About UltimatePaperMache.com

This site provides tutorials, patterns, recipes and support for grownups looking for an affordable way to create their own custom-made masks, holiday decorations, and home decor.
Yes, grownups – why should kids have all the fun? πŸ™‚

About UltimatePaperMache.com

Why paper mache?

I’ve been making art, in one form or another, for as long as I can remember. I sold pen and ink portraits of animals at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, I sold my paper mache baby animal dolls at the Portland Saturday Market, and I showed my work in many major art fairs on the West Coast.

Then I got a ‘real’ job, as many of us eventually do – sigh – but I finally quit my last one in 2005.

Then I started a small business in affiliate marketing, back when that was fairly easy, and it gave me lots of free time to start working on my art again. I tried a number of different things, but I had a hard time finding one that really appealed to me.

cat and the fiddle sculpture

Sculpting is what I really wanted to do, and I love sculpting in clay, but I can’t afford a kiln.

I tried making plaster of Paris copies of my clay sculptures, like this little plaque of the Cat and the Fiddle, but the molds were expensive and the castings were really heavy.

Besides, it seemed silly to make a mold for just one copy of a sculpture. I didn’t want to sell my work – I just wanted to have fun.

Then I decided to try paper mache. And why not? It worked when I was a kid. πŸ™‚

This little dragon was my very first project, back in 2008, and I made him the same way I used paper mache in grade school.

I think he’s really cute, and my grandson still has him – but it was a lot less fun than I thought it would be.

About UltimatePaperMache.com

The biggest problem was that the dragon’s nose kept slumping to the table when I was adding the paper mache, and I had to prop him up with a toilet paper roll while he dried. Not too classy…

And I had to start over on the head a couple of times, because it wasn’t the right size.

So I started using cardboard patterns and building my sculptures around them – and it worked!

That’s why I now recommend using a cardboard pattern inside your animal sculptures.

The pattern supports the sculpture and makes it stronger, and it sets the silhouette, or outline, of the animal. With a pattern, you know you’re getting the legs as long as they’re supposed to be and the head is the right size. It saves hours of trial and error.

Now, because of this website and my YouTube channel, thousands of artists use patterns for their sculptures, and it makes sculpting with paper mache so much easier! This post shows you how to make your own flat cardboard patterns for any animal you want to make.

There are hundreds of posts on this site, and many of them use those patterns that you can make yourself.

I also show you how I often experiment, changing things around, using different methods and recipes, sometimes starting over entirely – because that’s how real sculptures are made. I don’t always know exactly how I’m going to make something, but it usually ends up OK at the end. Isn’t that how art usually works? πŸ™‚

And I kept looking for easier ways to sculpt with paper mache…

Original recipe for paper mache clay

I’m actually best-known for my paper mache clay recipe. It makes paper mache sculpting much less messy, and the final sculpture is lightweight and strong. You can also get some great textures and details that are really difficult to achieve with paper strips and paste.

I combined the pattern idea with the PM clay recipe in my first book: Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay.

Since beginning the site, I’ve now written five books about sculpting with inexpensive materials. Several of them are often listed at the top of Amazon’s sculpture category, and they’ve received many five star reviews.

How to make animal sculptures with paper mache clay

But could paper mache sculpting be even easier?

After creating hundreds of posts and videos, and meeting many creative readers of this blog and my YouTube channel, I discovered that many people need an even easier, faster way to make masks and sculptures.

Sometimes it’s because they feel intimidated by the sculpting process, but it’s usually just because they don’t have time to start entirely from scratch.

That’s when I started making 3D templates for masks and sculptures that make all the shapes for you.

And I’ll tell you a little secret – at my young age of 73 I think I’ve finally found what I want to do when I grow up!

Creating each pattern from an original clay sculpture is really fun for me, and I love to see all the different ways people use them – often in ways that I never would have thought of myself!

The idea of taking a few sheets of recycled cereal box and turning them into a sculpture that’s so lifelike, it seems to be looking back at you – that feels like magic to me. πŸ™‚

About UltimatePaperMache.com

When designing the patterns I try to make it easy for anyone over the age of 13 to create a lifelike animal sculpture, even if they’ve never sculpted anything before. After putting all the pieces together (which does take some patience) you can add your own creative touches and bring your sculpture to life. Each one becomes a one-of-a-kind sculpture or mask that their creator can be proud of. And that makes me proud, too. πŸ™‚

Whether you start from scratch or use one of my patterns, one of the most common things you’ll hear is:

“I didn’t know you could make something like that with paper mache!”

