Make a Waterproof Paper Mache Mushroom for the Garden

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waterproofing paper macheToday’s guest post is by Linda Bunnell, who made this life-like paper mache mushroom. She shows us how she made it and the product she used to make her mushroom weatherproof so it could stay outside.

I haven’t seen anyone using this product before, and I haven’t tested it myself, but it certainly opens up some exciting opportunities for experiments.

Thanks, Linda, for sharing this article with us!

How I Made My Waterproof Paper Mache Mushroom

©2017 Linda Bunnell

Here are the steps by which I made my mushroom.


Supplies for paper mache mushroom
Some of the items I used to create my paper mache mushroom

I used:

  • 9 1/2″ plastic plate I bought at a thrift store, (you could also use a plastic bowl of the size you choose)
  • water bottle , (you could substitute a Pringles can ,etc)
  • plaster
  • plaster cloth
  • masking tape
  • newspapers
  • paper pulp
  • Rust-Oleum LeakSeal
  • Acrylic paint

Step 1:

Mix water & plaster & fill the bottle 1/3 – 1/2 full. Set aside to dry.

Step 2:

Wad up newspaper & tape to your plate until you get the desired shape of your mushroom cap , be sure to make a roll over the edge of the plate for the bottom edge of your cap.

Creating the cap for paper mache mushroom.
Creating the cap for paper mache mushroom.

Step 3:

Next cut a piece of cardboard to fit the inside of cap ( note black lines in photo). Find the center of your cardboard & cut a X to fit the plastic bottle & insert it cap first & tape & hot glue securely.

designing a paper mache mushroom
Cut cardboard as shown.

Step 4:

Cut strips of plaster cloth & wrap the bottle

recycled materials in paper mache sculpture
Attaching plastic bottle to cardboard and cap of mushroom.


armature for paper mache mushroom
Wrap stem with plaster cloth.

Step 5:

Cover your mushroom & stem with paper mache (strips or pulp). Let dry completely. This may take a while. Don’t forget to make your gills under the cap. [Note from Jonni – you could also use paper mache clay, or find a recipe for paper pulp here.]

Add paper mache strips of paper pulp to mushroom.
Add paper mache strips of paper pulp to mushroom.

Step 6 (optional):

At this point you can coat your mushroom with a thin coat of Patch if you like a very smooth look. Let dry.

Use patching plaster to smooth surface.

Step 7:

After drying, spray with water sealer & let dry. You may coat it 2-3 times letting dry completely each time & making sure you get in all the cracks and crevices.

Waterproofing paper mache with several coats of Rust-Oleum LeakSeal.
Waterproofing paper mache with several coats of Rust-Oleum LeakSeal.

Step 8:

Now you are ready for painting. Use acrylic paint, a variation of near the same color , dark , medium & light. I chose Asphaltum brown, Raw Sienna & Buttermilk. I also used Antiquing gel & blending gel.

After painting spray a couple coats of a clear sealer.

The completed paper mache mushroom, after sealing and painting.
The completed paper mache mushroom, after sealing and painting.

Hope you have enjoyed this post. Please let me know how you did. Would love to hear from you.

Thanks , Linda 🙂

Make a Waterproof Paper Mache Mushroom for the GardenPS: I’m happy to say that my mushroom has been outside since I made it last year. It has gone through Fl summers & winters & is still in great shape. Still looks like I just made it.

27 thoughts on “Make a Waterproof Paper Mache Mushroom for the Garden”

  1. Hello !
    I love this website and enjoy all the inspiration it’s given me!


    I do have a question. Can I substitute something else for the plaster cloth? It’s a bit expensive.

    Thank you again!

    -Robin Elizabeth

    • Use masking tape to connect the plastic bottle to the top. This is a paper mache product, just use what you have ,if it is paper pulp use that,or if it’s the old and great way glue, flower/plaster paris,and of course newspaper/wrapping paper. Use what you have. These will do the same thing it may take a bit longer to dry.
      I have used the plaster cloth on many projects, and it is a very great suggestion. But I had to go without using it due to lack of funds.Last time I bought a package of plaster cloth it was$12 to $14 (which was years ago), now with the price hike on everything, I myself dislike shopping.

  2. I have been searching for a long time for something like this; you got it. I love your creations.
    I’m excited to make this, thank you.

  3. hi. i did a painted doormat once, and found the flex seal brand spray. if you completely coat yout project, at least twice, it works wonderfully.

