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  1. Hello Folks – I am an early primary teacher to students between the ages of 5-8. I would like to make moon lamps by using paper mache and punch balloons. I can use the traditional route of paper strips but love the look of the clay. If anyone has suggestions on how to apply or use without compound I’d appreciate your ideas. Fun Facts: the moons will need to be semi-transparent to light from the inside, they will need to be hollow and hold their form, they will be hung from the ceiling. Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Katherine,
      I recommend using light weight tissues or handmade art papers. Mulberry paper comes in a lot of different colors and styles, fibers, from lace-like see through patterns to opaque. You’ll find it in searches for art paper. I recommend also, using some form of wire (florist wire covered with the string is less pokey) taped in concentric rings, which can be attached to your balloons to give the eventual lamp its bones. You would do a first layer of paper then the wire, then more paper.
      (Also, maybe not for this age group, but, I’ve seen lamps made using thin strips of reed that were soaked in water for pliability, clamped and fastened in the shapes they wanted them to be, dried/hardened; and paper and even silk used for the lampshade aspect. A Pintrist search might give you ideas on building the structure.)
      What a fun teacher you are! Check out lacy art papers, so many colors!!
      Here’s a link to one company who carries it. Joni, I hope it’s ok to share the link!! https://www.mulberrypaperandmore.com/c-253-lace-and-sheer-mulberry-paper.aspx
      Good luck!
      Susan

      Reply
  2. Hi Jonni
    Its been a few years since I have been on your page, I purchased the giraffe pattern and I will be making a full sized giraffe. My question is, since I use a joint compound for the last layer over the paper mache and clay, what could I use to weather proof it? It will be going out in my mother in laws garden. ( she doesn’t know it yet ) haha Thanks 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Helen. I haven’t used anything that I can recommend for making your giraffe waterproof, but we do have a guest post by someone who made a large mushroom for her garden several years ago. Linda lives in Florida, and she says her sculpture is still waterproof after several years outside. She may still be watching her post, so she might be able to give you some good advice. You can find her post here.

      Reply
      • Thank you Jonni 🙂 I will have a look. ! Just one more thing, I am putting together the neck of the Giraffe, piece B-1 and B-2 don’t go all the way around piece A. Do I need to squeeze them together to make the tube ?

        Reply
        • Hi Helen. The two pieces should fit around the bottom piece, A. Did you tape the pieces B1 and 2 together along the seam labeled “front?” It’s the one with the darts. If you did and it just won’t go around, can you email a photo to me so I can see what you have so far? Or you can upload a photo to the Daily Sculptors page so we can all help out. 🙂

          Reply
  3. Hi Jonni. I hope you are well. Now we’ve finished the Flamingo we are about to start making a Golden Eagle with wings open as it starts to take off. I’m struggling to think how to make the armature to be strong enough. I’m wondering about 3mm wire or similar. Do you have any suggestions for holding up outstetched wings?!
    thanks
    Carl and Isaac in london

    Reply
    • Hi Carl. I’m sorry it took so long to get back to you. You have a very challenging question, and I haven’t made anything with outstretched wings except my huge dragon. Unfortunately, I had a lot of challenges of my own when I made the dragon, and I didn’t take videos of the armature that shows how the wings were added. However, I do know that I used heavy rebar for the main bone of the wings.

      Your eagle won’t be nearly as big as my silly dragon, but the wire inside the wings will need to be strong enough to not bend with the weight of the feathers. You’ll also need to make a really strong joint where the wings are attached to the shoulder. One way to do that is to use a really long piece of wire from one wing tip to the other, and another way is to use one long piece of wire on each side, going from one wing tip, down along the body and down the leg to the toes. Either way would give you a lot of area for firmly attaching the wire so there’s no potential of cracking or breaking at the joints.

      We have a guest post from a professional artist who created some magnificent life-sized birds with outstretched wings. There’s even a bald eagle!I don’t know if Kelly is still watching the comments on the post, but if anyone could answer your question, it would be Kelly, so go ahead and put a comment on that post. You can find it here: https://www.ultimatepapermache.com/low-country-birds

      Reply
  4. Hi Joni – I just purchased the hyena pattern; I am planning to edit it a bit and make it into a saber tooth tiger mask for my grandson. Can you give me some hints on how to make it a mask instead of a headless?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi Martha. To make it just the face itself, you could just leave off the cap and the flat back piece (22). Then attach some elastic straps to hold it on. To make a helmet-style mask you can leave off that back piece, put the cap pieces together, and then fiddle around with the placement of the front of the hyena (or tiger, in this case) so it sits in front of your grandson’s face instead of on top of his head. If you just tack the pieces on with a few pieces of tape and then keep trying it on, it shouldn’t take too long to get it to fit really well. Have fun with it! We would love to see how it turns out. 🙂

