Easy Pattern for a Life-Sized Baby  Elephant


This project takes time and patience to complete, but don’t let the size scare you. It’s actually a fairly easy project. 

In fact, the video below has been seen by 1.4 million people, and thousands of people have used the pattern to successfully create their own lovable baby elephants. That means you can do it, too.

What happens after you order:

This is a downloadable PDF Pattern with full instructions, so there’s no waiting, and no shipping costs. You can start on your project right away

You’ll be able to download your pattern right after you order. You’ll also receive an email with the download link, and a separate receipt. The emails may take a few minutes to arrive. If you don’t see them, be sure to check your spam or promotions folder.

Be sure to download your pattern directly to your computer or device, so you can access it again later.

This baby elephant pattern has been used successfully by hundreds of people from around the world.

In fact, it continues to be one of the most popular projects on this site. Scroll down below the video to see just a few of the photos that have been sent in by people who used this pattern.

The finished size of the paper mache sculpture shown above is 29″ high and 36″ long from trunk to tail. If you don’t have room for a sculpture that size, or if you want one that’s even bigger, the size is easy to change. (Some people have even used the pattern to create life-sized adult elephants!)

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

Note: 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 that’s at least 48″ square.
  • 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. You can find the recipe for my now-famous paper mache clay in the Art Libray on this site.

Note: Keep your baby elephant in the house –

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 does not prevent rain and sun from destroying a paper mache sculpture, so be sure to keep your baby elephant inside.


Just a few of the 100’s of baby elephants made with this pattern …

Jumbo the baby elephant
Jumbo the baby elephant
Ella's elephant
Ella's elephant
Elephant made for Lacey High School homecoming dance.
Elephant made for Lacey High School homecoming dance.
Jim's Elephant
Jim's Elephant
Soul's Elephant
Soul's Elephant
Teresa's elephant for her son
Teresa's Elephant, a Present for Her Son
Judy Vretenar made this adorable elephant for her daughter's baby shower.
Judy Vretenar made this elephant for her daughter's baby shower.
Ash's Elephant
Ash's Elephant
Kelly's Elephant
Kelly's Elephant
Kim's Elephant
Kim's Elephant
Pearl's Elephant
Pearl's Elephant
Linda's Elephant
Linda's Elephant

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Do you have a question or need help with your pattern?

I love questions!

There are two ways to contact me:

The fastest way to get an answer is to leave a comment on this page. I read all comments and answer them as soon as I can, usually within a few hours. Some of my readers might also chime in to help – we have a very supportive community here on this site.

If you prefer to reach me privately, you can send me an email.  I’ll try to respond as quickly as I can, but if you don’t hear back from me within 24 hours, assume the cyberspace gremlins ate your email and try again.

300 thoughts on “How to Make a Life-Sized Baby Elephant with Paper Mache”

  1. I used your ideas and instructions to make a baby elephant with my sons class at school last year. I used recycled plastic wrapping to build the body up, then paper for outer layers. A hot may half term week last year helped dry the layers. The children helped paint her, then christened her Ellie.

  2. Hi Jonni,love your creations, I recently made a mother jiraffe of 7feet tall and her baby, it was not easy task but everybody loved them…

  3. 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!

  4. Hi! I just wanna say that I really appreciate your teachings and advice. Because of you, I have been working with this medium for two years now and I love it. I recently made this out of paper clay and am giving it away. I’m hoping to do a humongous elephant trophy head soon! Thanks for being you!

    • Hi Leldon. Did you try to send an image with your comment? It didn’t come through – probably because it was too big. Images need to be less then 250 KB to upload. If you don’t have image editing software, you can use this free online tool to make it smaller. I really hope you’ll try again – we want to see how your sculpture came out! 🙂

  5. It gives us a laugh and it’s nice to have around the house. I had to go back to the drawing board and try steps over to get a good shape and we modified the ears. Look forward to more paper mache experiences. Keep up the good work. Glad I can finally share this with you.

    • Tuky, did you try to send an image with your comment? It didn’t come through – probably because it was too big. Images need to be less then 250 KB to upload. If you don’t have image editing software, you can use this free online tool to make it smaller. I really hope you’ll try again – we want to see your elephant! 🙂

  6. Wow!!! its so much real, Look at those eyes the best part in this elephant sculpture. This is the first time I am visiting your site but not the last I really liked your work.

  7. Hello!

    I’m trying to use this template to make an adult elephant. I’m trying to figure out just how much of the paper Mache clay I’m going to need? Can someone give me recommendations for how many batches of this clay I will need to make? Our adult elephant will be about 6 ft tall!!!

