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

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

  1. If the joint compound isn’t 100% smooth, will the gesso smooth it out?
    Glad I found you. Great tips/information.

    • Hi Joanne. The easiest way to make joint compound smooth is to ‘sand’ it with a lightly damp sponge. The gesso will help seal it, and make a nice surface for painting.

  2. Hi Jonni,
    I have a question for you. Will joint compound stick to crumpled aluminum foil? I am making swirly antlers on a deer and it would be much easier to just have one layer on the foil so it isn’t so heavy. The deer is about a foot long so the antlers aren’t huge.


    • Very few things stick to aluminum foil, so I don’t think it would work. The joint compound also has no structural strength, so if the antlers are bumped or flex at all, the joint compound would probably shatter. It might be easier to use very thin strips of paper and paste to cover the foil on the antlers.

      • I did an experiment and the joint compound did stick and seems relatively hard but like you say, if it were bumped hard, I’m sure it would break. If I use very thin strips of paper, I would have to do thin strips of masking tape first so the paper would stick I’m thinking. Also the piece probably should be upside down while working so the weight wouldn’t pull it down. The antlers are just a little bigger around than a pencil. Every piece has problem solving and that is good for our learning skills. Thanks

  3. Hi Jonni,
    I was wondering what happens to the older photo postings that are past page 62. Is there a library of older photos posted someone could access? I’m thinking not.

    • Before the new form was installed a few years ago, we had a system that allowed us to post photos in a comment. Unfortunately, the comments can’t be searched, so there are older photos in comments on lots of different pages, but it’s almost impossible to find them. 🙁

  4. I see many projects of puppets or puppet people using paper mache ideas, this has been a source for them many years. Today, I am whithering away in my age, maybe from mother’s history unsaved from old time pasts. This is now today in a unrecovery area, of many troubles, unable to mend again. Hobby like puppets I feel happy to see then, next to make them work. I need some more support, and encouragement to stay proper and fit. This helps me change my life, better moods, and seeing some fun, thanks!

    • Go for it, John ! I am 86, and just beginning a new direction for my art, thanks to the chance in the spring of 2021, and happening onto this site to research and learn how to refurbish an 8′ lion for our local Lions’ Club. Now, I’m sculpting my own 6′ plus lion on my own with no help—just to prove I can sculpt the portraits of the Bible as I’ve always wanted to do. My son says, “Do what makes you happy. Don’t let discouragement or lack of knowledge keep you from learning how to do what you know is right and good for you”. Puppets sound like lots of fun. If I ever find the time to do puppets I would like to try that “new” direction, myself. Have a blessed day and as Jonni says, “—and go have fun.” Pat Thompson

  5. Hi All you Paper Mâchérs ,
    I have an older Mac and a lot of the photos on this site don’t show up. You get the box with the little blue question mark. I’ve tried the on-line fixes and nothing really works. I was wondering if any other Mac users have this problem?

    • I had no other way to make a comment, but to reply on someone’s post. I have followed the recipe to the tea, but I used a dry joint compound and it added up to the 200 g and my clay is super sticky I continuously keep adding cornstarch or flour, and it just absorbs it and stays sticky. What could I be doing wrong?

      • Hi Tia. Which recipe are you using? If you’re making the air dry clay or the original paper mache clay, the recipe calls for pre-mixed drywall joint compound, not the dry version. Still, it shouldn’t be terribly sticky, although the clay should be sticky enough to apply, with a knife, to an armature. If it isn’t at all sticky you can’t get a thin layer. Is it possible that you didn’t squeeze out enough water after soaking the paper?

  6. Hi Jonni. Have you made and used cold porcelain clay? Is it durable? I saw a recipe on line that uses corn starch and pva glue. I was just wondering how it works compared to your silky smooth air dry clay.

  7. Hi Jonny,
    I shortly found your webpage and your recipe of the glue
    just to mention an other Idea (and please excuse my bad english)
    I do a lot of Papiermaché with “real” Paper Stripes for 5-6 Years now, small things, furnitur and even a Rockingchair…

    Glue: I did it all the time with the raw one with a little change of your recipe– and I cannot feel that it is “white” –
    Maybe you have changed the description somewhere too … I couldnot find it…
    I mix just litte water to the flower, to get a smoothe paste – and than right enough HOT boiling water right out of the Cattle – stir it – and it is perfect for using – and it is NOT white after drying.
    The only trick is, to ad the right amount of hot water.
    If you want to make a very small aount (like a small Glass or less) than it ist really difficult – because if it is too less hot water, it will not become a smoot glue, if it is too much water, it will not stick well, or the papers get too wett 🙂
    But if you do a Big glas (like 500 ml or more) – it is easy to ad even more water to find the right consitency…
    And I apply the glue with a small brush like
    – “painting” the glue on the sculpture
    – applying the paperstrip
    – and again smoothing the papers with the brush
    in this manner – Idont need to put my fingers into the glue all the time.
    To sculpure the form of course I do. And I love the WARM glue.

    And over all-I love your Animals, they look so naturaly!

  8. Hi… i’ve been working with papier-mâché for about 10 years on and off using the old fashion strip and flower paste method. I love the idea of your papier-mâché clay but I’m wondering can I combine it with the old method and can you use it without a foil base?

    • Hi Donna. Yes, you can use it, in a thin layer, over any armature that you would normally use for your paper and paste. You can also use a layer or two of the paper and paste, and then use the paper mache clay for details. Play with it for awhile, and you’ll see how versatile it is. Have fun! 🙂

    • Hi Donna. I use the old strips and glue all the time. At times I’ve used the paper clay to round out an area and then put the strips over the top and also the reverse of this. It all works. You’ll see.

      • thanks!! I’ll try it. I just have to figure out how to make a good clay… my first attempt wasn’t smooth at all.

  9. Hi Jonni, I am just starting out following you and so very glad I found you on YouTube! ?
    I have previously done work with hypertufa and had so much fun!
    I made my first casting using your outdoor clay recipe and still waiting for them to cure. I’ll post photos once they’re done.
    I’m wondering about using an oil for releasing your recipe like I do with hypertufa and to possibly adding some vermiculite and sifted peat moss to your recipe as I use it with my hypertufa. What are your thoughts?

    • I have no experience at all with hypertufa, and I’ve only made a few things with this paper cement clay recipe. Your thoughts on it would be far more useful than mine, I’m sure. 🙂
      If you do try any of your ideas, I hope you’ll let us know how they turn out.

    • I used hypertufa a long time ago. It is ok for a rough appearance but Jonni’s recipe is much finer and details will show cleanly. Maybe your hypertufa recipe is different than what I used. The one I used was for making plant pots outside and eventually they broke.


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