      Reply
  5. Hi Jonni:
    I have a question that I hope you or someone from the Daily Sculptors might have an answer for! I made 4 large life-size paper mache animals (moose, horse, deer and cow) for a theatre project. After one production COVID delayed everything and the final production probably won’t happen until 2023. Meanwhile the animals need storage. They were in a theatre but have to leave as the theatre now needs the space. We have been offered a dry container but there is no heat. I am in Northeastern Ontario Canada and the temperatures can drop to -22 F (-30 C). Today will reach 80 F (27 C) so there will be fluctuations in temperature throughout the storage time. The animals were constructed with a wood frame, stuffed with newsprint (some in plastic bags), taped with masking tape, and then paper mached with 6 layers of newsprint glued on with Elmer’s Glue-All. Finally I primed them with housepaint primer and painted them with housepaint. Does anyone have experience with this or a thought of how the temperatures might or might not affect the animals?

    Reply
  6. The Smooth on web site is an excellent resource for mold making materials and process. They also have video tutorials and you can send in a request ticket with pictures of exactly what you are trying to do and a technician will get back to you with suggested products and technique videos to watch . Good Luck !

    Reply
  7. Hi Jonni
    Writing you with a question with the hope you or any of guys and gals of Daily Sculptors might point me in the right direction. I have sculpted a medium sized sculpt from paper clay (now two of my other kids want the exact same) … So my question is … Have you or anyone else made a flexible mold from one of their paper clay masters/pieces to duplicate it? Do I have to seal my paper clay piece ? … and if so, with what ?
    I’ve made many a mould from pieces sculpted from non sulphurous clay … but never tried making a mould from a paper clay sculpt … and … I’m frightened to experiment and ruin it … it has tons of really intricate / deep undercuts.
    Sorry for this lengthy ‘ask’ … but any advise would be highly appreciated.
    Kindly Amanda

    Reply
    • Hi Amanda. I’ve made a lot of silicone molds, but never directly over paper mache clay. If you happen to have any pm clay that you can play with I’d recommend making some small thing with a few undercuts that you can use for experiments. It will need to be sealed, but a few coats of artist’s varnish might be all you really need. After your experiments you’ll be our expert. 🙂

      I should say that I have not had good luck putting paper mache clay into a silicone mold. The high paper content doesn’t allow a good casting. I have used brown paper and glue paper strips and paste in a fairly small silicone mold and that worked just fine. Some people have used the air dry clay recipe, which has less paper, in small silicone molds and they say it works great. In a larger mold the air dry clay (or paper mache clay) might shrink enough as it dries to cause some change in the shape.

      If anyone else has tried this I really hope you’ll give us some more advice – I’d love to hear what you have to say! 🙂

      Reply
      • Hi Jonni
        Thank you soooooo very much for taking the time not only to write me back but for your well thought out comment derived from years of experimenting and working with paper clay.
        You are so very right the paper fibres is what makes it so tricky … I realised that from the start and then most sealers not advisable because also paper clay is water soluble … but luckily memory on something I did with much success some 10 years ago surfaced … so the trick will be thin-thin layers … extensive drying periods in between thin layers and sanding sanding sanding all those little fibres away till there are none … Wish me luck will come back with detailed feedback … it just have to WORK ! 😀

        Reply
        • The Smooth on web site is an excellent resource for mold making materials and process. They also have video tutorials and you can send in a request ticket with pictures of exactly what you are trying to do and a technician will get back to you with suggested products and technique videos to watch . Good Luck !

