My Paper Mache Book Project, Suggestions Please…

This morning I received a comment from a reader who has been searching for a pattern she could use to make a monkey or gorilla in paper mache, like the patterns I’ve been creating for the elephant, panda, and others here on this blog. Unfortunately, I haven’t made the pattern she’s looking for yet, and as far as I know, this is the only place where you can find them. I may be wrong, but I believe I invented the idea of using patterns for papier mache sculptures.

For months now I’ve been intending to write a book that includes some of the patterns I’ve already created, with updated instructions using the less-messy paper mache clay instead of laminated paper and paste. I would also include many new patterns, along with instructions that show you exactly how to make a pattern of your own, using a photo for a reference. I’ll even show you how to find photos you can use without violating anyone’s copyright.

Now that winter is setting in, and I don’t have any other pressing projects to do, it’s a perfect time to get started on that book. Your suggestions would be very welcome:

  • What animals should I develop patterns for?
  • What specific problems do you encounter with papier mache sculptures that you would like help with?
  • Would you like to explore subjects other than critters?
  • Is “paper mache clay” a good name for the recipe I’m using now? (I think “paper clay” is taken).
  • And anything else you can think of…

I hope to get started just as soon as I get home from a short trip, so please keep your suggestions coming. I may be a little slow approving comments since I’ll be spending some time on a bus, (this country really needs a competitor for Greyhound), but your comments will show up as soon as I can get to an Internet connection.

Thanks for your help – and thanks for all the nice comments this blog has received in the past year. It’s so much fun to hear from you.

13 thoughts on “My Paper Mache Book Project, Suggestions Please…”

  1. My 3rd grader is doing an animal project on the Manatee. She is a very crafty hands on kid who loves to do things like this, if you could make a quick easy basic Manatee that she could look at to get an idea of how it would be done she would really love that.

    Thank you,


    • Hi Jessa. I have several projects in the works at the moment, but the manatee sculpture does sound like a lot of fun. I’m actually thinking about starting another blog specifically for endangered animals, and the manatee would fit right in. However, it will be several months before I have time for such a large project.

  2. I would love to learn how to make larger sized projects, bigger than human size. If not in your book, do you have any to recommend?

    • I won’t be putting large sculptures in my book, but I do recommend that you check out Dan Reeder’s book (there’s a link in the sidebar). The monster-man’s armatures are fairly easy to make, and can be used for anything–they don’t have to be monsters.

      Monique Robert’s book would be best if you want to make big things that must be light enough to hang from the ceiling or on the wall. She doesn’t show you step-by-step instructions for making an actual sculpture, but she shows you how to build the insides of a sculpture you design so it’s strong and light. However, for someone just starting out, I’d go with Dan’s wire armatures. That’s what I used to make the big cats like the bobcat and the lion cubs. They aren’t as big as the sculptures you have in mind, but Dan’s techniques would work at any size.

    • No, we don’t have any bus company that would deserve the name “Premier.” We have Greyhound, and another company owned by Greyhound called Trailways. They don’t expect anyone to use their services unless they can’t find any other way to get there. My recent ride, scheduled to take 5 hours, took 18 hours. You can see why I’m not happy with our transportation system here in the northwest US.

  3. Hi, I love your idea for a book, I will be one of the first to buy it. I love your animals but how about some stylized critters too, you know more animated less real. Also fantasy critters would be great and as I live in a caravan I need some smaller works. Gee thats all I want, not too much I hope. lol lol. I am sure whatever you come up with will be great, can’t wait for it.
    Lesley. PS Try Premier coach lines, they are cheaper and I found them to be great here in Qld.

  4. Love your website and thank you for all the great patterns, ideas, information and encouragement you have provided. This site truly is a treasure!!

    I would love to see a pattern for a santa/gnome. I am attempting to create one (as my first project, no less) that is three – four foot tall.
    I have used the large tubes, left over from our company’s paper rolls, for legs and cut to size. Added beer bottles to the tubes for weight for the legs. Used a trash bag filled with crushed newspaper for the belly – but still trying to work out a head and beard idea. I guess will be trying your paper clay recipe. I have store-bought “paper clay” (just add water) and have been very disappointed by how it performs. It is just too hard to work with. I am hoping your clay recipe will be better.
    I am not sure I am doing it right – my santa is at the stage where he is wrapped in masking tape, but the whole sculpture is soft, squishable, and lumpy. I am not sure what will happen when I start covering in paper mache. Will it get better? I guess I’ll find out this weekend. I’ll take pictures as I get to the next stage.
    Thank you for all you help… and good luck with your book! I know it will be great!

    • Hi Bonnie. Once the paper clay dries, it will be hard, even if the underlying form is soft. But if there isn’t much support behind it, you might want to put on two fairly thin coats, just to make sure it’s strong enough.

      Are you intending to put it outside? We definitely want to see the finished result – and any photos you might have taken along the way.


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