How to Make a Paper Mache Cat, Lesson #1 – Making the Pattern

grey cat mask pattern

Note: If you like cats but you’d like to start with an easier, faster project, check out my cat mask. The pattern creates all the shapes for you so it’s a fast, fun project. You can see it here.


A few days ago I asked if anyone would like me to put together a series of lessons, a “class,” if you will, on how to make a paper mache cat. The response was pretty overwhelming. In fact, there are now over 70 comments on that post, more than I’ve ever received so quickly.

There were so many, in fact, that I haven’t been able to respond personally to everyone, but please be assured that I did read your comments, every single one of them, and I’m taking all your suggestions very seriously.

Several people even suggested other subjects that we might work on in our next class, and I’m putting them all on a list.

I’m hoping that you’ll keep us posted on your progress as you build your own paper mache cat, through your comments on the blog posts. If you have any questions, I’ll be happy to try to answer them. If you want to upload a photo of your paper mache cat as you work on it so we can all see how you’re doing, that would be great.

I know that you’ll give each other encouragement and support as we work through these lessons. In fact, you’ll be doing me a huge favor if you jump in and answer each other’s questions and offer suggestions when needed. That way, I’ll know that everyone in the class is getting the attention they need, even if I don’t have time to respond to every comment right away.

If you’d rather not make your own pattern, feel free to use mine. Just click here and save the pdf file to your computer, and print it out.

Then you can use it when we do our next lesson – on transferring the pattern to cardboard, which will then become the armature inside our paper mache cat.

You’re welcome to use this pattern for your own paper mache cat, or make your own using the instructions in the video above.

Enjoy!

All of the lessons to make a paper mache cat:

 

58 thoughts on “How to Make a Paper Mache Cat, Lesson #1 – Making the Pattern”

  1. Jonni,
    I know I have commented and contacted you a couple of times over various things, but I have yet to do more than make a mold of my face and my daughters face for “future works of art” LOL I realize that the day goes by and I have sat watching your video’s and reading your blog, learning, but I have yet to create anything other than notes
    Your blog and video’s leave me awe struck! I have started a journal of your recipe’s and notes for how to’s and after a month of watching (and re-watching) your video’s, today is the day I start I start creating !! 🙂 I hope to have pictures soon to share of finished projects.

    I have decided I am going to start 2 or 3 different projects, so that as one step is drying, I have another to transition to, and so on. (If I become overwhelmed, I’ll just set the others in a corner until the first is complete)

    But, something occurred to me when watching this video and some of your others when you talk about making a graph… counted cross stitch patterns have almost every subject you can imagine, at almost every angle, and you can pick up used ones at yard sales, flea markets and on ebay for almost nothing, and the best part is, it’s already on a graph, so you could create a larger graph to transfer the portion of the picture that you need or want for a project. Once I get my feet wet with the 3 projects I plan on starting today and tomorrow, I am going to dig out some of my counted cross stitch patters from years gone by and try one, to see how it goes 🙂

    Thank you so much for all you do!

    Reply
    • Hi Becky. I can’t wait to see how those projects turn out! And you’re right – if you can find the right cross-stitch patterns, they would work really well. If you try one, I hope you’ll share the process with us.

      Another place where you can sometimes find good patterns is in books for wood carvers and jigsaw patterns. They have lots of animals, and you can get many of them for free online.

      Reply
      • Jonni, That is very true! I will have to look into that, as I have wood worker right next door 🙂

        My employment is seasonal, and we will be shutting down for 6 weeks at Thanksgiving time, so that will give me time to go out into my shed to get my box of x-stitch patterns and give it a try 🙂

        I am excited to say, I have been promise some of your books for Christmas, so I hope to have some of your projects completed during next year as my work schedule allows 🙂

        Thanks again, so very much

        Reply
  2. Hi I’m making a project of a wild cat but I wanted to know if there were any kinds of fabric that look like fur and that are easy to get a hold of

    Reply
    • Yes, you can find fake fur fabric, usually in fabric stores. Or your local thrift store might have someone’s cast-off fake fur coat that you could take apart and recycle.

      Reply
  3. I’m looking into making a paper mâché tiger with my son for his 3rd grade project. I watched the first video on cats and think I get it but I’m not sure where to find the next ones. Plus any advise would be very much appreciated! It’s my first paper mâché attempt but he has his heart set on it! And we are required to do a 3d object 🙂

    Reply
    • Hi Kadee. You can find all of the links to the cat videos on the Extended Tutorials page. (Just scroll down).

      Another tutorial (a baby Panda, not a cat) might also be helpful. It’s an easier project, and uses paper strips instead of the paper mache clay. I got a bit carried away with adding clay fur on my cat, which increased the drying time considerably, so if you use the clay, you might want to make a smooth-coated cat, and paint on the strips or spots. Also, I always recommend using mineral oil instead of the linseed oil in the clay recipe when working with kids, to avoid the chemicals in the linseed oil.

