Paper Mache Piggy Bank, and Kune Kune Piglet Video

Looking for great ideas for your next paper mache project or a gift idea? Check out my patterns and videos for masks, animal sculptures and faux trophy mounts.


Project Difficulty Level: Easy to Challenging

Piggy banks can be made with as much detail, or as little, as you like. For that reason, a piggy bank can be a good project for the beginning paper mache sculptor, and just as challenging for the advanced student. To see what I mean, take a look at the piggy banks over at wikipedia.org.

I decided to use a mini pig photo as the starting place for my piggy bank, but I simplified it a lot. And I did very little painting on the final bank, so the project was fairly easy. I was working towards a fake antique look, so the paper and paste show through the final coat.

Total cost: less than $1, since I already had some paint and Verathane on hand.

Paper Mache Piggy Bank Step 1
Paper Mache Piggy Bank Step 1

Step 1:

I start the project with an empty salt container for the body, and four equal-sized scrunched-up paper legs. Some people try to make piggy banks and other simple paper mache projects using balloons for the inner form, but I think balloons are much too difficult to handle. The salt container in this project adds strength to the finished bank, so only a few layers of newsprint and paste are needed. (If you want your bank to be bigger so you can save more coins, you could use an oatmeal box, instead).

Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 2
Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 2

Step 2:

The legs are taped to the bottom of the salt container with plenty of masking tape.

Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 3
Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 3

Step 3:

I make sure the pig can stand up straight without wobbling too much, and then I start to add the padding. Here you can see I added more paper to piggy’s tail end, and I added small bits of paper to the back of her legs so they will have more piggy shape. No animal has absolutely straight legs.

Real pigs actually have very thin and dainty legs, but I don’t think thin paper legs would hold up several pounds of quarters, so I’ve fattened up my piggy’s legs and simplified their shape. I do, however, keep looking at photos of min pigs I found online, even though I know the final piggy bank will not look exactly like a real pig.

Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 4
Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 4

Step 4:

I add more padding to round out the legs and give piggy some elbows and hips. I also add the head. A baby pig’s head is as tall and wide as her body, with a very short neck. I’ll be doing a lot of pushing and prodding and taping to make the inner form the way I want it, before I add the first piece of newsprint and paste.

Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 5
Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 5

Step 5:

I added the snout, ears, and tail. I also taped the feet to a piece of cardboard, which will be removed as soon as the first layer of paper mache has dried and hardened. This step was taken to help make sure the bank will sit level when it’s completed.

Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 6
Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 6

Step 6:

The first layer of newsprint strips have been attached with a simple flour and water paste. Any low spots have been leveled out with extra paper, and piggy is then left to dry out completely before the second layer of paper is added. [This is the only part of this project that I would now do differently. The paper mache clay recipe had not yet been developed when I first posted this tutorial in 2008. I would now do the piggy bank using the recipe, which you can find here. However, that’s just a personal preference. Paper strips and paste work just fine and they do create a really strong piggy.]

Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 7
Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 7

Step 7:

For the second layer I used brown paper, like the type used for brown paper bags. The paper is stiffer than newsprint, so I take care to make sure to use smaller pieces of torn paper, and smooth it down carefully. In this photo most of the second layer has dried, and I’m finishing up around the ears and feet.I also cut a piece of light cardboard to add to the snout to give it more definition. The cardboard will be completely covered with a layer of brown paper.

Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 8
Paper Mache Piggy Bank, Step 8

Step 8:

After the brown paper layer is completely dry, I sand it to smooth off all the rough edges, and use black paint for the random spots and piggy’s eyes. When the paint is dry, I use a wash of white paint, diluted with some latex glaze, to lighten the black spots a bit. I add the glaze a small bit at a time, and then rub most of it off with a paper towel. When the glaze is dry, I add a final coat of water-based verathane. Both the glaze and verathane were left over from other projects, so I didn’t buy anything for this project. (Whenever possible, I buy my “art supplies” at a hardware store. A tiny bottle of varnish from an art store would probably cost more than my quart of verathane. Since I have a limited income, I wouldn’t be able to play around much with art projects if I didn’t count my pennies.) [The mottled brown on the original piggy bank comes from the paper mache paste over the brown paper. I really like the way it looks. If you decide to use paper mache clay instead of paper strips and paste, you won’t be able to make your piggy look exactly like this one – but it would still be very nice. I’d probably give it a wash of very light pink before adding the spots.]

Completed Paper Mache Piggy Bank
Completed Paper Mache Piggy Bank

The finished piggy bank:

Piggy is now ready to start collecting pennies and quarters. This bank will eventually be given to my grandson, but he’s only 18 months old now, so he can’t have the bank yet (he would eat the quarters).

[My grandson is now 5 years old, which shows you how long ago this tutorial was first posted. As soon as I hit the publish button, my computer is going into a box. You won’t be hearing from me again until I’ve arrived in South Dakota and I get the internet service hooked up. See you then!]

