Create realistic animal decor and masks with my easy-to-use patterns.​

Now, you can sculpt beautiful, long-lasting animal sculptures and masks – even if you’ve never sculpted anything before. It’s easy with my templates, some cardboard, and a layer of paper mache. Get started today – you’ll soon have a delightful work of art that your family will treasure for years.

DIY Deer wall sculptureThis is not the paper mache you remember from grade school!

When done right, paper mache is strong and durable. In fact, it’s common to find paper mache sculptures that are over 100 years old in antique stores. Many galleries show original paper mache art that sells for thousands of dollars.

The big “secret” is to treat your paper mache sculptures and masks like fine art – because that’s what they are. After all, you pour your heart and soul into making them, so you want them to last.

“My very first attempt at anything to do with paper mache. It’s for a Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe display at the primary school where I work. Without the pattern I wouldn’t have known where to start, so thank you so much.”

Yasmine

Here’s how to make long-lasting paper mache sculptures and masks:

Pattern for giraffe sculpture
Print the pattern, stick to cardboard, and cut it out.
Template for Giraffe Sculpture
Tape the pieces together. You may also need foam balls for eyes, raffia for a mane, or foil for horns or antlers.
giraffe add paper mache
Add paper strips and paste, or paper mache clay. (I often use both).
Paint your paper mache masterpiece.
Bring your new sculpture to life with acrylic paint.

My Famous Paper Mache Clay Recipe…

Wolf mask template patternI created the recipe for paper mache clay over 10 years ago.

The free recipe and the easy methods I teach for creating animal sculptures have now been used by millions of people from all over the world. 

You just spread paper mache clay on your armature like a thin layer of buttercream frosting. No paper strips to tear, no messy paste, and no annoying edges of paper strips showing on the finished sculpture. After it dries it’s extremely hard and durable.

I’ve used this 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

This Month’s Best-Selling Patterns:

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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5 best recipes for paper mache

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

  1. Hi Jonni, I’m in need of a life size pelican. I’ve look everywhere and found the price is ridiculous so I’ve decided to try and make a paper mache one. I’ve searched for a pattern with no luck. Can you help? Thanks Terri

    Reply
  2. Here’s an updated on my Milk Turn ~ and yes I finally figured it out and I’ve managed to colour it too!!

    Reply
  3. I am in awe of your art!!! I am going to try to attempt the baby elephant for our VBS thIs year but I really love the face of you wall elephant is there a way to put the to of them together that would look right? I don’t think I would have time to do it twice if it didn’t work out. Thanks

    Reply
    • Hi Christy. That’s an interesting idea, and one that nobody has ever asked me before. It should be possible, but the sizes are different. The wall sculpture pattern is about 8 1/2″ high at the neck, and the standing elephant is about 12 1/2″ at the neck. If the wall sculpture pattern is printed larger, or the standing elephant pattern is drawn smaller, I think it would work. If you opted to print the wall elephant larger you’d probably need to get your local print shop to do it for you. Most home printers won’t work with larger paper. And I’m math challenged, so I’m afraid you’d need to work out the percentages yourself.

      However, if I did it, I think I’d start with the wall sculpture as it is, tape it all together, and then lay it on a very large piece of cardboard and trace around the outside edge. Then you’d have a good idea how much smaller to draw the standing elephant pattern. If you do this, I really hope you’ll let us see how it turns out!

      Reply
  4. I would like to make “boulders” with funny faces on. them. I may start with an 18 inch sphere and add materials to make it a little bigger and to have enough depth to sculpt the face. These will go in the garden. What materials should I use, and in what order
    , so they are weather-proof?

    Reply
    • Hi Susan. I don’t know of any product containing paper that is waterproof, except paper-crete, a concrete mix. Some people have used Flex Seal for their outdoor paper mache sculptures, but they haven’t had them outside long enough to know how long they really last. If a bird pecks even a pinhole through the plastic film water will get in and destroy your beautiful sculpture. For small sculptures to go outside I use epoxy clay, (my favorite is Apoxie Sculpt).

      For larger pieces, you might want to use Pal Tiya. Eileen wrote a very nice tutorial showing us how to use it.

