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

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

  1. Hi Jonni.
    My name is Owen Scullion. I’am 24 years Old. I live in Glasgow Scotland. I have live with Autism and I have difficulties. I love Art, Props, Model Making, Costume Making, Painting and Sculpting. I have an important announcement to make which I hope will cheer you up. I have been offered a place at The University of Edinburgh – The Edinburgh College of Art to study a BA degree in BA Performance Costume. I am so happy about this and really looking forward to it. The BA Course includes, Textiles, Set Design, Model Making, Costume Making, Puppetry and finally Prop Making. Previous students have gone on to work on things like Game of Thrones, Outlander and Fantastic Beasts and work in Royal Opera, Pantos, Fashion shows, Films and TV. I would like to share some good news with you all. City of Glasgow College were very happy to tell me that I have an A Pass for my Graded Unit 2. That means I have successfully completed my HND Art and Design: Applied Arts for 2 years. In September I will start my BA degree course in BA Performance Costume at The Edinburgh College of Art. My degree will take me 4 Years. I am so excited to have this opportunity to achieve my dream of becoming a famous Prop maker, Costume Maker and the Model Maker. Another good news to tell you all, I went to see Hugh Jackman is The Greatest Showman Sing Along Version at the King’s Theatre this february. It was the best night ever. I loved it. I have a good news to tell you all. I was up on the stage at the king’s theatre and i won 1st prize and for the best costume and everyone cheered and screamed. It was absolutely best night of the year 2020. Congratulations to me and i’m the 1st Winner..???? especially I sent a letter to my favourite actor Hugh Jackman in New York and asked him to sign my poster. He sent it back with a nice message saying. Thanks Owen. Be well and healthy. Love Hugh Jackman. Last year i got his first autograph after i went to see Hugh Jackman: The Man, The Music, The Show at the Glasgow The SSE Hydro. I am so thrilled i got his 2nd autograph again. I cannot believe it. It is Incredible. Anyway Welcome to Edinburgh.
    Yours Sincerely
    BA Student
    Owen Scullion.???
    http://www.owenscullionthepropmaker.co.uk

    Reply
  2. Until I decide which of Jonni’s recipes to use I purchased a package of Elmer’s Art Past.

    I have a question concerning mixing less than the full package which would give 3.8 liters as described in the instructions. I would rather
    mix a smaller quantity to begin with but have been striking out in my search if this is alright to do.

    Reply
    • Hi Patrick. I’ve done that – you just need to measure out the amount in the carton, and mix it with half the amount of water that’s required. It works just fine. 🙂

      Reply
      • Jonni, thanks for the reply on the art past.

        Another question now as I have started gathering supplies for my first project which I’ve decided on and jumping ahead to the Piglet starting on page 51.

        With temperatures minus zero in my area, west central Wisconsin, is it safe to order acrylic supplies like tube paint, mediums and varnish from online suppliers. Concerned about the items traveling in these low temperatures with the possibility of freezing.

        Thanks.

        P.S. Have the patterns cut out and have started assembly. Fun.

        Reply
        • Gosh, that’s a hard question, Patrick. It’s cold here in MN, too (-4° at the moment…). Just one more week until better weather, fingers crossed. I did a fast Google search, and found this forum where several people said that acrylic paints can survive freezing. But other articles say to store the paints in a controlled environment. Just to play it safe, you might want to wait a week and order you paints when it’s a little warmer. You could always use the time to make another piglet so the first one has a friend. 🙂

          Another option would be to ask the same question on the Daily Sculptors page. One of my readers might have some advice that would be more useful than mine.

          Reply
          • Thanks Jonni for your reply. Do think I’ll wait as you suggest. One of the links your provided seem to cover the issue well. As has been said “Discretion is the better part of valor.”

            Thanks for your post.

            Reply
  3. Hey, Jonni! Love your work and your instructions are so helpful. I just finished the Folk Art Bunny and I amaze myself! 🙂 I also just made the paper mâché clay and I am working on the Vintage Chicken, so fun. Can I thicken my clay with more flour? I think I might have made mine too wet.
    Thank you so much.

    Reply
    • Hi Carol. I’m glad you’re having fun with your projects. 🙂 And yes, you can use as much flour as you want, but make sure you don’t make it so stiff that it won’t stick to your armature.

      Reply
  4. Hi Jonni, its me again. I was wondering if I can paint glue on foil and then attach the paper mache clay? Do I have to mask the foil?
    Thanks ? Stephanie

    Reply
  5. Question, I’m not sure if this was asked and answered already but can these projects go outside or will they get destroyed in the rain?

    Reply
  6. Hello Jonni!
    I am brand new to this and am collecting supplies to get started. I was wondering if you could recommend a tool kit or list the tools most needed for various projects. Thanks so much!

