      • WOW, is this really Jonni!? You’re a superstar to me, I have your videos playing in my my studio, a lot! Even gave you a shout out on Instagram when I finished a my first complete paper mache piece, So thanks!

        Back to business…. I’m using the original recipe, but I added the food processing paper to the mix. Not the ripped paper.

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        • Yes, it’s really me. 🙂

          I had never heard of “food processing paper,” so I looked it up. Is your paper coated? That might be what’s causing the cracks, if the fibers can’t separate and become a part of the mixture. Have you tried using the toilet paper that’s called for in the original recipe?

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          • Hello Jonni,
            I am very grateful for your generosity in sharing your experience. I am a beginner, I am interested in creating lamp shades. Which recipe would you Recommend ? One that’s durable and tolerates heat.

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            • Hi Lina. I have never made a lampshade, so I’m the wrong person to ask. However, there are quite a few wonderful videos on YouTube that show how to make paper mache lampshades. I hope to try one of them someday. In the meantime, you might want to ask the lady who created this video.

            • And one more thing – double-check any reply you get to make sure you get safe advice. Almost any paper-based product will burn, no matter what paste is used to hold it together. Or use LED lamps, which don’t put out much heat.

  15. If anyone is looking to make trees of any kind (especially for Halloween) I find using cement tubes from a big hardware store (like Home Depot) works really well. And the paper mâché sticks really well to it. They come in 8″ round up to (I believe) 24″ round tubes. Sturdy and strong.

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  16. For a band prop we are going to attempt to make a 1/2 of a tree 12 foot long. We are looking for something that will set up fast and be durable for the 8 week season. Possibly getting rained on is also a concern. Please if you have any insight let me know

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    • Hi Joe. You could make short sections of the trunk with a flat plywood back and semi-circles at regular intervals, maybe 24″ apart, along the length of each section. Cover the rounded parts with chicken wire, cover the wire with masking tape or duct tape, and cover the tape with paper mache or paper mache clay. The paper mache clay can be used to make bark textures, and it dries very strong.

      The sections would need to bolt together when they’re used, and I have no idea how to do that. If you intend to have limbs on your tree, you might be able to make them with rebar that’s bent and attached to the trunk with some hardware you find at the DIY store. The rebar can be rounded out with crumpled foil. Smaller wires could be attached to the rebar and filled out with the foil for smaller side branches.

      No paper mache recipe or product is waterproof, though. For short term display outside you can use marine varnish to seal the tree, and that will help if you bring it back inside to dry off between sessions. For long-term outdoor use, some people have good luck with Flex Seal, but other people have tried it and say it didn’t work at all. Good luck with your project – we would love to see it when it’s done.

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  17. tip…made some clay using “Platinum Patch” spackle. Says it weatherproof. CLay turned out really nice. We’ll see how it turns out ! Wish me luck. trying to make outdoor piece.

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        • I am making a giant Christmas ornament ball for my porch. It is paper mache clay over a yoga ball. If I use joint compound and epoxy over it to make it shiny, do you think it will be stiff enough to retain its shape when I remove the ball

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          • Hi Kim. It should be stiff enough with the paper mache clay. You might want to do a small test piece first, though, just to make sure it does what you need it to do. And please let us see it when it’s done!

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