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

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

  1. Hi Jonni,

    How do you hang your masks? I do not see any holes punched on the sides? Also, do you have any suggestions for what types of elastic/string to use the make the mask wearable? Do you hole punch the sides or is there a better way?

    Thanks for sharing your knowledge!


    • Hi Angela. I usually put a flat piece of cardboard on the back, and put a hole in that so it can be put over a nail on the wall. I haven’t tested many varieties of elastic – I just use show laces to tie my masks under my chin. And I have tried using a hole punch, but after the paper mache is on the hole punch isn’t strong enough to cut through it. I use a 1/4″ drill bit, or just cut a hole with a sharp knife.
      Have fun making your masks! :)

      • Thank you very much for your support and for sharing your knowledge! I’m off to get joint compound and flexible spatulas for my high school students this morning.

        If you don’t mind, please show me a photo of the back of the mask, so I can get an idea of how you attach the cardboard and and shoe laces. Do you glue the cardboard in?

        That part is still a bit perplexing to me.

        Thanks again!

        • Hi Angela. I don’t get fancy with the laces. I just cut or punch a hole in the cardboard and paper mache, and put a washer on the shoelace. Then I thread the shoelace through the hole. I put the cardboard pieces together with tape, but I don’t think that’s what your asking. I sometimes reinforce the inside of the mask with a scrap of cardboard, and I do use glue to keep it in place. Here’s what the shoelace looks like:
          mask with shoelace

          • Thank you Jonni!

            Over 100 high school students saw your video today and they started adding joint compound to their masks! We are so excited to experiment with this new material.

            What a great idea to add washers to reinforce the mask holes. I’m going to buy some tomorrow!

            Thanks again Jonni! I truly appreciate your support and advice.

  2. Hello,

    I’ve used your original recipe years ago and still have the decorative bowls I made. Love it.

    Would you mind making a full rooster? I saw the one on your YouTube channel, but I’d like to make a whole one for one of my grandsons.

    Thank you.

  3. Hi Jonni i want to ask you about your new deer did you put some fake eye lashes or not? I was looking for photos of white-tailed deers and i noticed that they have actually pretty tall eyelashes . And i have a question as well, i don’t have an “aqualon wisp” brush( i don’t know if this is the correct name?) so how can paint the fur ? I tired doing it with a small dry brush and i was painting each single hair but this will take for ever and i wasn’t really happy with the way they came out they were pretty thick even though the brush is small. As well i want to ask you if i can make some additional fur texture on it by using the tissue paper to make very thin wrinkles?

    • Hi Sam. I haven’t put the eyelashes on the deer yet, but I do intend to do it – I just haven’t done it yet. I’ve been a little busy. :)

      And I don’t know of any way to make the fur marks quickly without one of those wispy brushes. The only other way I know how to do it is one hair at a time, and it does take a lot of time.

  4. Jonni,

    You are a wonderful instructor , I like the way you talk through your process, the person taking videos is in focus, even the clothing color gives a contrast to the subject you are demonstrating. your voice is sometimes animated which increases the intrest in your demonstration

    …what was I talking about?
    You have a broad range of the subject on paper mache and the optional formulas, keep up the good work.

  5. Hi jonni i was covering a sculpture with paper strips and paste and i don’t know why the paste wasn’t stiky , i made the cooked flour and water paste exactly the same way i do every time but it wasn’t sticking so much and the edges weren’t melting together so if i start adding glue to the paste will it stick better ?

    • Why don’t you just start over? The paste recipe only uses a couple of tablespoons of flour. I have no idea why it wouldn’t be sticky, but perhaps you cooked it too long? If it isn’t sticky now, adding glue will just dilute the glue, so maybe you should just use glue, or make another batch of paste.

  6. Hi there, I hope you’re doing well. I’m undertaking a large paper mache project for Halloween this year and I have a question regarding the amount of material I need to get. I’m wanting to use the flour based method, and I need enough to cover 262 sq ft. How many pounds of flour do you think I would need to purchase?

    • I have no idea – I’ve never done any experiments to find out something like that. Why not just make up a batch of your favorite paper mache paste and start covering your sculpture. A batch of the cooked flour and water paste only uses 2 tablespoons of flour (and I don’t recommend making up a huge batch, because it loses its stickiness after 24 hours and you’ll need to make a new batch). After you use up your first bowl of paste you’ll easily see how much more you will probably need for your project. Have fun with it!!!

  7. Hi jonni, years ago i saw a guest post or a post on daily sculptors page about life sized maybe lions or tigers or cheetahs and one of them was standing on a rock and they were outdoor sculptures. Can you help me find this post cause i’ve been searching a lot and i haven’t found it

    • Hi Sam. It wasn’t made to be put on the wall, but it would be easy to use it that way. Just put all the pieces together, and then determine how much of the cap portion you want to cut off. You can cut it straight if you put a string around it and then draw the straight line. You can make a flat back by putting the newly cut head on a piece of paper, and just draw around it. Use corrugated cardboard for the flat back, and just put paper around the edge, and not over the entire back. Flat cardboard likes to warp when you put paper mache on it. Have fun! :)

    • Hi jonni, years ago i saw a guest post or a post on daily sculptors page about life sized maybe lions or tigers or cheetahs and one of them was standing on a rock and they were outdoor sculptures. Can you help me find this post cause i’ve been searching a lot and i haven’t found it

  8. Hi Jonni,
    I’m an art teacher, I have used your paper clay recipes and love it. I have a question, I LOVED the Elmer’s Paper Mache mix for my students. But it has been discontinued. Do you have a like product recipe?

    • The only substitute I’ve found is methylcellulose. It’s food grade, and it was one of the main ingredients in the Elmer’s Art Paste. I have two posts about how to use methylcellulose – this one shows how to mix it (although some people thought I should have used hot water instead) and this one shows how to mix it again if you want to use it after it’s been sitting on a shelf for a few days. If you try it, let us know how it works out in the classroom. :)

  9. Hi jonni
    I have another question about the giraffe, i’ve done taping pattern pieces and now i’m making the mane, and i liked the idea of crumblimg long pieces of aluminum foil and then attaching them but i found that it’s so hard to cover the foil with masking tape because it’s crumbled and my tape quality isn’t that good so it will tear just and hour later and i don’t want to lose the hairy and wavy look so if i did something similar to the mane in the horse sculpture and made it way shorter and more straight and used wool thread to make kinda thicker hair, will it work?

  10. Hi Jonnie I was wondering if I could paint my dinosaur sculpture about 4 feet long not including its tail, with liquid latex rubber after using the following… framework made from wood and metal then aluminium wire, then aluminium foil, then masking tape, then paper mache using wood glue then painting with acrylic paints and then latex rubber to seal it and make it feel kinda real?
    My kindest regards Susan

  11. Hello Joni,
    I’m painting my giraffe, but I have a question? Where are the eyes made off, they look so shinny!

    • I used a foam ball inside, covered it with paper mache and painted it. It looks shiny because I like to use fingernail polish on the eyes.
      I hope we get to see your giraffe when it’s done! :)

  12. I’m looking to create small handheld figures from papier mâché, and I’ve seen a number of different methods on this page and elsewhere but was wondering which would be the best for small parts.

  13. Hi Everyone, I am new here. I have just poured a moonface round in quickcrete and was wondering if I could do the paper cement feature now that it’s half cured?



Leave a Comment