      Reply
  5. Hi Jonni

    I just found you on YouTube for the first time. WOW your amazing! Since I haven’t seen all your material yet, I was wondering have you ever done a flamingo? If not, wouldn’t that be gorgeous!? I collect them and have always wanted to make one but had no idea where to even start. Never thought to check on YT. We did masks with the strips in fifth grade, sure wish I still had it. I also collect giraffe’s and love lions so when I saw your’s that was it for me….love! You have such a gift.

    Thank you, Karen

    Reply
  6. Is it possible to use school glue instead of glue-all? I have a huge supply of white school glue I am hoping to use up.

    Reply
    • Do you mean in the paper mache clay recipe? If that’s what you want to do, you’ll need to test it first. Mix a small amount of the drywall joint compound with an equal amount of the school glue, and see if it gets thick or rubbery. If that happens, it won’t work. If not, it should be fine.

      Reply
  7. Hi Jonni

    I’ve made my first batch of paper mache clay and whilst it’s a little too early to call it a fail, when it drys I think the result will be underwhelming.

    I mixed it up with beaters and it was very stiff and dry. To bring it together I had to add about a cup of water. Once it was all mixed and smooth I added some flour. Probably half a cup!

    You can see from the first pictures it wouldn’t paint on, and it sort of didn’t stick together. I worked it across the surface with my hands and eventually got full coverage nearly to the edges. So then I sprinkled quite a bit of flour across the top and used a small pastry roller to even out the surface. It’ll be a miracle if it works!!

    What do you think I could or should have done to fix the mix please?

    I’m also wondering if clay works on large surfaces or whether I should have stuck to traditional newspaper strips? I’m thinking I may need to apply several layers of newspapers over the clay (once dry) to make sure it sticks together?

    Again, thank you so much for your help.

    Warmest regards – Belle

    Reply
    • Hi Belle. Did you use pre-mixed drywall joint compound (the kind that come in a plastic tub) and was it a brand other than DAP? (DAP joint compound tends to make the pm clay lumpy or stiff). Did you measure the amount of paper that went into the recipe? The next time you make a batch, try using the gram measurements on this page.

      The paper mache clay isn’t supposed to be painted on. You always need to use a knife to spread it onto your armature.

      The paper mache will work on large projects. To keep the weight at a minimum you’ll want to use a very thin layer of the paper mache clay. You can see the dragon I covered with paper mache clay here.

      Reply
      • Thank you for getting back to me so quickly- you must be one very busy lady!

        I’m in Australia and I didn’t see the Dap brand in Bunnings. I used Sellys Spakfilla. There was another brand there so I’ll buy a small pot of that tomorrow and see how I go.

        I’ve only got an older (cheap!) style of scales, not digital, so I didn’t use the gram method. Perhaps this is the perfect excuse to upgrade my kitchen scales!

        Thanks for your advice – Belle

        Reply
        • I don’t think they sell DAP brand in Australia. I’m not familiar with any of your drywall joint compound brands – I hope your next batch comes out better. 🙂

          Reply
  8. Nicholas, are you taking a plaster mold of your face?

    That elephant turned out so great, and using texture paint was brilliant!

    Reply
  9. Hi paper mache community! I’ve really loved this site and have learned a lot, ending up making table decor and other props for three years’ worth of library benefits… everything from Hedwig, Moby Dick, and the leviathan Jules Verne to most of the characters from Alice in Wonderland and reefs and giant seahorses for an under the sea theme. Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Do you have any pictures, Alice in Wonderland sounds so interesting.

      I have been surfing around today and found this site. I’m not sure how I will do, I haven’t sculpted in a very long time. I have a two year art degree but found myself helping designers in fashion design which meant mostly
      receiving customers, watching the front room and sometimes sewing.
      It seems a little less expensive than using “paper clay” or sculpty.
      Oh, I did sculpt one doll, let me see if I have her on this computer, Leanne

      Reply
  10. Hi Jonni ..

    My name is Nicholas.

    A few years ago I followed your advice and plaster of paris mix to do an Alex De Large mark for a fancy dress party. Lots of comments and everyone loved it.
    I am now going a mock up of my own face and am applying the first Gesso coat with no added colour.

