Pattern for a life-sized baby elephant in paper mache

Easy Pattern for a Life-Sized Baby  Elephant

$7.00

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.

This is a downloadable PDF Pattern with full illustrated instructions: 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.

This baby elephant pattern has been used by hundreds of people who have successfully created paper mache baby elephants of their own. In fact, this continues to be one of the most popular projects on this site.

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.

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

$7

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 an email to [email protected] – I get a ton of spam and I don’t want your email to get lost, so please put “paper mache” in the subject line. If you don’t hear back from me within 24 hours, assume the cyberspace gremlins ate your email and try again.

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

  1. 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

  2. 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. 🙂

  3. 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!

    • 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.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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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