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

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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

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

  1. 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?

    • 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. 🙂

  2. 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!!

    • 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.

      • 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 ?

    • 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

  3. 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.

    • 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.

  4. 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?

    • 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.

  5. 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!

    • 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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