Baby Paper Mache Rhino, Masking Tape, etc.

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The sun is hiding today, so I grabbed a few indoor minutes to work on the rhino. Still far from done, as you can see. With a project this big, it takes a lot of paper, a lot of masking tape, and a lot of reference photos. A bit more free time would help, too.

Speaking of masking tape – is it my imagination, or has the price gone up? I spent almost 20 bucks yesterday for 4 rolls. And the tape keeps tearing when I don’t want it to. I started the taping with a different brand I had on hand, but it wouldn’t stick – there were so many loose ends hanging down that it looked like I was making a wooly rhino. Do you have any recommendations? I want to find the perfect tape that sticks enough, but not so sticky that you can’t move things if you need to — and with paper that’s strong enough, but not so strong that you need to tear it with you teeth. If you found that tape, please let me know.

And one last thing — I received an email yesterday from someone who has a very common, and understandable dream. But is it possible?  I hope it is, for her sake, but I’m just not sure. Here’s the story:

Kate and her husband would like to buy a home of their own, but it looks like home prices are still high in the UK. Kate is hoping she can come up with a down payment by making and selling her paper mache birds. Lots and lots of them.

Is this an impossible dream? She gave me permission to post her idea to see what you think. My advice to her was to raise the price so fewer birds were needed, and then make sure there’s a real buying market before investing too much time on the idea. It might be more practical, but much less fun, to get a second job. After I answered her email, two more thoughts occurred to me — first, this might not be the best time to buy a house since prices are still coming down, and if buying instead of renting is what they really have their hearts set on, they might want to look at much less expensive properties, even if it means they need to move to another area. That, of course, is not what she was asking.

So now I’m asking you — have you ever dreamed of making a bundle of money fast with your artwork? If so, did you ever figure out a way to make it work?  I’d really like to hear what you have to say.

Let’s see — how many rhinos would it take to pay off that credit card…

34 thoughts on “Baby Paper Mache Rhino, Masking Tape, etc.”

  1. This conversation back in 2011 was about masking tape. Since then, has any really good masking tape ever turn up? If so, what kind? I am getting ready to purchase some……does 3M make masking tape? Their products are usually great quality.

    Janice in northern Minnesota

    • Hi Janice. I happened to find my new favorite brand at my local small-town grocery store, of all places. The brand is Tartan, and if you don’t happen to live in my small town, the cheapest place to order it online is Home Depot. https://tinyurl.com/ypa2s9mv 79¢ for a roll. It doesn’t seem to curl up on the corners, which is the most aggravating thing about using masking tape for sculptures. 🙂

      • Thanks Jonni……

        Since I have never paper mache’d in my life, I am trying to make sure I do this the correct way. I am almost finished with my giraffe’s head. I must admit that I was really stumped a few times. I did the best I could. Grin Consequently, I want to make sure I do a very good job on the masking tape so I cover up all of the tiny spaces I might have left here and there. I am still holding my breath on if the lower lip stays put. If not, she just might not have a lower lip. Grin I totally enjoyed working on the giraffe head yesterday. I am hoping to finish it over the weekend. Today is sunny and warm, and I plan to be outside for the rest of the day, in my flower gardens! Thanks again Jonni!!!!! Janice

  2. I have an idea for the pinecones! If you make a fortune, will you think of me? 🙂 You can dip them in fat and add peanuts and add a piece so you can hang m upside down from a tree. It is for birds in wintertime.

  3. I’ve been fighting with my masking tape as well. I have this brand called “Shurtape” and it doesn’t stick worth anything. My sculpture is looking a mummy that’s unraveling. I’m pretty sure I got this brand at the Dollar Tree. 😛

    I had an old roll of Scotch masking tape that stuck MUCH better.

  4. I have the exact same problem. I bought some cheap masking tape that i found doesn’t stick at all. At first i went around pasting the loose ends back down, but i realized there’s no point. I’m just wondering how did you solve the problem?


    • I bought a different brand that seems to work slightly better, although it traded the non-sticky problem for a tearing problem. I wonder if the manufacturers are changing their formulas or paper weight so they can reduce their costs without making it obvious?