          Reply
          • Hi Lee
            Thank you very much … for taking the time to write back and for the very helpful information.
            I live in South Africa … and to know that Smooth on are taking request tickets … is such wonderful news! 😀
            Big thank you hugs
            Amanda

            Reply
    • Okay … sometimes you have the ‘knowledge of products’ but when you dabble in many types of crafts/arts and maybe also with age this ‘knowledge’ base and knowledge of tried out materials get ‘fogged’ over.
      Just as I was about to get desponded … the solution thank goodness surfaced 😉
      So am going to try out something I did about a decade ago … namely
      Cover my paper clay sculpt with a thin layer of Yacht Varnish (containing of a A and B parts) … let it dry well for a couple of days … sand it smooth.
      Repeat step above for the second time.
      Then lastly a 3 rd thin layer of same Varnish … without sanding.
      Spray sculpt with my trusted release agent
      Then proceed to make my 2 part box mould
      Casting the three sculpts with my own Air Dry Clay slip.
      I truly hope this experiment will produce that which I hope and have in my mind that it would.
      BUT
      Should anyone know/see any pitfalls that I might run into and timely avoid … please would highly appreciate input
      Much love <3

      Reply
  8. Hi there! I love your tutorials, Thank You!
    I’m trying to make my own life size or smaller “Catrina” Dia de Los Muertos Sculpture. I purchased your skull pattern and might just paint the skull rather than attempt to make the full body Skeleton” Unless, you have a full skeleton pattern? Most Catrinas are wearing a fancy dress full of roses and a hat or a bride gown. Your thoughts or ideas would be greatly appreciated.
    Regards, Anna H

    Reply
    • My, that’s a challenging project – and I’ve never done anything like it. I hope one of my readers will have some ideas for you. I do not have a skeleton pattern. You might be able to find a papercraft pattern of a skeleton, if you do a Google search. If you find one you can add paper mache to it to make it more durable. Have fun!

      Reply
      • Thank you for your response!
        I’ve decided to just use skull and maybe just a full dress that doesn’t require much skeletal parts, maybe arms, with a half circle dress..
        Keeping it simple.. thank you!

        Reply
  9. I was attracted to your fox mask pattern as the basis for a full body puppet of a red fox that I’m making for a production of Cinderella. I’ll provide some shots of the project once I get it going. The other “character” I need to make in the form of a puppet is a raccoon. There are lots of raccoon hand puppets around, but I really want to make a full body articulated puppet. Have you ever made a raccoon head or raccoon mask pattern? I didn’t see one on your site.

    Reply
    • Hi David. I made a raccoon, but the pattern isn’t the same kind as your fox mask pattern. With a little fiddling it might be possible to use the fox as a raccoon, too. You’d need different-shaped ears and you might want to change the shape of the ruff. Raccoon eyes seem to be more forward-looking, and the muzzle is shorter and pointier – but that wouldn’t be too hard to do if you don’t mind making a few tries to get it right. If you do make a raccoon, we’d love to see how it comes out. And both of those puppets sounds really nice – I’d love to see them when they’re done. 🙂

      Reply
  10. Just want to let you know I’m almost done with my monster.
    I did have one issue with it.
    I used brown acrylic paint instead of the glue in the clay for the final coat
    But when it dried completely it had turned back to the gray rather than being brown.
    To smooth out the clay I used a dollar store paint brush, instead of the moist cloth because I’ve found it worked so much better.
    As soon as this guy dries completely I’m sending it off to a friend to have her paint it.
    Then I’m adding pillow stuffing for his hairy body. I’m going to use the sealer stuff you said works good and stick the pillow stuffing in to the sealer before it dries to hold it on with.
    I’ve done this before and it came out great.
    I’ll send pictures when its all done
    Again thanks so much on the help you have given me on this guy. I’m not sure I could have done it with out your help.

    Reply
    • Hi John,

      I have a couple of questions please.

      “I used brown acrylic paint instead of the glue in the clay for the final coat“.

      I’m curious did you substitute 100% of the glue with paint? Besides the color did it change any of the other properties of the clay? Did it have the same strength, did it crack, did it shrink?

      “ I’m going to use the sealer stuff.”
      What is the “sealer stuff” you reference?

      Thanks!

      Reply
  11. Thanks for your generous tutorials! I want to make the baby elephant head with my granddaughter who is coming to visit for a week. I am wondering approximately how many batches of your original recipe clay I should use to complete the project. Will the pattern give me information about how long to dry it, how many layers of clay it takes, and other details? Can we finish it in a week? Thanks in advance

    Reply
    • Hi Lisa. I just went back to look at the video, and I think I used two batches of the paper mache clay. For the first one I didn’t use quite as much flour in the mix as the recipe calls for. I like to use it in a very thin layer. It dries faster that way. I only used one layer of paper mache clay, let it dry, and then put on the final skin with paper towels and the second batch of paper mache clay in place of paste.