    Reply
    • Hi Amy. It depends on the project, but you can make almost all of the projects on this site with stuff you already have on hand. If you make the paper mache clay recipe, you’ll need a small mixer – preferably one that you don’t need to use in the kitchen, too. Was there a particular project you had in mind?

      Reply
      • No not yet. I am the kind of person who needs to have everything on hand before I start something. I have been looking at the clay sculpting tool kits among other things. I was wondering if there was any particular type of such tools you preferred or recommend. I dabbled with polymer clay making jewelry and some of those tools were great tools to have. Looking forward to beginning what I hope will be a wonderful creative journey.

        Reply
        • I recently bought this tool set to replace some that I lost. I just looked on amazon.com and it isn’t available at the moment, but it will give you an idea of what to look for. I never use the tools with the little wire loops on the end when making sculptures with paper mache or paper mache clay, but I use them when I’m sculpting with pottery-type or WED clay to create a clay form for a paper mache sculpture. There are other sets that don’t include that type of tool.

          But I often make an entire sculpture with paper mache clay and never use anything except a table knife as a tool. It really depends on the project. If you have tools that you use with polymer clay, you probably already have everything you need to get started with paper mache. Have fun!

          Reply
  7. Hi! Im so happy to have found you and your website/YouTube channel!

    Have you found an armature material that the pmclay won’t stick to? I need to make forms that will release from the armature after drying. I would experiment but there simply is no time!

    Any chance you have an answer?

    Reply
  8. Hello, I am using paper clay in silicone molds. Can I use your recipe for papermache in a silicone mold?
    Thank you

    Reply
  9. Hi Jonni,

    I love your work, you’re an amazing artist! I’ve downloaded the animal collection and I’m looking forward to getting started on these. One question, Have you done an owl mask?? I would love to see you do an owl.

    Reply
      • Paper mache isn’t at all waterproof. If you just need your pieces to be outside for a week or so, you can use a good water-based varnish from the hardware store. Try to bring them in if it’s going to rain. If they get wet they will soften, but you can bring them inside and dry them out again.

        Reply
  10. Hi Jonni!

    Your mask making book has been incredibly helpful. Thank you. I’m wondering if you have ideas in terms of troubleshooting. I was making a series of masks and when I pulled off the Mold, some of the Scott towels came loose. It’s still dry. Do you have an ideas about how to make a clean inside once this has happened? These will be worn in an active theatre piece.

    Thank you so much!

    Reply
    • Hi Arielle. It sounds like it could be caused by one of two things – either the towels were not completely saturated with the paste, or the paper mache wasn’t entirely dry when they were removed from the mold. And there are two options for making the inside smooth – use one layer of soft paper, like newspaper, held on with white glue instead of the paste. The glue isn’t watery so it shouldn’t make the dried paper mache wet again. Or you could glue felt on the inside of your masks, which would make them look really nice and feel really comfortable at the same time.
      Good luck with it!

      Reply
      • Hi Jonni!

        Thank you so much for your thorough response and your advice. I really appreciate it. Do you think the felt would be hot in performance or sweat-wicking?
        Also… I used oil-based clay (Monster Clay) and I’m having trouble getting it out of some areas. Next time, do you suggest that I put petroleum jelly and/or plastic wrap over the Mold before the paste? Or, should it be fine to pull out and reuse once it’s truly fully dried?
        Thank you again for your generosity.

        Reply
        • You might still have some residue left on your Monster Clay without using a release or plastic. If there aren’t a lot of fine details, a sheet of lightweight plastic works well. With the felt you will want to make sure that air can still circulate, and that it can get out of the mask. We produce a lot of ‘steam’ while we’re just walking around, and you don’t want moisture to be trapped inside the mask.

          Reply
  11. Hi jonni,
    Just like to say thank you for your great ideas and sculptures, I have tried a few experiments, at first they didn’t work for me, my projects kept falling apart and I had to repair them, but I have learnt a lot from your site, and also I have found that if I use ordinary house hold paint on my sculptures ,ie gloss paint and outdoor varnish, to finish them off, it does waterproof them, I made a giant penguin with paper cache clay, and he’s been outside for a couple of months now and he’s still ok,
    Thank you and I will try more sculptures

    Reply
  12. Hello Jonni,
    I found you through YouTube and I am in need of big paper mache spheres (because I want to be a melted snowman for Halloweeen). Unfortunately, nobody really sells huge spheres. I was going to use cardboard or traditional paper mache, but I found you! So, because I don’t really know anyone I can get a big spherical mold, can I sculpt the paper mache as if it was a normal clay without a mold? Would there be any changes I need to make to the paper mache clay recipe to sculpt it without a mold? Or do you think I’d need a mold? Thank you so much!!