  5. hi, love your baby rhino! that was so cute! i make pinatas, i mostly do them for friends and family, so i only charge $20…which isn’t much when i do huge detailed dragons,etc…i would love to some day sell mine on the internet, but i have no idea how to get started. my youngest child will be off to college this fall, and i will be all alone, perfect time to start building my collection of pinatas and other crafts…i also need to come up with a money making idea for pine cones..as i just moved to the middle of a national forest and have to pick the pine cones up anyway on a regular basis, might as well put them to use right?? are there companies that buy these pine cones from small timers like me, do you know?? if so, i would love to know, i have millions of them!

    • Hmm – does anyone have any suggestions for Leila? I have no idea who would buy the pine cones, unless it was a craft place that makes wreaths. The pinatas sound nice – can you show us a photo of that dragon pinata? I’d love to see it.

  6. Hi Jonni,

    I love your work and your website! You are so generous with sharing your knowledge and your support.

    I’ve been sculpting in paper mache for a few years. Even so, I know I have a lot to learn! I recycle magazine pages and use methyl cellulose as the adhesive. I love how the glue handles – it goes on so smoothly, dries crystal clear, is archival, and doesn’t leave my hands all sticky. My sculpting instructor sold me some a few years ago and I have not been able to locate any since. If you know where I can get some, that’d be super.

    What I’m looking for is information on how to protect my pieces, which I don’t paint. I notice that my older pieces from 5 years ago are yellowing. I want to protect my projects from UV light. Do you have any suggestions or recommendations>


  7. Re: Masking Tape … I buy mine in the contractor’s packs from the big box stores (also can sometimes find a good deal at costco) … but for large projects I find it cheaper and easier to use enough masking tape to hold the shape together, and then use strip mache to make a solid layer on which to put the clay. I use a variation of the multi-layer strip method that Monique Robert uses, so I can get several layers of strips on in a pretty quick amount of time.

    I tend to make my pieces hollow, so spend a little more time on the strip mache phase. But if you’re just using it as a tape alternative, you could do it really quickly. It does add a day or so to the drying time before you can start the clay layer. But I’m typically working on multiple pieces so something else is usually dry and ready for clay.

  8. Back to the discussion of making a living or a lot of $ from paper mache, thought you might like to see the website of someone who has done so pretty successfully. I first saw him profiled on HGTV’s Carol Duvall show. He can command a lot of $ for his work since he’s got an impressive client list I guess. According to an article on his website, he started with a fish, sold it for $200 and realized he might be on to something. It seems to have worked out for him. http://www.markbeam.com/


  9. Hi Jonni
    I mentioned once before that masking tape in my part of Australia is expensive, so I use the clear packing tape, ( wide clear tape, like sticky tape, but wider). This is the same price as the masking tape here, but 4 times as much on a roll.
    I only use this on big objects, then when ready, it gets either one last layer of masking tape. or just

    • oops wrong button pushed there.. to continue.. or one or two layers of ordinary paper flour Pm, which sticks fine to the plastic tape.
      The only trouble I have, is its a bit difficult to see the actual shape of th work, as all you can see is the scrunched up newpaper as the tape is clear.
      But a bit of practice and you get used to it.
      Hope this helps.

      • I’m just about to try that. There’s masking tape over most of my sculpture, but it just won’t stay down so i was thinking about switching to brown packing tape now. I was a little unsure how well the paper mache would stick to it, but you said it’s no problem so i’ll try it 🙂

  10. Hi Jonni!
    This is my first post to your site, but I have been a regular visitor as I have worked through my project. ( a giant egg, to take pictures of my grandbabies sitting in) I did not get finished in time for Easter, but we’ll still be taking those pictures anyway.
    I digress…Masking tape is really expensive and the cheap stuff I bought would not even stick to itself. After several evenings of coming home to find my work all falling apart, I decided to use one of my top ten favorite products – duct tape!
    After it was all finished I added a layer of masking tape in one continuous piece and then a layer of paper mache. The last will be a layer of your paper mache clay, which I am off to make now. Keeping my fingers crossed, if this works you will have saved me the $200 cost of buying one of these eggs. Thanks!

    • Hi Teri. My first thought after reading your comment was “duct tape – what a great idea!” My second thought was “Whoa! People pay $200 for a big paper mache egg?” (I’m envisioning the factory in my basement as we speak…)

      I can’t wait to see how your egg tuned out. Even if it wasn’t ready this year, it would still make a fabulous keepsake photo. And we definitely want to see it.