      In warm weather, your first layer of paper mache clay should dry in a few days, depending on thickly it’s applied. The second layer with the paper towels could take a little longer. You can speed up the drying a lot if you put the elephant in front of a fan. Have fun with it! 🙂

      Reply
        • The elephant head is one of just four patterns that I made that have tabs along the pattern edges. If you reduce the size of the pattern that much, I don’t know if you’d be able to read the numbers on the tabs, and you need the numbers to know how to put the pattern together. A lot of people have made the elephant bigger, but I don’t know if anyone has tried making it smaller. You could print just one page of the pattern at 50% and then check to see if the numbers are readable.

          Reply
  12. Hello Jonni,
    I’m just jumping in to paper mache and your projects and tutorials are exciting! I am hoping to make a cheshire cat head for a family’s wedding shower (Alice in Wonderland themed). Would I be able to easily adapt your cat mask pattern and add the big grin? Or do you have another suggestion? I can’t wait to start. I have a month. Eeeek.

    Thank you. It’s going to be really cool!

    Reply
    • I think it could be done. The mask pattern stops at the chin, so you could remove that part, and tape a wide grin-shaped piece of cardboard behind the upper lip and cheeks. Draw on some teeth, and perhaps sculpt some lips with crumpled foil and masking tape. (Does the Cheshire cat have lips?) The shape of the face won’t be the same as the original illustrations, but you should get pretty close. It sounds like a fun wedding shower. 🙂

      Reply
  13. Hi Jonni,
    I just discovered you on YouTube and you’re my favourite teacher and guide to paper mache. I’m new to this, and having lots of fun. I bought your Jackrabbit pattern, and it’s all together except I’m not sure where to attach the ears. I likely missed something in the instructions…

    Reply
    • Hi Lee-Ann. Thanks for the kind words. 🙂 The ears go on the back of the bulge on the top of his head, very near the top of the neck. They’ll overlap pieces 29, 30 and 33, and the two ears will meet in the middle. This screen shot gives you a little better view:

      I hope this helps. If you need more photos, let me know. I took a few of my completed rabbit, and I can add them if you need them.

      Reply
  14. Jonni not only have you created great art but also a great community which is fabulous! Thank you! I’ve just started playing around and will post images later. I have a few questions. Is there a difference between Elmer’s Glue All and Elmer’s School Glue? I had the school glue so that is what I used when following your recipes for both the paper mache clay and the silky smooth air dry clay. I used the recipes with the gram measurements when available. My clay seemed to be a lot wetter and stickier then yours. Have you or anyone else in “your community” used the school glue and noticed a difference? Also can you use a diluted glue to seal a final project if it isn’t going to be painted? The project would be an interior piece but I would like to protect it from moisture and humidity. Thank you and your community.

    Reply
    • Hi Diane. I don’t really know what the differences are between Elmer’s School Glue and their Glue-All, except for what I just found online. The school glue is supposed to be easier to wash out of your clothes, and it takes longer to dry. Maybe that means that the school glue is wetter, which could be causing your problems. I live in a really small town and I can’t buy school glue here, but one of these days I’ll do another experiments with it. I did one years ago, and decided that I didn’t like using School Glue with the paper mache clay – but it’s been so long that I can’t remember why not. 🙂

      You might be able to get a thicker, less sticky paper mache clay by adding more flour than the recipe calls for. Try it on a small batch to see if it helps.

      The best protection for unpainted paper mache that’s displayed inside is acrylic varnish. I prefer this Ultra Matte varnish on my animal sculptures, because you really can’t see it after it dries, but it will protect the paper mache from moisture. From what I read about school glue, it isn’t at all waterproof – that’s why it can be washed out of clothes. It wouldn’t be a very good option for sealing your work. Maybe other kinds of glue would work, but varnish seems like a better choice to me.

      Reply
      • Thank you, Jonni. As always you are generous in sharing your thoughts and quickly reply to questions. The fact that you did experiment with the two types of glue and chose Glue-All tells me there must have been a good reason even though you can’t recall the reason now. Maybe there really wasn’t a difference but you could get the Glue-All more easily. If you found that the School Glue was better I imagine you would have found a way to get it. I did add more flour afterward because it was just too wet to work. I do have to keep better notes as I work though because I don’t know exactly how much I added! I will try starting with less glue and see if that works. I will also check out the varnish you recommended. I did not think the school glue would work as a sealant but was wondering if the Glue-All would work. You have so much experience, do lots of experiments, and a community that also gives feedback, I know it is a great resource so I went there. Thanks again and I will try your suggestions.