    Reply
    • Hi Peyton. The paper mache clay is used in a thin layer over an armature, so you really can’t sculpt with it all by itself. The easiest way to create a form would be to stuff a large plastic garbage bag with something that would be easy to pour out. For small pumpkins we use rice, but you wouldn’t want to do that for a really big ball. Foam peanuts would be easy to work with because they’re light, but they’re expensive. Pillows, maybe? Anything that goes inside the bag should be protected from the paper mache getting on it, so use your imagination. I’m lazy, so after shaping the ball as well as I could with masking tape I’d cover it with a couple of layers of plaster cloth bandages. They harden quickly, and a very thin layer of the paper mache clay, or just one layer of paper strips and paste, would be all you need to create a surface for painting.

      If you want to try a cardboard form instead, look at the shapes between the longitude lines on a globe (the ones that go from pole to pole). Cut segments of cardboard in that shape, tape them together, and you’ll have your sphere. With some fancy math you’d be able to make them right size for your snowballs, but I’m math phobic so I have no idea how to do that. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Jonni I keep reading and rereading all of your instructions they are so helpful. My question is can the paper mache clay be layered on top of a dried layer. I need something that might be 3/4 of an inch to look like snow. Do yo think it might dry in the bottom of a Christmas ornament ball. Which recipe would work the best. Thank you so much. Gail

    Reply
    • Hi Gail. I think you would have real problems getting the paper mache clay to dry inside a glass ball. There wouldn’t be enough air circulation for the material to dry all the way through. You can layer new paper mache clay over dry paper mache clay, but the lower levels will naturally absorb some of the water. With little air movement, that water could get trapped inside. Plaster of Paris might work – it hardens quickly and then takes a day or two to dry – but it also heats up during the hardening process, and that might help it dry faster. One of the readers on the Daily Sculptors page might have better advice for you, so you might want to ask your question on that page, too. Good luck with it!

      Reply
  14. Hi Jonni,

    I am doing a project for school, we have to make an vehicle that is as efficient as possible. (like the cars for the “Shell eco marathon)

    I am in charge of making the outer shell and my concerns are that pm would be too heavy or too weak.

    How strong is dried pm compared to its weight?

    With kind regards,
    Jesse

    Reply
    • Hi Jesse. You just asked me an engineering question, and I have no way to do the testing required to give you a reasonable answer. I think it’s fair to say that if you use paper sandwiched together with a good wood glue, the result will be as strong as an equal thickness of plywood – but I can’t test it so I don’t know if that’s true or not. I also don’t know how much your paper mache will weigh because there are so many different ways to make paper mache. Do some experiments – when you find the answers, be sure to let us know. 🙂

      Reply
  15. Thank you very much for your quick reply, Jonni. Of course you are right that experimenting is the correct way to proceed, and it’s good to know about other glue options. Best wishes.

    Reply
  16. Hi Jonni – Thank you for all your teaching and information! I am finishing a paper mache dress form, cast in halves inside plaster forms made from my body last year. The paper mache halves are all done and I need to join them together to make the final replica of my body. For various reasons, the two halves do not fit exactly together well, and I am planning to tie them together, within their plaster halves, and from inside push a mixture of glue and paper mache tightly in the crevices before letting the whole thing dry. The paper mache dress form halves were made from a mixture of cellulose insulation and liquid wallpaper adhesive (walls range from 1/2″ – 1″ thick, and were finished last year, so halves are completely dry) and I have CelluClay instant paper mache to use in the crevices. The crevices range from probably 1/4″ to maybe 3/4″ wide, and are variable in shape. If I use a mixture of the CelluClay and the wallpaper adhesive to fill in the crevices, will that be sufficient to “glue” the halves together? Thank you very much for any advice.

    Reply
    • Hi Polly. I’m afraid I’m the wrong person to ask about a project like this. I never use CelluClay or wallpaper adhesive, so I would just be making things up if I answer you. You’ll want to run a few experiments first, to make sure it will work. If the wallpaper adhesive doesn’t work, you can experiment with a PVA glue (Elmer’s Glue-All in the US) or wood glue, instead. Good luck with it!

      Reply
  17. Hey Jonni,

    I’m looking for a very specific paper mâché clay recipe. If you have one that meets the following criteria, could you point me in the right direction? Due to the pandemic and toilet paper shortage I’m looking for something that uses newspaper instead, preferably without flour (worried about mold) that can still be flattened smoothly, AND can be air-dried. I really liked the recipe using marble powder, but I know you tested that one in the oven and wasn’t sure how it would do air drying. Please let me know! Thank you! <3

    Reply
  18. Hello
    — I am Emad Hamdy from Egypt .
    — Thank you so much for your creativity .
    — I wish you more success and success .
    — I would like to show you some of my own works after I was able to learn some of your technique, but the implementation is in my own style, and I hope you like it.

    Reply

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