      I hope you’ll show us the tiger when it’s done.

      Reply
    • The length of time depends on the thickness of the paper mache, the humidity in the air, the temperature, whether or not the air is moving… In other words, there’s no specific answer to your question. But I can say that paper hangs on to water, so give your panther a lot of time to dry – a week may be needed.

      Reply
  4. Well, I´d like to start with your cat… Do you think it is very hard for someone that is starting, or it´s okay?
    Thanks,
    Bia

    Reply
    • It isn’t “easy” exactly, but if you do it one step at a time, you should be able to make a cat. Consider the first one “practice,” so you won’t be totally disappointed if it doesn’t turn out to be a masterpiece. Learn from your first one, and then make something else. And remember to have fun!

      Reply
      • Thank you, Jonni!
        I am going to try, and, after I finish it, I´ll send ya a picture of my “practice” cat!
        Thanks,
        Bia

        Reply
        • Hey jonni. been watching the paper clay videos. Can’t wait to try that stuff. I gathered all the supplies. now, to actually get at it! question: how do I post a pic of a project? And How do I make a comment without using a reply from some other post? sorry kind of new to this.

          Reply
          • Hi Jackie. You can begin a new conversation by scrolling down to the very bottom of the page, where you’ll find a blank text box. Put your comment there, and it will begin a new thread. Under the Post Comment button you’ll see Browse button. Click the button, choose the image that has been saved from your computer, and hit the Open button. The image will load only if it’s been saved in a small enough size, so you may need to edit it first.

            Have fun!

            Reply
    • And, Jonni, I can´t do the Paper Mache Clay, cause I don´t have the joint compound. Is there any way to make a paper mache that still can receive details like the clay?
      Thanks for all the attention,
      Beatriz

      Reply
  5. Hi, Jonni!
    I really liked even the begginning of your cat, and I´d REALLY like to make one, but I have a problem: I never made anything with paper mache… And I don´t know how to start! What do you recommend for me? Could you give any advice?
    Thanks,
    Bia, from Brazil

    Reply
    • Hi Beatriz. There are tons of tutorials on this site. I would suggest that you just find a project that you would enjoy trying, and then jump in!

      Reply
  6. Hi Ms. Jonni, i love much all your masterpieces, i watched again and again your videos in you tube and i want to try to make my own paper mache. You really inspired me because of your lovely works…..God bless always Jonni…

    Reply
  7. I just started following your instructions however instead of a cat I am making a horse for a school project. I have just finished the cardboard armature and it is looking okay. She is quite small, about 21 cm tall. She is a Percheron mare, it is for a French assignment so I want to give her a French name, the Percheron is a French breed in case you are wondering 🙂

    Reply
  8. hello, i am so grateful for your blog and youtube channel, it really inspires me! if you have enough time would it be possible to show us how to create an easy way of making a sculpture of a face? i am doing a project at school and i like the idea of creating a sculpture of a face and using expressive paint techniques to show emotions. i am just not sure how to create the face sculpture! thank you very much 🙂 lot of love xox

    Reply
  9. Hi, my name is Ashleigh and I am making a cat for an art contest. I am 10 years old and I just love your user friendly way of teaching this tutorial. I am sending in a drawing with it so it will be multimedia. I was wondering, would you make a tutorial for making a wolf?

    Reply
  10. Hi Jonni,Just a cautionary note to other students. I’ve used my own photos and find that if I don’t have a perfect side view my sbject is foreshortened. (Foreshorten: Object appears compressed when seen from a particular viewpoint, and the effect of perspective causes distortion) I love the process and plan to do many more things. l appreciate your willingness to share your knowledge and experience. I’ll send photos when I get my sculpture further along. Thank you Julie

    Reply
  11. hi Jonni
    I discovered your paper mache cat lessons online and i am half way through!
    i think they are wonderful lessons and once i have finished the cat i will definitely be trying out the other paper mache lessons – it is so fun!
    THANK YOU

    Reply
  12. I have 2 cats and both are being quite uncooperative. : ) I have a side view of Molly all tucked up with no legs.
    [img]http://ultimatepapermache.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Molly-sitting-grid11-600.jpg[/img]

    And I found a side view of a serval cat (literally google images ‘side view cat’ it was the 4th photo that came up).

    [img]http://ultimatepapermache.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/papermachecatclass1.jpg[/img]

    So I figure one of these should work, or maybe my cats will cooperate a little more in the future.

    I’d like to learn legs, and paws, so I’m thinking it’s important that they be visible in the photo. Yes?

    Reply
    • For learning legs and paws, you would definitely need a chance to practice on them. But the lying down kitty would make a nice sculpture, too. You could do both!

      That serval cat is beautiful, too. Those spots would be a lot of fun to paint. How big are they?

