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How to Make a Life-Sized Baby Elephant with Paper Mache

Sculpting Pattern for Life-Sized Paper Mache Elephant

Baby Indian Elephant Sculpture Pattern

See details below to see how to use the pattern to make your own paper mache baby elephant sculpture.

This pattern has been successfully used by hundreds of people to create their own paper mache elephants.

This project takes time and patience to complete, but it’s a fairly easy. In fact, this was one of the first sculptures I ever made with an internal pattern, and now I almost never make a sculpture without one. The pattern makes sculpting so much easier!

The finished size of the paper mache sculpture shown above is 29″ high and 36″ long from trunk to tail, (but you can change the size easily to make your own elephant bigger or smaller.)

Watch the video below to see how to make your elephant sculpture.

I copied the pattern onto sheet of plywood, as you’ll see in the video, but if I made this elephant today I’d use a piece of cardboard from a large appliance carton instead. Cardboard is much lighter than wood.

To make this elephant sculpture you’ll need:

  • A large sheet of heavy cardboard or a scrap of thin plywood.
  • Lots of recycled newspaper to fill the inside
  • Masking tape.
  • Aluminum mesh wire for the ears
  • Flour and water paste
  • More newspaper for the paper mache
  • Paper towels for the final skin
  • Acrylic or latex paint
  • Acrylic varnish

Use either paper strips and paste or paper mache clay –

I didn’t invent my paper mache clay recipe until after I made this elephant. Since the paper mache clay goes on faster than paper strips and paste, I’d  use the paper mache clay if I made another life-sized elephant. However, I’d still use the final layer of paper towels to get that realistic elephant-skin look.

Note: Keep your baby elephant inside –

When I made my own elephant sculpture I thought a few coats of marine varnish would protect her from the elements. That’s why I took some photos of her out in the garden. I changed my mind after I did some experiments. Marine (spar) varnish doesn’t prevent rain and sun from destroying a paper mache sculpture, so be sure to keep your baby elephant inside.

You might also like:

To see even more patterns for sculptures and masks, click here.

Questions?

You can ask in the comment field below. I read all the comments, and I’ll get back to you as soon as I can. Or send me an email – [email protected] – be sure to put “paper mache” in the subject line so your email won’t get accidentally deleted.

Make an adorable life-sized paper mache Indian elephant with this pattern, designed by Jonni Good. This is a big project, but it's a lot easier than it looks. Thousands of people have downloaded the pattern and successfully made their own elephants, and it's still the most popular pattern on the site. http://www.UltimatePaperMache.com/patterns

270 Comments

  • I love them at all ages, sizes, or stages. They may grow much larger than a human being but no matter what age we need to love and care for them even if human beings cannot use them. But they start as babies and usually grow to an adult.

  • It’s great that you used wood for the frame. . . I tried to make a whale for Vacation Bible School one year – made the frame out of chicken wire and then started the paper mache´ process . . . Luckily, I was working outside on the deck. The whole thing collapsed and I gave up (and REALLY filled the garbage for that week! . . . I think we still had some paper mache´ bumps on the deck when we sold the house!
    Your project looks intriguing. . . I’d like to give it a try!

    • I’ve never had any luck with chicken wire myself. But what an interesting coincidence – we just got a guest post today from Esther, who made a very large paper mache whale, using chicken wire. There was welding involved, too, which made a big difference. Check it out here.

      I do hope you’ll try making the baby elephant – it isn’t hard to do, and I’m sure you’ll have a lot of fun.

  • hi!! I had a to make a very big elephant for some school parthy, your elephant it’s wonderfull but i don’t imagine myself doing it, because I want to make it of a height of 1,70 meters, can you give me some kind of advise how to give it the shape of a real elephant like yours, I will be very gratefull. I’ll wait for your answer

    • Hi Lucía. Many people have made life-sized adult elephants using the video and pattern on this page. You just have to make the pattern bigger, and you’ll want to fill out the forms with really lightweight items, like empty plastic bottles or bubble wrap, instead of crumpled paper. The paper gets really heavy for something that big.

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