    My question to you is can I use water colour paint to add into the gesso mix ?

    Blessing

    Reply
    • Hi Nicholas. Yes, you can add paint or pigment. The color won’t be very bright because the gesso mix is so white, but it does work. Give it a try and see if it works the way you want it to.

      Reply
      • Hi Jonni,

        I’m looking to make a sculpture with paper mache and then paint with encaustic over it. Do you know if the flour and water recipe will work with encaustic? Is the flour and water recipe considered porous? (That’s the main requirement of encaustic) Thanks!

        Reply
        • Hi Roni. The flour and water recipe will absorb water, so that must mean it’s porous. You’d want to do a small test, though, to make sure it works the way you want it to.

          Reply
  11. Hi Jonni, just an update on my very large to be paper mache elephant for my wifes birthday. Large in the way, height is 156cm, 61inches, length is 212cm, 83inches. I’ve ventured off from your plans slightly but I am now up to the paper mache stage, though I’m still thinking to do a layer of masking tape to strengthen it more. Fingers crossed it works.

    Reply
    • Wade, we would love to see that elephant – but I think you tried to upload a photo, and it didn’t work. If you did, it was probably too big. File sizes need to be less than 250 kb to work in the comments. I hope you’ll edit the image and try again. If you don’t have image editing software, you can use this free online tool.

      Reply
    • Hi mate Jonni, hopefully my picture will upload. I’m very happy with the finished product as is my wife. I used pva glue and water, ratio of approximately 2 parts glue to 1 part water. 2 layers of newspaper, 1 layer of paper towel, them painted with a textured exterior paint.

      Reply
  12. Hi I brought the lion head pattern but when I went to print it today I couldn’t as I had left it too late, can you please resend it to me

    Reply
    • Hi Judith. I reset the link so you can download the pattern. Be sure to actually save it to your computer or device, so you can always access it whenever you need to. If you don’t still have the original receipt with the download link, let me know and I’ll resend it.

      Have fun sculpting!

      Reply
  13. I just wanted your ideas please. I just made a small bendable wire amateur. Now, before I apply paper clay over the wire, must I first place glue over the wire before applying this paper clay?
    Thank you

    Reply
    • Hi Quintina. I always create some form of armature over the wire, so only a very thin layer of paper mache clay is needed. Is that what you intend to do?

      Reply
      • I mean that I form the shapes of the sculpture with crumpled paper and masking tape, or crumpled foil and hot glue. This can be placed around the wire so the shapes can be bent into the proper position before the paper mache is added.

        Reply
  14. Olá!, eu amo sua escrita entã? tanto ! compartilhar nós ?star ?m
    contato mais ?obre s?u artigo na AOL? Eu precisa especialista neste
    casa ?ara desvendar meu problema. Talvez é
    você! Dando um? olhada frente perscrutar você.

    Reply
  15. Hi Jonni,
    Wonder if you could help me decide on how to get a smooth effect on my Highland cow horns!
    Thanks
    Pauline

    Reply
  16. Hi Jonni. You are amazing!! Just watched the vid on re-make of Mr. Kangaroo….when you asked about helping Dino to stand…what would happen if you glued washers to the tail and also feet for internal weight? It wouldn’t show. I love your sculptures and teaching.

    Reply
    • Yes, I think some weights will help. I might end up using some epoxy glue to attach him to a stand, but even then I need him to balance the right way. It’s going to work – but you might see me fiddling with it in my next video. 🙂

      Reply
  17. Dear Jonny,
    I LOVE your sculptures! You make it look so easy! I thought to myself… “Okay, I can do this!”… and my clay came out lumpy and my sculpture looks like it’s part dog ( which it’s supposed to be) and part bearded dragon! Hahahahaha!
    How I wish I had your talent!

    Reply
    • Hi Nina. The paper mache clay isn’t supposed to come out lumpy, so is it possible that you used more paper than the recipe calls for? Or perhaps you pressed out so much water that the paper couldn’t come apart when it was mixed? But even with the lumpiness, it sounds like your first sculpture is interesting anyway. Do you have a photo you could share so we can see it?

      Reply

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