      • Jonni,

        I sent 3 pictures of my egg with the “Practical Paper Mache” submission form. It seemed to work, let me know if you did not get them. Talk about under the wire, sent them late last night. But you were right about the deadline and motivation, it may still have not been finished. I have one more picture of another stage in the process if you want it.

        • I did get the egg photos, Teri. Thanks! In fact, you’re not the only one who was motivated by the deadline, so I have quite a few new projects to put up on our Practical Paper Mache page. As soon as that’s done, I’ll start working on the ebook.

          I’ve been a little distracted lately because I volunteered to build a new social network site for a local group that’s trying to form a Transition Town initiative here in La Grande. It turns out that making a site with lots of social functions isn’t all that hard – I’d do it with this site if I could figure out why we would need all those functions. But anyhoo – today I’ll work on getting your egg and all the other projects posted.

          • Oh – I forgot to answer your question. Yes, you can send in as many photos as you want. Just put them on the form and send it in – that way, all the submissions stay in one place on my computer and I won’t lose anything. Thanks!

            • Hi Jonni
              I only saw 3 spaces to add pictures. The fourth is just the egg after the paper mache strips are added. Let me know if you want it for the book and how to submit it now that I have already sent the other 3.

            • You’re right – the form only has three spaces for photos, but you can use the form more than once. I think it would be nice to have the photo of the egg at a later stage. My dad and stepmother loved your egg, by the way 🙂

  11. As far as masking tape goes, I try to buy mine at the local discount / closeout store. I try not to spend more than $2 a roll.

    One that they have that seems to work well is made by ipg, intertape polymer group. Made in the USA! http://www.itape.com I am guessing what I have is the utility grade.

    I don’t know if you have any discount stores near you but I would definitely check them out for tape.

    Lisa 🙂

  12. I make paper mache masks…but I’m not very prolific as I work from 8-5 and I’m pooped at the end of the day. If I were to retire I’d be paid half my current salary which isn’t really enough to live on. I’d love to be able to market my work and bring in enough money each month so that my retiring wouldn’g be such a burden on the household. I’d love to try out selling on ebay or etsy before I even THINK about leaving my job.

    • Sandra, that’s exactly what I did before quitting my job and doing web publishing full time. I started making websites and building the business while I still had an income from my job. Since I enjoyed it, I didn’t mind working long hours after work. Then, once I did quite the “real” job, my publishing business gave me enough spare time to play with paper mache. Both web publishing and paper mache are creative enterprises – and both are risky business if you don’t know the ropes. I definitely agree that your plan is a good one. But it does require a lot of commitment, since you already have so many things to do.

      I hope you are taking photos of your masks – we’d love to see them. And if you’re thinking about building a website (which you would want to do even if you officially sell on etsy or eBay) you can find my instructions for doing that easily here. Good luck!

      • Hi Jonni and Kate.
        I find where you sell your work makes a big impact on the price. I usually work with recycled corrugated iron, if I sell things at markets or local art shows, the price that I can get for my work is small. But if I place them in bigger art shows, (where people with money go), I can get a lot more for them. Not a fortune mind you, but enough to make it worth while.
        I do not sell my art, and make a living off it, have the yucky real job to live on, but it makes a nice boost to the income. I have included a pic of once of my pieces, just as an example, could not sell it for a year at lower price, put it in a more up market show, (which did cost more money to enter, but was worth it) and sold it for double the original price I was asking. Some times it is not worth undervaluing your work.
        Being a single female, I had trouble getting enough get a deposit for a house, the way I went about it, was hard, but worth while in the end.
        I worked 2 jobs. 7 days a weeks, for 4 years, and I lived in a small shed on a friends property, she was 90 years old and did not want to move out of her house, but could not stay there alone. So it was a win win for both of us. I did pay a token rent, just to cover utilities, but it was a pittance.
        It was hard, but they only way I was going to be able to afford a deposit. There are ways of going about getting enough for a deposit, but they need hard work, commitment, and thinking outside the box.
        iron eagle sculpture
        Chris . Australia

  13. After hitting the submit button, I checked out a few more of the tutorials on Kate’s site. She makes some wonderful wax carvings for jewelry – perhaps pewter castings, (no silver, obviously, at $45 an ounce!), and sold at a local street fair. It would still take a lot of time to make that down payment, but there might be more buyers. What do you think?


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