Linda’s Paper Mache Elephant

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African Animals Pattern Set.
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paper mache elephant tutorialI received an email last week from Linda Backer, with photos of the baby elephant she just finished making. She used the baby elephant video and pattern that I posted here on the blog back in 2009. The video has now been seen by over half a million people, and continues to be the most popular video on my YouTube channel.

Linda did a great job with her elephant, and she took great photos while she was doing it. Not only that, but she kept track of the costs of her project, too. I asked if she’d be willing to let me show you how her elephant came out, and she graciously agreed. Thanks, Linda!

Paper Mache Elephant

©2014 Linda Backer

My elephant is done! (still awaiting a name…) And has taken residence by my front door eating elephant bush (naturally!). I’ve never done paper mache before, and don’t have any artist supplies, so I did opt to spray paint at the end (used a light gray primer, then a coat of granite, textured spray paint before clear coat. My ears are not quite authentic Indian (trace of African), but wanted the flared appearance. It was a lot of work and determination, but I never could have done it without your pattern, video, website, and SUPPORT!

At 66 years old/young, I have more arthritis in my thumb joints and tops of hands than I like to admit, so I think the hardest part was all the tearing of masking tape!

The elephant is on our front gated patio and underneath the roof, so protected from any rain we get in the desert.
Many thanks again for all you give and share on your website and your personal attention to our needs!

Paper Mache Elephant Costs:

I noticed someone asked about expense in making the elephant. This is what I calculated for mine:

  • 1/2″ plywood       $11.00  (half of a 4×8 sheet)
  • 2″ masking tape     10.50 (3 rolls – almost)
  • wood glue                3.50 (1 small bottle)
  • flour/water                  .25
  • alum. ears                  .25 (2 small pieces from $6 roll)
  • joint compound            .25  small amount from $3.50 bucket
  • paper towels         $ 1.00 (less than 1 roll of VIVA textured towels)
  • paint                       17.00 (no paint supplies; bought 1 can primer, 1 can granite texture

My newspapers were free (subscribe daily); I had jig saw, wood screws and sandpaper.

Total $43.75

I’m sure your paint mixing gave a better “skin” but not having any supplies, and being a bit tired at conclusion, I went with the spray cans.

Thanks again,

Linda Backer

Want to Make Your Own Elephant?

Click here to see the life-sized baby Indian elephant (and many other patterns) available for instant download, so you can start your project today.


49 thoughts on “Linda’s Paper Mache Elephant”

  1. Hi Jonni,

    My daughter is getting married and doing a Vintage Circus theme for her wedding, and she loves elephants. I wanted to find her an elephant statue but they’re quite expensive and during my research I came across the elephant tutorial on your website. I have used your paper mache clay in the past to make a scary pumpkin head for Halloween and I love the way it turned out so I decided to give the elephant a try. I have been doing a variety of crafts over the years but have only tried paper mache once before (the pumpkin). I love your paper mache clay, it was so easy to make and easy to work with. The elephant is going to be a surprise for her wedding and I think she is going to love it. I thought I would share it with you, and thank you for the wonderful tutorial.

    • Wendy, if you tried to upload a photo of your elephant, it didn’t work – but we would absolutely love to see it. The idea of a vintage circus wedding is wonderful – what an event that will be!

      Usually, a photo doesn’t get uploaded because it’s too big – you can reduce the file size and try again. And I’ve been told that it doesn’t work to use an iPhone, although I haven’t been able to test that. If you have a chance, please give it another try.

    • Did you get an error message? Are you clicking on the image first, and then right clicking on the large image to save? Tell me how you’re doing it, and maybe I can tell what’s going on with it. I did test it a few minutes ago, and it seemed to be working.

      • I’m making the baby elephant and almost ready for the joint compound mixture, how much joint compound to the other product? I’m 71 and this has been such fun, I work for a non-profit which services adults with disabilities and they are in love with this baby elephant. I’m not a real computer person and don’t know how to contact you so I just did this reply. It’s 9/2/15 and when you can please let me know about the mixture. Thank you for sharing so much of your wonderful art. Sallie

        • Hi Sallie,

          If I did an elephant again, I’d use the paper mache clay recipe (you can find it here) or I’d just use drywall joint compound by itself to fill in any dips, and cover the joint compound, after it dries, with another layer of paper mache. The joint compound will crack if it’s put on thickly, but the paper mache will cover them up nicely. That would be the easiest way to do it.