    I am also trying to figure out how much time it takes to dry between each layer of paper Mache?

    • Hi Kylie. Do you intend to use both paper mache clay and paper strips and paste on your elephant? If so, you could just use the paper mache clay to create the eyes or other finer details, and let the traditional paper strips and paste act as the ‘skin’ for the rest of the beast. Each batch of paper mache clay makes about three cups, more or less. I haven’t done the math to figure out how much that amount would cover in a thin layer. You only need 1/16th of an inch to make a strong surface. When I make larger items I double the recipe, using a paint mixer and a big bucket for mixing, and when I run out I make some more. Not very scientific, I’m afraid.

      You might want to ask over on the Daily Sculptors page. It’s possible that someone has a better answer for you.

      For the question about drying, it’s really hard to say. It depends so much on the humidity, the temperature, whether or not the air is moving… Any answer I give you is bound to be wrong. However, I don’t dry my paper mache strips and paste between layers as a general rule. Every new wet layer will make the lower layers wet again, so I just let them all dry together. However, if you intend to use many layers, instead of a just a few, letting them dry between layers might be a good idea.

  8. Jonni- You are so very talented!!!!!!!! Watched the baby elephant video and it was very helpful! Dave- LOVE this elephant for Phantom of the Opera!!! I am working on an Arabian Night ballet fundraiser and want to make two elephants for the entry way. I’m wanting it to be about the same size. Do you have a pattern you could share?
    Thanks so much!!

    • Hi Amy. I don’t know if Dave is still watching this site for comments, but all of the adult elephants in the gallery were made using the baby elephant pattern. You just copy it onto plywood in any size you want. Big elephants need tusks, too, of course.

  9. Hi Jonni
    I been following you for some time. I recently made a baby elephant 20 inch size . I am giving Ellie Elephant to my daughter who adores Indian Elephants . I wanted to drop you a note Thanking you for all the information you are sharing with us. I attached a photo .I now am working on a sculpture of one of my dogs with your air dry clay it’s coming along real good.

    • Hi Vinni. I don’t have another pattern with the trunk in a different position, but you can easily put it any way you want. Just cut off the pattern a few inches from the beginning of the trunk, and then draw a new trunk on cardboard. Cut it out and tape it onto the elephant, and you’re good to go. 🙂

  10. I was wondering the brand names for the joint compound and the cellulose insulation that you used. Also is there a particular ratio that you found works best for this particular type of project?

    • Hi Brittney. I don’t use cellulose insulation anymore. I use the paper mache clay recipe, instead. It works much better, and you don’t need to buy an entire bale of insulation to make it. I use any brand except DAP in my clay recipe. In fact, I usually use the drywall joint compound they sell at Walmart. If you just want to make some spots on your elephant smoother you can use the joint compound by itself, and then cover it with one more layer of paper strips and paste.

    • Hi Shawna. I cut the aluminum mesh extra long, so some of it could overlap the head for a firm connection. I think I also ran some small nails with large heads through the mesh to temporarily hold it in place. You need to work slowly with the paper mache, attaching the mesh to the head first, and let it dry. Then work up the ears, a few inches at a time, and letting the paper mache dry each time. If you try to add all the wet paper mache at once, the weight will pull the ears off.

      If you happen to have some extra wire at your house, you could made the attachment even more secure by running wire all around the edge of one ear, across the top of the head, and around the edge of the other ear. Once the paper mache goes over the extra wire between the ears it will be very firmly attached.

      I hope this helps. Do we get to see your elephant when it’s done?

  11. Hi Jonni, i absolutly love your paper mache creations . just wondering what are the mesurments of the Elephant please. kind regards levi

    • Hi Levi. The finished size of the baby elephant is 29? high and 36? long from trunk to tail, if you transfer the pattern onto a grid with 2″ squares. But you can change the size easily to make your own elephant bigger or smaller, just by changing the size of the squares on your pattern grid.

  12. Hi, My name is Misty. Thanks for sharing this awesome project with us!!! I’m so excited to get started, but I had a little problem when I printed everything out. It did not print out the grid / diagram that I’m suppose to use to draw out the elephant. Can you help please?

    Thanks a bunch! 🙂

    • Hi Misty. There should be a blue grid over the pattern. Did you see it when you opened the file? If you did, then maybe you don’t have any color ink left in your printer. I always run out of color ink, myself, so I set the printer to print “fast” and “greyscale.” That would print the grid over the elephant pattern.

      I hope this helps. If not, please let me know.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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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