22 thoughts on “Paper Mache Piggy Bank, and Kune Kune Piglet Video

  1. Hi Jonni, I love your works, I was browsing thru internet about piggy banks and came across your site , amazing I am like you an artist and loves more of my own creation usually made of used pieces to be reused,like this technique of paper mach̩ sculpturing is really fun and did started this hobby for my son not to be tied up with this high tech games ..nintendo and wii so summer holiday makes sure we can make new things by handmade. Now a days children forget about their creativity with simple material around the house and this is how I was involved back to of my funny creative arts and it became to be one of my favorite pastime. On my webpage I called them Paperissimi. Btw , I made a school money box instead as a project for our parish church program of collecting money for kids in Africa for the intention of building a School for them and this is how my School money box was made for . I would love to be connected with you and if you would allow me to include you on my links on my blog Me & My Art Lobby at http://myartylobby.blogspot.it. thanks and again I love your works Рfliz

    • Hi Liz. Yes, you are more than welcome to add a link to this blog on your web site. Links are good! I hope your piggy bank gets filled with lots of money for the new school.

      • hi Jonni,
        Many thanks and it was my pleasure for your approval to have a link on my site , yes indeed we were able to collect enough funds for the school. Like the wishing well paper mache too. These two projects was indeed successful. I have been looking for other of you projects and really great to learn more techniques … we keep in touch
        Liz

  2. Just wanted to say that this site has been a great find. I’m home with my 2.5 year old and she had a great deal of fun playing in the flour/water mix today. We are now just one more layer of mache and a painting away from a finished piggy bank. It’s the best kindof project for our short afternoons in this otherwise cold, cruel, and grey March. Thank you.

    • I’m glad you’re enjoying the paper mache project, Ryan. It sounds like your weather is as dismal as ours – we had a blizzard a few days ago. I’m glad spring is coming soon.

      Be sure to post a photo of your daughter’s piggy bank when it’s done – I’d love to see it.

      • Dear Jonni- Finally, our little piggy bank is done. After some hand sanding, a couple of coats of paint, and some kinda extra thick glaze on top that the folks at the craft store recommended, I’m posting the pics now. Thanks for the really simple instructions and the wonderful way you encourage this practice. Quinn and I are looking for our next mache project soon. Cheers.

        • Hi Ryan. You’re photos didn’t come through – that usually happens because the file sizes are too big. Please try again – we would love to see your piggy bank.

  3. I Jonie, I am in the process of making a toilet tank shelf. I am making one because the tank top is rounded not flat like normal tops. I cut out the cardboard and double the leg stand pieces. I then torn newsprint into strips and tape them to the body. Would you then use newpaper in glue to add another layer, or make the paper clay and put that on? thanks

        • No, the paper mache won’t stick to the tape, but it will completely enclose the armature so it should still work. PM doesn’t really stick tight to masking tape, either – but it still works just fine.

          You must be taking a short break from your portrait marathon – you’ve been doing some really interesting dogs lately. What an elegant face Wookie has. Inelegant name, though…

          • So, would she put something over the tape before the PM? I wonder if a layer of gesso would take the slick out of it … Hm …

            Yes, short breakS. I have to step back to see what I’m doing. And eat lunch. 😉
            Wookie! Love that guy. What a rescue story, and he is a gorgeous guy.

            • I don’t think she needs to put anything over the PM. Remember, the most common first PM project is putting paper mache over a balloon. Compared to that, her plastic tape should be easy.

  4. Adorable! I know just the person who would be good at making those pig banks. She has a pet pig who lives in her house. We babysat the pig recently, and is she ever a princess! The pig, that is, not our friend. Well, our friend is a princess too. 🙂

  5. Did I miss where it said how to make an opening? How do you put the money in and take it out? I have some ideas but I want to know how you did it.

    • I can’t remember how I made the hole in the top – I assume I just cut it out with a box knife. I don’t put a hole in the bottom for taking out the coins, because that makes it too easy to steal from the piggy bank. (And I had a lot of fun shaking my own piggy bank, back when I was little, to make the coins fall out of the little hole at the top. It was still “stealing” of course, but it seemed to be more fun that way.)

  6. It’s fun to see the evolution of your paper mache techniques this way, Jonni.

    Just wanted to also throw out there that there is a wonderful group rescuing and caring for pigs in Washington. Many of them were former pets that their owners lost interest in when they grew up, or who’s owners just didn’t understand pigs’ needs, as intelligent and long-lived individuals. If you long for a piggy, but know you’re not set up for one, maybe you could vicariously enjoy the pigs at Pigs Peace Sanctuary by tossing them a donation! 🙂 http://www.pigspeace.org/main/index.html

  7. Oh, the Kune Kune piggies are so cute. I love this piggy bank. What a fun trip down memory lane. Yeah, since I’ve discovered your new paper mache/clay recipes I don’t think I’ll go back to “the dip and strip” way of doing paper mache. Fun to read your revised notes on what you did about 5 years ago. Good luck in your move to South Dakota!

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