          You’re comment came through just fine, by the way. I hope you’re having fun making your elephant!

    • Coby, if you go to this page and click on the pattern images on that page, then right-click and choose “save…” it should work. Different browsers have different ways to do this, but it should work in any of them. If you try this and still have problems with it, be sure to let me know so I can help.

  2. Thanks Joni, I’m going to fix her up and make a bigger one. This time I went back and compared mine to yours and was thinking oh my, I should have paid closer attention to Joni’s beautiful baby elephant. I promise she will look better when I fix her, but not as good as my next one. I noticed the upper part of the legs need to be more noticeable, the nose shorter and she needs some toes. Thanks for being so kind.

  3. I’m painting the base coat on my elephant. I will post when I finish . My baby elephant well be my first . Thanks Joni for your beautiful attitude and for inspiring others. I love everything you create. I’m trying the hummingbird and chicken clock.

    • I can’t wait to see your elephant when it’s done. By the way, I tried to go to your Facebook page but the link didn’t work. Did some of the link get left out?

  4. Dear Linda, Jonni,

    Thanks for such nice, easy to follow tutorials. Loved this elephant and thought I’d give it a try. Its my first paper mache project.. The elephant I have made stands around 7 inches tall. I have used cardboard and thermocol for armature as it was a much smaller project and that was handy to me..

    Would love to hear a feedback.


    • Very nice, Swati. I love the colors, and the detailing. What do you call the blanket and headpiece that Indian elephants wear?

  5. You guys have done a wonderful job. I’m going to attempt to make this as well for my daughter’s room. Quick question, what brand of paper towel was used on the original elephant? The texture is amazing.

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi April. I don’t know what brand Linda used. And I made my own elephant so long ago, I’m no longer sure which one I used, either. I usually walk down the paper towel isle at the store, looking at the bumps on the paper through the plastic. The other shoppers probably think I’m nearly blind or something, because you have to get pretty close to see them. If the towel has two plies, you do need to pull them apart and just use one. Otherwise, the top sheet won’t stick. And the texture on the two sides seems to be different, but it isn’t usually different enough to matter.

      Be sure to show us your elephant when it’s done!

  6. Dear Linda

    Hi, we are from a charity group in Malaysia. We need to make a live size paper mache cow sculpture for an exhibition in December 2014 & we need a cow pattern to use to make it. Can you provide the pattern to us? Please reply ASAP.

    Thank you very much

    • Hi Judith. I’m not sure I understand the question. If you’re talking about sculpting a life-like foot, you might do a YouTube search – a lot of clay sculptors have detailed instructions for many things, although I don’t know if there’s any feet videos yet. Feet are really complicated to sculpt, if you’re trying to make them look real. Let us know a bit more what you’re trying to do and the kind of advice you’re looking for, and we might be able to be more helpful.

  7. Hello!! My name is Victoria, I’m from Argentina. Looking for information about paper mache online, I found the video on Youtube where you show how to make the elephant , so then I visited this website. I like what you do, it’s great! I would appreciate if you could give some advice to make the elephant I send in the picture that I upload. I will start trying with a small elephant, but I don’t know which of your recipes will be better for this work. Thank you for your help!

    • Hi Victoria. If you’re making a small elephant, you can use the traditional paper strips with paste made out of flour and water, or you could use the paper mache clay recipe. The ingredients are difficult to find in some countries, though, so the paper strips and paste might be easier.

  8. Thank you ALL for your positive comments – I hope that I did inspire you – Jonni was such an inspiration to me (though I don’t possess her many talents). I downloaded her coloring book for my grandchildren – wonderful and educational! When I’m feeling brave again, I’m going to try to develop my own pattern for a tortoise (from the other half of the 4×8 sheet of plywood!)

  9. love her so much never too old i’m working on a dragon inspired by jonni next baby eleohant for me too love fron australia

  10. Wow, I am SOOOO impressed! What a cutie he turned out to be–and I love his wrinkles. Thanks for sharing your project and for posting such wonderful photos!

    • Thank you! Jonni told me to expect comments on my elephant, but so surprised to see such nice comments relating to me!

  11. ADORABLE! And what a great job Linda!
    Kindra is a name I would consider, or something that means Kindred Spirit, because you’ve made something that looks like it has love. And that’s a wonderful gift at anyone’s front door. ; )

  12. Really nice! It looks quite cute in your garden. My daughter has been hounding me to make an elephant just this week, and now this post! Maybe it’s a sign…….I need to learn to use a jigsaw.


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