Make a Paper Mache Mouse

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This little paper mache mouse was easy and fast to make.

My little mouse gave me an excuse to use the “bun foot” that I found in the closet. It’s also a great project for showing you how to use a cardboard pattern inside a really small sculpture.

I think it may be faster to make an armature with a pattern inside, like I did this time, instead of with wire. Try making it this way and let me know what you think. (I used wire armatures inside all the tiny dogs in my tiny dog book, so that method works, too. 🙂 )

Paper mache mouse on wooden block

Step 1 – the pattern:

I drew a little mouse and then copied it so I can have two mice the same size. I printed them on full sheet labels, and stuck them on some cereal box cardboard.

The mouse is made up up fairly simple shapes, so it would be just as easy to draw a mouse right on the cardboard, cut it out, turn it upside down and draw around the outside edges. Then cut out the second mouse and you’ll have your two-part pattern.

Pattern for paper mache mouse

Step 1.2 – the ear:

I only cut out the big ear on the pattern. Now I’m cutting down into the head along the line of the ear to make it a little easier to curve it more naturally. It may actually be easier to cut separat ears and tape them on after the padding has been added to the head, but I wanted to try it this way first.

Cutting the ears for the paper mache mouse

Step 2: the padding:

I’ve been using foil and hot glue for a lot of my recent armatures, but this time I thought I’d use the paper and masking tape instead. With something this small I’m sure the glue gun would burn me with such a small sculpture to work with.

  • Use normal masking tape, not frog tape. I’m just using some of the green stuff that’s left over from painting my living room a couple of years ago.

I crumpled some paper about the thickness of his tummy and chest and taped to the inside of one of the pattern pieces. It needs to taper to a point at the tail and nose.

Adding padding to the paper mache mouse pattern

I put the second pattern piece over the crumpled paper, and taped it on right at the tail. The two pieces look like a V when seen from the bottom.

Then I taped the two tail pieces together to make them stronger. I didn’t want to tear the tail while I worked on the rest of the mouse.

I also taped the nose together so the very tip of both pattern pieces come together.

Any gaps are filled in so the tummy and chest will be reasonably well-rounded. I put more tape all across the padding and pattern pieces, keeping the legs apart. Then I added more crumpled paper to the outside to fill in the rounded curves.

There will slightly more padding within the dotted line areas, where he has his hips and shoulders.

Adding padding to the mouuse
Making sure the mouse stands up
The mouse armature ready for paper mache

Step 3 – the paper mache:

Then I mixed up some raw flour and water paste and tore some paper strips, really narrow strips. I have a video, five tips for applying paper strips and paste, and I’ll put a link to it below.

The last thing I did was to roll up some very thin noodles of paper and paste to put around the edges of the ears. Then I held them on with more strips of paper.

I wanted the tail to curve so I propped up a sculpting tool to hold it in place while the paste dried, and left it over night. It’s really hot right now. so it didn’t take long. There’s only one layer of paper mache on the mouse.

Paper strips and paste added to the mouse

Step 4 – painting the mouse:

When the paper mache was dry I covered it with a coat of acrylic gesso. That seals the paper and covers up the writing and pictures on the newspaper, so you have a nice white ground to work on when painting.

Adding acrylic gesso to the mouse

When that was dry I mixed white, black and burnt sienna acrylic paint to make a soft warm grey, and painted the entire mouse.

I then mixed some white with a small amount of water and painted it over the mouse’s tummy to make it lighter,

Painting the paper mache mouse grey

I added two round black eyes and a black nose, and painted the cheese orange.

Painting eyes and nose on the mouse
Painting the cheese orange

I added two tiny dots of white in the eyes for reflections. Then I knocked over my light stand and the mouse ended up on the floor – but the only damage was some of the black on his nose got rubbed off. I put it back on, and he’s done.

painting a reflection in the mouse's eyes

I will now give him a coat of DecoArt Ultra Matte varnish, but I still haven’t decided if the ‘bun foot’ stand should be left plain or if I should paint it. Let me know in the comment area below. 🙂

21 thoughts on “Make a Paper Mache Mouse”

  1. I saw the roundness of the bunt foot more as a ball of yarn which then could be painted in more vibrant colors or actual yarn applied and entangling the mouse.

    Reply
    • That would be fun! I hope someone tries it. I’m so busy with my tiny little farm that I decided to do it the easy way, and gave the wood a dark stain. It does look better, but your yarn idea would look great. 🙂

      Reply
  2. I vote for a darker base — if you haven’t finished it already! What a cute mouse. I have no problem with the size of the base because the little critters go everywhere. My neighbor has a little metal mouse sitting next to her front door, but now I can make my own and stop being jealous. I love the way the two patterns work.

    Thanks. You are always an inspiration. Many wonderful comments. (Never heard of bun foot, either!)

    Reply
  3. Like you, I think the base is too heavy for the little guy. I think, if you painted the base with a light stain, and then painted different cheeses…Swiss, cheddar, Gouda, etc. around tune curve, it would be adorable. The base would become part of the sculpture.
    I appreciate your enthusiasm and sharing. Your work is beautiful,
    Thank you.

    Reply
  4. So cute, Jonni… Thanks for the mini armature idea!

    Addressing your comment about paper mache clay (as in, you’d have a lot left over!)…this is something I’ve been wanting to mention for awhile….

    For a long time now, I make up several batches of your original paper mache clay using ONLY toilet paper, glue, and joint compound. No flour at all. Stored in airtight plastic containers, this keeps for months without getting hard or going moldy. Depending on my project then, I use it that way or if I want flour in it, I just put a bunch of clay on a plastic dish (as a palette), then sprinkle on some flour and mix it in with a palette knife to the consistency I want.

    I’ve found this really a great solution for me…..
    I can make a lot of batches at once (messing up the kitchen one time only with lots of batches made!), and I’ve never had any clay go bad. So whenever I need it….it’s ready to go!

    I wish I could do that with the Silky Smooth clay, which is what I like to use on very small or detailed work, but no solutions yet on that front. However, one batch of that goes a long way for me. Storing it in the refrigerator, it has kept well for several weeks.

    Thanks, as always, for this wonderful inspirational site!! I really appreciate your time and dedication!

    Reply
  5. I love love everything you do and loved the mouse video so much! It was like you were right here in my dining room sharing a demonstration. Love the bun foot even unfinished! It might also look great in a rich red burgundy with a little sign “ mouse treats” ??

    Reply
  6. ??love your little mouse!
    As for the Bun Foot, yes, I think darker would be a nice contrast for the lighter color mouse ?

    Reply
  7. Bun foot, bun foot…I kept reading it ‘bum foot’ and I couldn’t find where in the text you said anything about the mouse having a ‘bum foot’, I thought maybe in the fall??? but you said only the black of the nose got any damage…my goodness, I had a challenge today!

    I had never heard of a ‘bun foot’, so didn’t have a reference…I’ve increased my knowledge today, in more than one way! Thank you, Jonni, Blessings!

    Reply
  8. I like the comment above about using a cotton reel for him to sit on. Conjures up memories of “The Tailor of Gloucester”.
    I think your base would be better darker.

    Reply
  9. Definitely a darker base….it would show off your little guy much better. Interesting way to make an armature which will be stored into my memory bank. When doing something that small, I usually sculpt with a solid lump of tin foil, I agree about using a glue gun on something that small. I would also use wire for the tail because it wouldn’t take much to break that tail. He is a cute project. I’m glad Jessie seems to be doing well, it’s a tough time for artists right now.

    Reply

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