285 thoughts on “About UltimatePaperMache.com”

  1. I have just completed covering the elephant pattern with masking tape and have had so much fun! Looking forward to the next steps in the project. So pleased I found ultimate paper mache!

  2. Jonni! I am so glad to have found your website… I am an avid wildlife sculptor, and was brainstorming on experimenting in other clay mediums in the interest of making larger pieces. Currently I use magic sculpt, which I love, but it gets expensive (and heavy!) on a larger scale. Your paper mache clay sounds amazing! I’ve been very inspired by your “raccoon” videos and look forward on starting a thylacine (or Tasmanian tiger piece) soon. You are so kind and have wonderful videos. Thank you for sharing so much good info and good vibes πŸ™‚

    I’ve left a link to my FB page too if you’d like to see some of my work. Cheers! And I’ll leave updates as I go along with my piece…

    • Hi Danette. I’m glad you found the site, too! I hope you’ll let us see your thylacine as soon as it’s done.I’d love to see it. We all would. πŸ™‚

  3. For waterproofing I covered my Bigfoot with some stuff they call spray-on tool dip so basically it’s a rubber spray and then painted him with 100% acrylic latex house paint in theory he should not absorb water we’ll see seeing as how he is an outside statue. My new wife wanted a garden statue so I made her one. Love your work keep it up.

  4. Hello, my name is Marcos, I’m from Brazil, I really admire your work and would like to know if you could make a copy for me and autograph Paper Mache Outlaw Mask?
    If so, how much does it cost?

    • Hi Marcos. I don’t sell my masks or sculptures – I write books and make videos so other people can make their own. Maybe you could find a local artist who would make one for you.

  5. Hi Jonni,
    Do you by chance do repairs for other people? I have 2 items that need a different kind of repair. Both are vintage items.

    • Sorry, I don’t. Vintage paper mache repair can be a little tricky, and I’ve never done it. Contact your local antique shop or the art museum, and see if they can refer you to a local expert. Good luck!

  6. Hi Jonni!

    Is it possible to buy your paper machΓ© creation and if so how? πŸ˜€

    best regards from Sweden,
    Niklas Pettersson

    • Hi Niklas. No, I don’t sell my sculptures. However, I do have lots of instructions so people can make their own. If you don’t want to give it a try, maybe one of your local artists could make something for you that you’d enjoy.

  7. I am an elementary art teacher and am interested in making some paper mache clay for my students to use. The joint compound has some chemicals in it. Do you think it is safe to use with small children? If not, is there an alternative I can use for the classroom?

    • Hi Annie. A lot of school systems don’t allow joint compound to be used as an art medium. I think it’s because you need to wear a mask when you sand it. You don’t want the fine powder in your lungs. Be sure to check the rules at your school.

      I don’t know of any recipe that works exactly like paper mache clay, but for many years people have made sculptures out of paper pulp that is mixed with paste. It isn’t as smooth, and it’s hard to put on a thin layer. If the layer is too thick, it doesn’t dry fast enough and it will start to mold. Still, many artists have made beautiful sculptures with it.

      There are quite a few projects on this site that use the traditional paper strips and paste. I don’t know the age of your students, and younger kids do sometimes have trouble manipulating the wet paper or they use too much paste. However, it’s not expensive, and they can make very nice sculptures if they take their time. One of my favorite projects is the baby panda, which I made quite a long time ago. It’s playful and fun, and it doesn’t need a lot of sculpting skills to make it successfully. You might want to consider a project like that instead of one that uses the joint compound.

  8. Hello! Great ideas and good job to you! I’m interested in learning to make a mold in the style of Venetian masks using a negative concave mold. I make masks using a slightly different method , but I am interested in exploring plaster molds. Can you help? Perhaps point me to where I can find this info?

    Splendid work you do. Just brilliant.


  9. Thanks for all of your insight! You are brilliant! I’ve just watched my first video of yours and I love that you use a skeleton head as your base!

  10. Hi there Jonni.
    how do you make the clay/ sculpture waterproof so that it can stand outside?
    Kind regards

    • I have never found a way to make a paper-based sculpture waterproof. Some people claim you can use marine varnish, but it failed miserably when I tried it. I’m now using either concrete of epoxy clay for all outside sculptures.

      If you’re making something for a temporary holiday display, the varnish should work well enough, as long as you dry it out completely after bringing it back inside. In my experience, and that of other readers, the paper mache clay will soften when it gets damp, but it will harden back up if you dry it out again. But this is just for temporary displays, not for permanent outdoor sculptures!

Comments are closed.