15% OFF PATTERN ORDERS OF $30 OR MORE – USE CODE: 15%OffOver30

Paper Mache – for Beautiful Sculptures and Masks

This is a reader-supported site. When you buy through links on this site, I may earn an affiliate commission. Thanks for your support! 🙂

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

Masks and Sculptures Made by Our Readers:

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

  1. Hi, I’m looking for some advice please.
    This year I’m looking to make an outdoor cauldron with paper mache (pasting paper mache to an exercise ball to get the size and shape), however, I’ve bee told that using the flour mix could attract mites if not sealed or stored properly. Would you recommend the water & pva glue mix, or water and wood glue and then varnished with a wood glue to seal and added protection? Thanks in advance, Carl

    Reply
    • Hi Carl. First, paper mache is not at all waterproof, so if you put it outside you’ll need to seal it. That’s whether you have mites or not. I don’t know if your mites will be able to smell the flour through a coating of glue – but I don’t think wood glue would waterproof the paper mache. We don’t have flour-eating mites where I live, so you might want to ask a local artist for advice about that. A good polyurethane varnish will seal it well enough to be outside for a few days, although your paper mache will soften a little. It will usually dry out again when you bring it back inside. If you’ll be leaving it outside longer, check out Linda’s guest post here.

      Reply
      • Hi Jonni. Thanks so much for your reply. My mistake at the end, meant to say about sealing it with a wood varnish (exterior), not wood glue…it’s what you get from rattling out a message when only 2 minutes left of your break! The link your shared to Linda’s post was really interesting. I might go for the pva or wood glue and water mix and then the waterproofing method Linda recommends. Halloween 2021 was ok here in Wales, but last year we had rain, so i want something that will be ok until we can get a cover over the cauldron if the weather turns bad suddenly

        Reply
  2. Hi jhonny sorry for asking again but my comment haven’t been sent i want to buy your patterns i’m from lebanon and i’m trying with my visa debit card and with my credit card and they aren’t working so what can i do

    Reply
    • Hi Sam. I sent an email with my reply, in case you can’t access the replies here on the site. My only answer is that you may need to use PayPal instead of your card, if your bank doesn’t want to process a payment to a company outside Lebanon. I’ve had that problem myself, when I’ve tried to buy British software. I could use my card through PayPal. I hope this helps. 🙂

      Reply
      • The biggest problem actually is that we don’t have paypal in lebanon so as you say maybe my bank don’t process a payment outside lebanon so the problem as i think is from the bank not thr card so i’ll try again later and if there’s another way please let me know and thank you for your support ?

        Reply
  3. I was hoping that you would be willing to advise me on pricing my work. Although I am not a professional artist, I have just finished my 3rd sculpture. This is the first piece that I’d like to try & sell. I have no idea the amount of time I have put into it because it started out as something I wanted to try just for fun, & randomly chipped away at over the course of a couple years. I have pics available.

    Reply
    • Hi Jeni. I’m not an expert in pricing, and I haven’t shown my work at an art fair or gallery in years. But the best way to find a good price for your work is to do some market research. Find some similar work on etsy.com or on another site where people sell their work, and see how much they charge. It’s rather important to know how long it takes to make an item, though, if you ever intend to make more of them for sale. It’s easy to charge way too little, and make less than minimum wage. The best book I’ve read on the subject of profit for small businesses is Profit First by Mike Michalowicz. I completely changed my business after reading that book. 🙂

      By the way, if you’d like to show off your work and get advice from more people, you can share some photos on the Daily Sculptors page.

      Reply
  4. I completed my project which was a life-size caveman, using your clay recipe . I don’t think I got the consistency quite right, as I always still have fibres in it. Maybe I didn’t make it thick enough. However, it still dried hard. If I knew how to send you a picture of the finished product , I would. I am very pleased with the final result.

