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


Paper Mache Elephant Pattern

Only $7.00. Click the button to check out safely with PayPal for instant access to the pattern.

Use the pattern along with the video on this site to make your own baby elephant today.

This life-sized baby elephant pattern continues to be the most popular project on this site, and it’s been seen by over a million people on YouTube!.

Even though this sculpture is big and I used a power saw to make the armature, Elsie was not difficult to make. It isn’t a complicated sculpture, just a big one. She was one of the first sculptures I ever made with an internal pattern, and now I almost never make a sculpture without one.

As you’ll see in the video, the steps for this paper mache project are pretty easy. However, each step will take time.

I used a scrap of particle-board for my armature, but you could use plywood or even cardboard. In fact, I recommend it, because the particle board made my elephant a lot heavier than it needs to be. I notice that every time I move her so I can vacuum the floor. 🙂

You can also fill out the body of your paper mache elephant with empty plastic bottles, and then finish the shapes with crumpled paper. This reduces the number of newspapers you need for your project, and it makes the elephant lighter.

Use paper mache 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 probably use the pm 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.

For the paint –

Acrylic paint is expensive, but you can also use house paint for this project. A quart container of grey should be all you need.

Keep your baby elephant inside –

When I started this project, I really thought a few coats of marine varnish would protect her from the elements. Fortunately, I chickened out and kept her inside. Experiments I’ve done since I made the elephant have proven that marine (spar) varnish doesn’t prevent rain and sun from destroying a paper mache sculpture. Be sure to keep your baby elephant inside.

You may also like:

How I painted the Unicorn.Unicorn Pattern
Hyena Mask PatternHyena Mask Pattern
Life Sized Paper Mache Baby ElephantLife-Sized Baby Elephant


  • hi my name is carissa my sons birthday will be aug 19 and iam going to try to make some lizards a elephant and seahorse or i would love to make a giraffe two

  • Looking forward to making an elephant head for my daughter… she loves elephants ? & her birthday is coming up! Will be using eggshells and tissue paper to give a realistic texture to the skin! & glass half marbles for the eyes! Thank you for the great pm clay recipe! I’m looking forward to using it so that I can make him look more realistic ???

    • Hi Meagan. You have some great ideas for your elephant – your daughter is going to be so excited when she sees it. I hope you’ll let us see it, too, if she doesn’t mind sharing a photo of her birthday present. 🙂

  • Each year I be decorating a temple festival hall.. every year I be making some types of elephants.. I really love your elephant..im going to try this for twin elephants at the entrance ..once done I will upload you..thank you so much for sharing this..

    • Hi Judy. Your image is probably too large. Did you see the two links at the very top of the page, before the comment section? One of them might help you reduce the file size of your image. I hope you try again!

  • My first elephant, never did this before. I wanted to make something for my daughter’s baby shower.

    • I used a pattern made with sheet lumber. I would use a thinner plywood if I did it again, probably 3/8″ thick. There are a few scraps of 2×4 lumber for spacers, and the pattern is covered with crumpled paper and masking tape. Then that is covered with paper strips and paste, with a final skin made with kitchen paper towels, for texture. A piece of aluminum mesh is inside the ears, to support them, and the elephant was painted with acrylic paint.

  • Love your videos and instructionals. Brilliant. You have taught me so much! Thank you. It took me a year and a half to make this baby elephant. Happy that my spouse, John encouraged me. Happy that I kept at it, it went through many versions/drafts to get it to this point. 🙂

    • Nicely done! Congratulations – I know it’s a big project, but I’m glad you stuck with it. Do you have a special spot picked out for it? More importantly, does it have a name yet?

      And I think you have a very nice husband, too. 🙂

      • It was right next to our front door and I named it Jazmyn. She willl be back there at the end of May! But something really exciting happened. I submitted it for a exhibition called Raise Your Voice, A Social Justice Show and it got in, so now it is on display at a local art gallery. I called it, “The Elephant in the Room, conversations never had.” Thanks again for all the inspiration, instruction, and information you provide on this site and youtube. 🙂 I look forward to making more paper machete art, I have other projects, like a small dragon, masks and costume and you have been a great resource. 🙂

          • Thank you so much for your step wiseprocedure of paper mache art..your teaching style is awesome n easily understandable..u are my savior reference for my daughter’s project,soon I shall upload my paper mache elephant

            • I look forward to seeing the elephant – is your daughter helping you, or are you helping her? And, more importantly, are you both having fun?

  • I just bought the pattern for the Baby Indian Elephant, but wasn’t sure how large your grid squares were when you transferred them to the particle board. It looked like they might be 2″ squares in order to get the 30″ elephant. Is that about right?

    • Yes, I used two-inch squares. If you’d prefer an elephant in a different size, just divide the intended height with the number of squares on the grid – but I think the 30″ size is perfect. Big enough to make a statement, but still small enough so you can move it around.

      Have fun! And I do hope you’ll show us how your elephant comes out.

    • I forgot to put that into the video, so I added some instructions with the pattern. The hard part is keeping the weight of the wet paper mache from pulling the ears off the head before the paper mache has a chance to dry. You need a really big attachment area extending from the actual ear and spreading out over the side of the head. The extra material gets attached to the head first, with plenty of paper mache (if I did it again, I’d start by attaching the extra wire mesh to the head with hot glue, but I didn’t own one when I made my elephant). When the ears are firmly attached, you start adding paper mache to the actual ear, but just near the head. Let it dry, and keep working upwards. That way, the wet and heavy paper mache never has a chance to pull the ears off.

      Hope that helps.

  • I’m working on Valentine’s Day boxes for my kids, would Elmers glue paste stick to plastic and masking tape?

    • I’ve never tried any kind of paste on plastic, but if you add the masking tape first, you should be able to use the paste to cover the boxes with paper mache. Try it, though – I’ve never done it myself.

    • Hi Steven. Did you try to upload a photo of the item you made out of card board? If so, the image was too large, and it wasn’t uploaded. Please edit the image to make it smaller and try again. We would like to see it.

  • Here is Jazmyn the baby elephant. Thanks for making this video and sharing this project online. It took me a year and a month but it was worth it. Happy that John cheered me on. 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.

    • Hi Sparkle. Did you just now try to upload a photo? If you did, it didn’t come through, and I’d really like to see that elephant! Your photo was probably too large for the system, so I hope you’ll edit the photo to make it smaller, and try again.

  • Hi Jonni,
    I truly admire your work and I am amazed by your talent (art)!!! I was just wondering if there was a way with this pattern to only make its head not its body???
    Thank You

    • Sure – just transfer the head portion to cardboard instead of plywood. You would fill out the shapes of the head with crumpled paper, and build the trunk like I did, or use wire padded with more crumpled paper to make the trunk curve the way you want it to.

      The other option is to use my 3-D pattern for a baby African elephant wall sculpture, which fills out all the shapes for you. You can find it here. There is a charge for that pattern, because it took me so long to design.

      Have fun! And come back to show off your elephant when it’s done.

  • Is it possible to use cardboard or even card stock paper instead of wood? Also have you ever made a lion head video?

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