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

FREE DOWNLOAD

Subscribe, and Never Miss an Exciting New Project -

When you subscribe to my VIP list you’ll receive this free downloadable eBook, which includes 5 cheap and easy paper mache paste recipes, flour and gluten-free paste options, and my famous recipe for Paper Mache Clay.

5 best recipes for paper mache

Latest Paper Mache Tutorials:

The Sculpting Books I’ve Written:

Masks and Sculptures Made by Our Readers:

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

  1. Hello Jonni Good
    Your work is fantastic, congratulations!
    I like also so much your videos. I would like to ask you about using the flour and if is resiste all time without anta or another kind of micro insects because I have listen to have attention about it and I am always atraído to use four. May I use safely or must mixed another produt?
    Thank you,
    IsabelNunes

    Reply
    • Hi Isabel,

      I use the recipes for paper mache clay with flour, and the flour and water paste recipes, with no problems. But I live in a temperate environment where I can get the sculptures to dry quickly, and they don’t absorb moisture from the air after they’re sealed. If you live in a wetter environment, you can use the recipe for paper mache clay that doesn’t contain flour. For paste I would recommend the Elmer’s Art Paste, which does not attract mold.

      I hope this helps. 🙂

      Reply
  2. Thank you for the compliment.

    I did try to waterproof her for outdoors…including multiple layers of marine spar.

    Honestly, I am afraid to leave her out. Luckily she is light enough to relocate to my front porch where We keep our umbrella during storms. So keeping eye on forecasts.

    The faux finish was just brushed exterior green paint and cheap craft acrylic inca gold paint from walmart on top of black exterior latex base.

    My collage below is not instructional but gives a general idea and a better idea. Made it for friends who were curious.

    Reply
  3. Hi, I love all your tips and films, what a brilliant source of information. I have made lots of tiny dogs and they worked really well. I’m now making some huge things, so to get a hard structure I’m adding about 7-8 layers of paper/split layers of cardboard. I have watched your film on mould. I’m in Scotland, it’s not hot or dry, so I’m having problems! Would I get a good hard finish if I used wallpaper paste with a fungicide in stead of flour and water? Or is there anything I could add to flour and water that would make it harder, resulting in fewer layers, or something that would stop it going mouldy? (I like to stick to safe materials). Finally, if I see mould spots on an unsealed surface (now!) is the piece ruined, or will it dry out eventually? Sorry I’m asking for so much but I’m quite new to this and obviously this is quite fundamental if I want my pieces to last. Hope you can help, best wishes and continued success, Flora

    Reply
    • Hi Flora. If mold is already growing, you might be able to kill it by putting it in the oven at about 93° C for an hour or so. That will also make sure there’s no moisture left inside. Mold doesn’t need much moisture, but it can’t live at all without it – that’s why drying is so important. The wallpaper paste will make strong paper mache, but wear gloves when you use it. You could also use Elmer’s Art Paste, which doesn’t attract mold. Wood glue is probably stronger than the Elmer’s Art Paste, but it’s more expensive.

      Reply
  4. Thought I might add my 2 cents worth – Theses are 2 recent pieces of mine.
    I do my eyes very close to the same but as a final step I add 2 coats of enamel Metallica gold.
    It is strong and adds to the effect if there are any missing spots (which I create sometimes).
    Many times I also add an upper and lower lid which I didn´t do here.
    Thank you for all you have done for this art form – you are awesome!
    Dana

    Reply
    • Very nice, Dana! I know Pia would love to see your work because she’s the one who wrote our recent guest post about painting glass eyes for animal sculptures. You’re more than welcome to post your photo and comment on her guest post, where she’s more likely to see it.

      I have one question for you – maybe 2. When you add the enamel Metalica gold, where do you actually put it? Is it painted onto the back of the eye? Does it show through the other colors? And do you use acrylics for most of the painting, like Pia does?

      Reply
    • Hello Jonni, could the pig be made in the same fashion as the baby elephant? As in with using the shelf liner?

      Reply
      • Hi Angela. Yes, you could use the same materials as the baby elephant, printing on card stock and covering it with the shelf liner. I made mine with cardboard from a cereal box, but when you add the shelf liner your card stock will be almost exactly the same thickness and stiffness. If you make a pig, I really hope you’ll let us see how it turns out. 🙂

        Reply
  5. Hi Jonni, Im currently making your giraffe pattern and have a question about it. I noticed that in the instructions it says to cover the eyes, ears, mane and nostrils with one layer of paper strip and paste. Does that mean that we do not cover the rest of the giraffe with the paper strips and paste? I could not tell with the pictures, since they jump to the giraffe covered in clay. It is my first time working with paper mache and clay.
    Thank you!
    I am really enjoying the whole process.

    Reply
    • Hi Melissa. You can cover all of the giraffe with paper strips and paste. But if you decide to use paper mache for the giraffe, I suggest using the paper strips and paste for the areas you mentioned. It’s easier than paper mache clay in those particular areas.

      We’d love to see your giraffe when it’s done!

      Reply
  6. Hi Jonni and fellow sculptors 🙂
    I tried the original clay recipe and only added 1/2 cup of flour.
    Im trying to make 16″ balls by spreading the mix on inflated beach balls. I only put 1/2 a cup of flour in because I wanted a thin spreadable paste, and not a thick paste to sculp.