        Reply
  15. I am making a Blue Footed Booby and his tail feathers are sticking out at an angle. I would like to have the individual feathers, rather than make a single piece showing all the feathers. If I use a high quality cardboard which is just the right thickness, is it acceptable to use the cardboard as is, as long as it is painted? Have you or anyone else done this?

    Reply
    • I haven’t done it, but I can’t see why it wouldn’t work. People make entire sculptures out of just paper or cardboard. I had to go look up Blue Footed Booby on Google to see what they look like. Those feet look like neon lights or something! What a great subject for a sculpture. I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

      Reply
  16. Has anyone ever tried doing a papier-mâché box? I’m making a craft closet for my craft and sewing supplies. I’m not able to find the boxes that I like at a good price or that fit my needs to put in there. I started thinking about those small papier-mâché boxes that you can buy at the craft store. I wondered if you could get those in a larger scale. I couldn’t really find any so decided to make my own. Hoping that papier-mâché will make it sturdier and give the finish I want it to have.

    Reply
    • Hi Sarah. Quite a few of the people who submitted ideas for our “practical paper mache” project used flat cardboard to make various boxes and shelves. The biggest problem with using flat cardboard with paper mache is that it tends to warp, although Stephanie recently made a jewelry box and was able to overcome the problem by wrapping the cardboard with masking tape.

      I think it’s a great idea to use paper mache to make a cupboard to store craft supplies, and if you use sturdy cardboard it should be strong enough. But do some tests firsts to make sure you can keep the cardboard from warping.

      Reply
      • Thank you for the fast response! Good to know about the jewelry box. My trial run is with foam core put together with masking tape and it’s REALLY taped up with masking tape. I’m down to the end of my second roll. I took a picture of it all taped up and will post on the practical papier-mâché page when done. Will include photo of final product. The next time I’ll use taped up cardboard to see how it turns out. Thank you again!

        Reply
      • Second thought on cardboard—I read if painting on cardboard using acrylic, prime first with white gesso. I wonder if the cardboard was sealed with gesso if that would prevent warping? I would probably seal then tape anyway but it’s a thought.

        Reply
    • I had problems with wilting cardboard when using PM clay directly on shoebox/cereal box type material… tape it up REEEEALLY well for extra sturdiness! If your box needs even more support or if you want to use more clay, support the sides even more by embedding popsicle sticks. My favorite “box” I’ve paper mache’d without strips is a wooden cigar box (highly suggested), but plastic pencil boxes like the ones used in for elementary kids works really well too. ??

      Reply
  17. Hi Again Jonni,

    I am doing my first cardboard armature and filling it in with aluminum foil. It is a fairly small piece, 10″ x 4″. It is a sugar glider. I am having one heck of a time applying the foil. I am having to use a lot of my glue gun. Is that normal?

    Reply
    • Probably – you can use less glue if the pieces of foil are larger, or if the foil is crumpled tightly enough that you have more flat surface to attach to the next piece. Maybe someone with more glue gun experience than I have will be able to be more helpful… 🙂

      Reply
      • I was just going to ask the question of which glue sticks to buy, as I was trying to glue aluminum pieces together and was also having issues. I’ve had these glues stick probably for 20 years. So, there is probably better options out there now for them.

        Reply
    • I recently had the same issue and then things still wouldn’t stick. I was using some really old glue stics that were then made almost ply for fabric. I recently purchased some gorilla glue sticks that specifically mention metal. I haven’t tried them yet though.

      Reply
  18. Jonni, I have your book, Make animal sculptures. I was wondering, when you are making your own pattern from a photo, how do you know what size to make the styrofoam blocks for the legs? Do you just guesstimate and then adjust accordingly?

    Thanks, Sharon

    Reply
    • Hi Sharon. I think it’s fair to say I guess, but I try to look at photos of the animal from the front and back. This shows you the width of the animal’s chest and rear, so you can make a good guess. If you’re still really not sure, an easy way to make the separators adjustable is to use crumpled balls of foil instead of the foam blocks that I used in the book. You can squish the foil if you decide the legs are too far apart, and you can change the angle of the legs, too. I hope this helps. Have fun! 🙂

      Reply
  19. Hola Jonni saludos fraterno desde Venezuela. Amiga yo trabajo con papel mache pero necesito plantillas de las mascaras, estoy haciendo un trabajo que es realizar las mascaras de los animales , para hacer una gran asamblea y discutir y difundir los artículos que aprobaron en la asamblea nacional en defensa de ellos, soy una mujer humilde y no tengo recursos para comprar esas plantillas pero quiero trabajar ayúdeme por favor.

    Reply

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