    Reply
      • Not a reply but just a thank you for inspiring me to create my beautiful horse head, at 74 I love undoable projects, I am making a sit on horse out of a pommel. I’ve sculpted the legs and am now doing the head, I’m very picky it must be exactly like a real horse, so I’ve rewound your videos over and over again picking up little ideas and ways and means, the eyes lips nose were a great help.
        Your an inspiration and make it fun, not too technical we can all understand you make it simple on purpose altho it’s quite complicated a great art in itself. I have enjoyed doing my horse immensely each little step fel like a great achievement, can’t wait to Finnish and start another one. Val

        Reply
  5. Hi jhonny how are you. I have a question for you, can i make the wolf sculpture by using cereal box cardboard instead of corrugated cardboard ? Because i don’t have a corrugated cardboard that is thin i have some very thick ones from other projects

    Reply
  6. Hello, Jonni.
    Do you have a pattern I could retrofit to make a puffin mask for a young child?
    Thanks!
    Barbara

    Reply
  7. Hi Jonni, I am making a Grizzly Bear mask for my husband, but he has a huge Norwegian head and the mask pattern is too small (for him, it fits me just fine!). I’m looking for ideas on how to make it bigger without reprinting the whole pattern 20% larger. I’m thinking of adding an extra set of pieces 30 & 31, but am open to other ideas. Thank you for this amazing pattern! I’m really looking forward to seeing how this works out.

    Reply
    • Hi Talia. The easiest way to make the cap portion bigger is to carefully cut through the center seam at the back. Let your husband try it on so you can see how large the gap is with the seam open. Then put a piece of the cardboard on the inside of the mask and trace a triangle that will fit into the open space. Cut out the new piece and tape it on.

      I hope you’ll show it off on the Daily Sculptors page when it’s done. We would love to see how it turns out! 🙂

      Reply
  8. Can you tell me where to get a wire roll that’s the same stiffness as coat hanger wire? I tried the thickest modeling wire I could find but it’s still too flexible. I’ve been using coat hangers but it takes time to cut them all up.

    Reply
    • Years ago I bought a roll of wire at a farm supply store, and I still have a lot of it left. This wire looks like the roll I bought, and according to some sites I found on Google, it’s the same gauge as coat hangers. I do also have some aluminum wire made for artists, and it’s way more flexible than the steel wire. It’s not easy to bend the steel wire precisely without tools, although you can bend it by hand. I hope this helps! 🙂

      Reply
  9. Hi Joni,
    I was wondering if you ever used strips of fabric for your paper mache? I’m just starting to get back to paper mache after a very long hiatus. Years ago I experimented with thin strips of fabric with various outcomes. Your thoughts?

    Reply
    • Hi Mardi. I haven’t done that myself, but Dan Reeder, the dragon-maker, does that all the time. I think he dips pieces of old sheets into diluted Elmer’s Glue-All, and always uses the cloth mache for the last layer of his sculptures. He does some amazing work with that method. What kind of sculptures do you make?

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

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • hi,i have found that if you lay a peice of Cling-Film onto a surface that you want to be smooth you will be able to gently rub,with a wet finger or small sponge until u are happy. for awkward areas use a pencil like a rolling pin. you can even draw in detail gently and when you peel off the film the detail will stay. if you make a mistake,simply remove the cling film and start again. dont leave the Film on the mache as eventually the glue will dry and damage ur model when pulled off but this wont occur for hours

        Reply
  11. 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.

    Thanks

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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

        Reply
  12. 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.
    Thanks

    Reply
    • 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. 🙁

      Reply
  13. 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!

    Reply
    • 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

      Reply
  14. 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?

    Reply
    • 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?

      Reply
      • 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?

        Reply
  15. 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.

    Reply
  16. Hi Jonny,
    I shortly found your webpage and your recipe of the glue
    and
    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!

    Reply
  17. 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?

    Reply
    • 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! 🙂

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
      • 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.

        Reply
  18. 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?

    Reply
    • 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.

      Reply
    • 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.

      Reply

Leave a Comment