Fast Panda – an Easy-Peasy Paper Mache Project

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Fast Paper Mache Panda

I had a choice this week after my horse pattern was finished: I could clean up my basement and get it all organized, or I could start a fun, easy art project, instead.

I keep telling you I’m lazy, so guess which one I picked. 🙂

Links mentioned in the video:

Watch the video above to see how to make a panda of your own, or see the snapshots below:

Step 1, Getting Ready:

Choose a size for your panda

If you’ll be using a wooden plaque, like this super-cheap wooden one that I bought at Walmart, get a piece of paper and draw around the edge.

Draw your panda on the paper

Then draw your panda on the paper. This will help you make sure the finished panda will fit on his wooden background.

If you enjoy making the panda and want to make more animals, a great way to get inspiration is to look in kid’s drawing books – like this one. Or browse through the kid’s art books at your local bookstore or do a search on amazon.com for “how to draw animals for kids.”

Then round out your drawing with foil, just like I did with the panda.

Step 2, Sculpting the Forms with Foil:

Shaping the panda face

Start with an upside-down bowl shape that’s slightly wider than it is tall.

Add a muzzle and ears

Add a smaller ball for the muzzle, using hot glue. Then form the cup-shaped ears.

Add foil eyes

Press indentations in the foil where the eyes will go. Then make tiny foil balls, and stick them on with hot glue. (Get them in the right place – I had to move the one on the left.)

Step 3, Cover with Masking Tape

Cover the panda with masking tape

Paper mache paste doesn’t like to stick to foil, so you’ll need to cover your panda with masking tape. If you use paper mache clay you won’t need the tape.

Step 4, Cover with Paper Mache

Cover the panda with paper mache

Use paper strips and paste (recipe here – just use the one you like best) to cover your panda. If you need to correct the shapes, like I did, you can do that with some extra paper strips and paste.

Click here for 5 tips for applying paper mache.

Learn the basics of paper mache here.

Let the paper mache dry all the way through before you paint it. I put mine in front of a furnace vent. If your furnace isn’t on, put it in front of a fan if you’re in a hurry. Just make sure you don’t trap any water inside, not even a little, or your panda could start to grow mold.

Step 5, Adding Fur (Totally Optional):

Add fur with joint compound

I put a very thin layer of drywall joint compound over the paper mache, and used an old chip brush to create fur marks. You don’t need to do this if you don’t have any joint compound already. It only takes a tiny amount, so you might not want to buy it for such a small project.

Let the drywall joint compound dry.

Make the eyes and nose smooth

Smooth the eyes and nose with fine sandpaper or a lightly damp sponge.

Step 6, Priming and Painting:

Add gesso or primer, then white acrylic paint

Add acrylic gesso or latex primer to seal the paper mache and make a nice surface for paint.

Let the gesso or primer dry, then paint the panda with white acrylic paint and let it dry again.

draw the black eye spots

Draw the black eye spots lightly with a pencil.

Painting the black spots on the panda

Paint the black eye spots, ears and nose. You can also add a mustache with black paint thinned with water.

Add reflections in the eyes.

Add white reflection spots in the eyes. I used the light hitting the eyes from the overhead lamp to decide where to put the spots.

Add yellow around the edge

I used Yellow Oxide mixed with white, plus water, to make a very light haze of yellow fur around the outside edge of the head. See the photo to see why I did this. Yellow Ocher would work, too. Or you can just leave it off.

If you have some Golden Glazing Liquid on hand, you can use it instead of water. It makes it easy to remove the excess yellow paint.

Removing most of the yellow paint on the panda

I used a paper towel to remove most of the yellow paint, leaving it just in the dips made by the brush.

Step 7,  Add Varnish

Add varnish

I made my video and wrote this post before the paint was entirely dry, but tomorrow I’ll give my panda a coat of matte acrylic varnish, and then cover the eyes with clear fingernail polish.

Panda, done

If you’re using a wooden plaque, you can stick your panda on it with hot glue.

I really haven’t decided if I’ll put mine on straight, or if I’ll put him on slightly crooked. I also can’t decide if I should repaint my plaque a dark red, for more contrast between the plaque and the panda. Let us know you intend to do it in the comment section below.

And be sure to come back and show off your panda when it’s done. You can do that on the Daily Sculptors page. We’d love to see how it turns out!

5 thoughts on “Fast Panda – an Easy-Peasy Paper Mache Project”

  1. Cute project! This may be the next paper mache project with the grandkids!( or maybe the alien one, I can’t decide)
    I like the black background but definitely think the head should be tilted. It gives him a sort of quizzical look that is so cute about the pandas.
    This would be a great start to a full bodied panda as well.
    Have a great holiday season Jonni!

  2. Have you made a shrimp or lobster.. so happy to have found your page…. I always wanted to learn the process. Thanks

    • No, I haven’t. That would be fun, though. You’d probably need some wire to hold the sections together, but other than that it shouldn’t be too hard. maybe someone will make one for us, so we can see how it’s done. 🙂


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