  4. I have been following comments on different posts about waterproofing paper mache. I do a lot of paper mache/paper clay work. My problem with weather extremes is the opposite from most of you. I live in Arizona, and our summers are brutal. I do have a shaded backyard, which helps, and variable shade in front. Right now I have another problem. My step-daughter has started collecting gnomes, and I’m making one for her, trying to use non-paper supplies to increase the weatherproofing. The only paper product I’ve used so far on it is masking tape. She lives in coastal northern California. Lots of rain and fog there, so waterproofing is more important, as well as weight since I’m shipping it. He’s right at 20″ tall, and I’m at the point where I am ready to waterproof. It has me stuck. I’m wondering if any of you have mastered this problem with regard to the most reliable, thorough, long-term waterproofing. Is there a central location for people who do paper mache to discuss successes and challenges (like a Facebook page)? I do mostly art dolls and sculptures, but I think the technique and supplies are the important things to share. I know I learn from every piece I make. I am a retired executive assistant and a self-taught artist.

    • Hi Pat. So far, it looks like Linda’s suggestions on this post are the ones most likely to succeed over time. She lives in northern Florida, where it rains a lot, and she told me that it’s still standing, and still outside.

      I gave up on trying to find products to put over paper mache to waterproof them, but a lot of people do experiment with different products. I prefer to use waterproof materials outside so I don’t run the risk of losing the piece. None of my previous experiments worked, so I gave up. I now use epoxy clay over a crumpled foil form, and for larger pieces I use waterproof grout, like I did for this garden gnome. He didn’t weight too much so I had to stick him onto a concrete base to keep our Minnesota wind from taking him away.

      Your idea of a place to share ideas sounds great. A lot of people visit our Daily Sculptors page every day, but it really isn’t quite what you’re looking for. Have you visited the http://www.papiermache.co.uk/ website?

    • Hello! I just read your post about needing tips for waterproofing projects, so I thought I’d drop you a line and tell you what works for me. I make, what I call, “Dead Dolls”, which are similar to the popular “Living Dead Dolls”, but mine are quite a bit cheaper than theirs are! I basically take donated dolls at Thrift shops, Goodwill, etc…., & re-design them to look ‘dead’. Needless to say, after repainting their face & body, I want that work to stay put, so I usually use either clear Kilz CLear Coat spray, or any other spray laquer. I got mine at Dollar Tree, which is obviously much cheaper than some of the other places out there. Scotch also has a really good spray clear coat that is specially formulated for outdoor projects, & though it’s more expensive than the ones that Dollar Tree carries, it works excellent. If you have any projects that you can’t use the spray on, but that you need to apply the clear coat with a brush, I like using “The Original Super Glue 5 Minute Quick Setting Epoxy” from Dollar Tree. It works really well, and since it’s at Dollar Tree, it’s obviously affordable. Hope this will help you on your projects!! Debra B.

  5. I actually read a book about lacquer boxes.. that uses paper mache.. they mix lacquer in with the paper mache clay.. I haven’t tried it but wonder.. would that work..

  6. Not sure my comment question came through. I noticed that the sealant went on before painting. Do you use it AFTER painting? If not, what other protection can be used to keep the paint in tact, colorful, etc.?

  7. I’ve been a massive fan and self taught myself using your tips and video’s adjusting the recipe for clay for indoors and outdoors. thanks for your help .

  8. I will give the water proofing a try. Displaying art pieces outdoors has always been our challenge.I like articles that promote the medium we know and love. I have tried some of the other products featured here like Magic- Sculpt a fabulous product but larger work can be pricey due to the product cost . And they can get physically heavy even with aluminum foil armatures . I always seem to go back to paper mache because I can make large pieces that can hang on a wall or even an exterior door for Halloween.Hopefully I won’t need to bring the paper mache sculpture indoors every time it looks like rain is coming.

  9. I will be trying this! People have been asking me to make more “waterproof” sculptures. It will be interesting to see how the rubber sealer works!
    Also, I would try to fill the water bottle with sand or small rocks. You wouldn’t have to wait for it to dry then and would still have a weighted base.

  10. Nice! What final clear spray was used over the paint?

    I heard of a product called Pond Armor that some people use to seal plywood aquariums. If it can work to make an aquarium that holds water in it might work well to seal water out of a paper mache project. But it is expensive.

  11. This seems very worth trying. It would be nice to hear updates on how this holds out over the course of the winter, and how well it lasts over the next couple of year. Would be lovely to make things that could look good for 4-5 years at least!

    • I agree with Sandra, it would be good to know how long it lasts, be sure to update us with your results. Where do you live? Do you think this would work for humid environments? How about the cold? So many variables!
      Thanks for your well thought out tutorial as well.

      • On the product information, it says it is not recommended in extreme cold or heat. That probably excludes my Wisconsin winters? However, I did make a papercrete mushroom that has stood the test of 3 winters outside… So, possibly a cement slurry to coat the sculpture?

        • That might be a good idea. It sounds similar to the way I made my gnome. I live in Minnesota, and he still looks just fine. I know some people have problems with the Flexseal, but I didn’t know why it would work for some people and not others. You may have solved the mystery for us! 🙂


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