    The mixture is slipping off in some places and sliding down! I purposely didnt put vaseline on for this reason.

    Please help. Do I add more flour to thicken the paste? 🙁

    Reply
    • Hi Cherith. Very few things will stick to a rubber ball, so your problem is gravity. Try putting masking tape over the balls, and then proppiing them up so that you can put the clay on just the upper portion. Let it dry, turn it over, and do the other side. I hope it works!

      Reply
      • Ah! This makes sense.
        I didnt think of putting masking tape on first and doing section by section.
        Thank you for the response. I appreciate you taking the time. 🙂

        Reply
  7. Thank you
    Lovely site
    I want to make thin flowers
    What would you recommend for the base
    Thank you
    Margaret

    Reply
  8. “ I had a huge task ahead of me, and though I have been an artist for years it had been awhile since I had made a paper mache armature. I emailed Jonni and she lead me in the right direction. Her patterns where so easy to follow. I was even able to take her concepts of the giraffe and create a two zebras. 8 armatures in total. Vacation Bible School was a huge success! The kids loved the interaction and it brought the safari theme to life. Thank you ultimatepapermache. com and Jonni. You are truly an inspiration. Keep creating all you amazing artists!
    Rachel Newmyer

    Paper mache animals for VBS.

    Reply
  9. Hi there! I used your lion template and the fabulous paper mache clay recipe to create a fierce lion for a school parade float. I thought you may like to see it!

    Reply
  10. to make gesso…………..I see that you use glue and compound,,,,,,,,,, will it dry if have extra gesso

    Reply
  11. Hi Jonni, I am so happy my photos finally got through :-)) and thank you so much for your kind words. It means a lot for me. I used stripped paper towels which I wrinkled and then dubbed in glue and water and placed randomly on the cat’s body .

    Reply
  12. Wow, you have some incredible art. I’ve dabbled with paper mache clay before, bought from Michel’s craft store, but my real love is papercraft models. However, they tend to get damaged easily so I’m looking for a way to re enforce then so they last.

    Reply
    • Jonni, thank you for inspiring me with all of your tutorials. My family thought I was crazy to make a life size sculpture out of paper mache and clay, but are extremely delighted now! So happy how my first sculpture turned out! Thank you again for providing these instructions. ?

      Reply
      • Your first sculpture? Wow – I’m impressed. The proportions are perfect, and that’s isn’t easy. Two questions: Are you going to keep it outside? And what did you use for the finish? It looks metallic.

        Reply
        • Thank you for the compliment.

          I did try to waterproof her for outdoors…including multiple layers of marine spar.

          Honestly, I am afraid to leave her out. Luckily she is light enough to relocate to my front porch where We keep our umbrella during storms. So keeping eye on forecasts.

          The faux finish was just brushed exterior green paint and cheap craft acrylic inca gold paint from walmart on top of black exterior latex base.

          My collage below is not instructional but gives a general idea and a better idea. Made it for friends who were curious.

          Reply
          • Thanks, Cindy. I have to admit that I tried marine varnish once, and the sun destroyed it. I think it’s a good idea to bring her under cover when it rains.

            Reply
            • How did the sun ruin your project?

              I have heard about it yellowing, but figured with my faux finish colors, it would not effect it terribly.

              Though, it only comes in glossy. So my last layer was an clear matte enamel finishing spray all over to tone down the glossiness. Just hoping the enamel on top of uerethane doesn’t peel in time!

            • The marine varnish on my turtle was fine until I moved it out into the sun. The sun cracked the varnish in less than a week, and then it rained. If it was covered with paint to protect the varnish, that might help. The varnish I used was supposed to have a UV filter to protect it, but it didn’t seem to help. How long do you intend to keep your sculpture outside? You probably already told us, but I forgot – but if you’re just going to use the piece for holiday decorations, and you dry them out really well after you bring them inside, the marine varnish should work. For longer than that, some people have good luck with it, but I didn’t.

            • I will have to keep an eye on her then. Spot on front deck doesn’t get sun. I try to watch rain forecasts though. I plan on just moving her onto porch to wait out the storms and winter.

              I just need a better stand. Another project perhaps. Lol.

              Right now I have already started a mini mermaid statue and working on a wild horses statue. (Inspired by your Swedish guest) So woodworking project will have to wait.

              Thank you again for all of your insight and tips.

  13. Here’s a picture of Gary! I used “slip sheets” for the cereal box cardboard. These are found between the pkgs of paper towel on a pallet at Costco. They usually just throw them away, but make great poster board!

    Reply
    • Wow – what a clever idea, and well executed, too. Thanks, Carolyn, for sharing the photo. Do the kids get to make up a story to explain why the giraffe is driving a jeep?

      Reply
  14. Hi Jonni,

    I, too “upsized my Giraffe for VBS. His name is Gary. I did not make his entire body, that would have been cool, but Gary is driving a Jeep and travels through 7 different VBS’s all summer

    Reply
  15. I have just made my first mask form! This is only plaster cloth….I am letting it dry overnight before I can sand it as much as I can, then adding the paper mache and smooth gesso to make it all smooth and usable for future masks.

    Reply

Leave a Comment

Heads up! You are attempting to upload an invalid image. If saved, this image will not display with your comment.

Heads up! You are attempting to upload a file that's too large. Please try a smaller file smaller than 250KB.

Note that images greater than 250KB will not be uploaded.