      Reply
  13. I have to try making the cat , I love the scary cat uploaded above…!! I want to thank you in advance for taking the time to make these videos…it is so thoughtful of you. I made the snowy owl with you awhile ago…that was fun!! I will be watching for other animals to come!!!

    Reply
  14. Hi Jonni
    I was thinking, are you planning on making your class videos downloadable to a hard drive or disk? That way you can plan on a regular class and people can come back to your site for the back issues of tutorials which are invaluable. This is the best site I see for paper mache ideas and construction. I am talking only of the classes. The other tutorials can be looked up at your archived portion of your blog. Can you have some of your readers post a guest ebook or report in the pdf format on a subject like armatures, styles and processes of paper mache? I was thinking about that last night. Just looking at possibilities and ideas. I am sure some are better than others.

    Reply
    • Hi Christine. The videos will stay on the blog and on YouTube, so you will be able to find them later. I like the idea of doing the guest ebook, like we did before with the Practical Paper Mache projects, (thank you for helping with that one!). I’m not quite sure how to go about it, though. Most people will be adding their ideas in the comment section, so we can all learn from each other, so I don’t know if another ebook would be needed. Hmmmm – we’ll need to think about this a bit more…

      Reply
  15. I hope the class are not far apart. If you give a time span when the lessons on the cat I think people would try to schedule time for it. I think that would keep the lessons on their mind.

    Reply
  16. I am so happy to see your first post on how to paper mache. I want to learn more about detailing it. It is so kind of you do this for us.

    Reply
    • I’m having fun. Someone out on my YouTube channel is even thinking about getting some people together so they can do the project as a group. But I’m wondering how I’ll know when it’s time for me to go on to the next step – I don’t want to rush people, and I don’t want people to get bored. Any ideas?

      Reply
      • I’d say it’s all on the complexity of the steps. This first one, finding a picture and drawing the grid, is relatively simple and could probably be followed up quickly with lesson 2. Maybe just a day or two to make sure everyone who wanted to be on board could be. Probably the same with the next one of transferring the photo grid to the cardboard grid.

        As the lessons become more involved, such as cutting the foam blocks at the right angles (assuming we’ll be doing that), padding the armature, and applying the clay, you’d probably want to allow more time.

        Of course, people have said they might have difficulty participating because of time restrictions so you might not want to go too fast, but since the lessons are out there on your site and YouTube, those with less time available will always have an opportunity to catch up when their calendars open up.

        So I’d say a day or two for the easier steps and maybe a few days more for the more involved ones or ones where you’re teaching new techniques where this is the first time someone’s tried it.

        Rich

        Reply
  17. Lesson 1 complete!

    I decided to play by the rules and make a cat, but it will be a Halloween-style cat: black and with an arched back.

    Rich
    [img]http://ultimatepapermache.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Cat2.jpg[/img]

    Reply
  18. Thanks Jonni – I’m going to try to get the correct picture of one of my cats, if not yours is going to be the one I will use, only I want it just slightly bigger. I guess that enlarging it will entail drawing a two inch grid on my cardboard paper instead of the one inch grid that you now have superimposed on yours- correct? Let me know, and thanks – this class sound like such fun. Joanne

    Reply
    • Hi Joanne. You’re right about the squares – I’ll be making my cat bigger, too. I’m sorry we aren’t doing a bobcat this time, but after you get this one done you could easily make one. I was in such a hurry when I made my bobcat that I didn’t take any pictures, but the process is always pretty much the same.

      Good luck with that photo. It’s funny how an animal that stays in suspended animation for 80% of the day always seems to be in a hurry to be somewhere else whenever we get out the camera.

      Reply
  19. What a wonderful class and video! Good job Jonni! I might be too busy to make a cat. I’ve been working on building a network for artists with kids. I hope you don’t mind if I tell everyone about it?

    Info:
    Are you an artist and parent? (any medium) Please consider joining our new network!

    Hello fellow artist-parents! Let’s talk about juggling being a mom/dad and being an artist. I’ve already collected a months worth of tips and am excited to share them! And we would love to read your tips! We’ll talk about finding time, studio management, finding energy, loving parenting techniques, and more. I hope you find this network helpful and inviting. Please post your URL and talk about YOU. You’ll get the link to your site, AND if you post a useful tip… I’ll get you some extra publicity. 🙂

    http://jessiesfineart.com/blog/2012/02/24/juggling-art-careers-and-kids-friday-network/

    Reply
    • Hi Jessie. I checked that post and it looks like a lot of fun. I know several people have said that they’d like to take this class on how to make a paper mache cat, but they can’t find the time. It’s really hard to do artwork while also being responsible for kids and maybe even hold down a job, too – so I think this is a fabulous idea. Like you mention in your post, part of the challenge isn’t just finding the time – when you do manage to snag a few minutes, it’s important to have the right attitude so you get the most out of the few minutes you have to work on your art. I hope a whole lot of people join your new network. Keep us posted.

      Reply

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