How to Make a Paper Mache Piggy Bank

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

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. Photos of the project after the jump.

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 the photo of the mini pig that 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.

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.)

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).

59 thoughts on “How to Make a Paper Mache Piggy Bank”

  1. That´s a cute little piggy! But I have to ask – how do you get the coins out of it´s stomach? I will never be able to destroy this sweetie… I Hope for your advice!

  2. I have a problem with your instructions you didn’t even give the proper instructions because you just went doing your own thing like we knew how to do it but honestly we don’t because we are learning so next time could you please be more specific.

    • Vannesa,
      The person was nice enough to post a free tutorial. I think it is wrong of you to assume that you are entitled to more of an explanation. The person who wrote the instructions for this pig doesn’t owe you anything.

      • Actually, we highly encourage people to ask questions about any post on the site. Unfortunately, Vannesa’s question wasn’t really clear enough for an answer, but if she wants to try again, we’d be happy to help her out.

  3. Hi Jonni- I wonder if you might have an idea to help me out… I want to make an elephant as a card box for my wedding reception, so instead of having a small slot for coins it will have a larger one for cards (with a larger box as it’s hollow belly), but I’m at a loss as to how we will get the cards out after the wedding… Any ideas? Do we just shake them out? Do I make some larger removable panel in some hidden way?
    Thanks! Laura

    • Hi Laura. I think you’d need to make a door of some kind. Otherwise, you’ll have one card that absolutely refuses to be shaken out, and you’ll have to take the hatchet to your elephant. Is there a hidden spot, maybe where it sits on the table, where you could leave it open without it being obvious?

  4. I love your paper-mache projects! I’m a newspaper deliverer and haven’t known what to do with all of my extra papers. I have more than a hundred left over every week. I definitely think I’m going to try some of your projects. Thanks for posting this. I love your pigs and your elephants. I’m emptying out a salt container as I type!

  5. This Piggy Bank is extremely cute! If anyone were to want to do one with a body shape that is harder to find (I have done a snake) i have a great and fairly cheap suggestion. All i did was get a ballon ( you can get the round kind for bigger projects, but i used one of the skinny ones clowns make shapes out of) and squeezed it into the shape that i liked. I then covered it in 7 to8 layers of paper mache (althogh how many layers is up to you. i like to go thick). When it was dry, all i did was cut a slit where the coins would go in. in when you do this, it pops the ballon and it shrivls up and peels away from the paper mache, and you can then pull it out the cut you have made. from there, you just use the directions Jonni gave you for adding limbs and paint it, and then your done! good luck and have fun!

  6. This is so cute !
    My aunt loves pigs, and I love making things so I want to give it a try. I just have a question, how did you get the color like that?
    You probably said in the tutorial, I just did not pick it up.

  7. Hi! Love ur site!
    Quick Question: Can I use whole wheat flour? What are the disadvantages if I do?
    I’m making a Elephant piggy bank!

    • Hi Heather. No, you can’t make paper mache paste out of whole wheat flour, because it doesn’t stick the way white flour does. White flour is pure starch – all the other stuff, like the germ and bran and nutrients, are removed to make white flour. That isn’t good news from a healthy diet point of view, but white flour does make great paste. Whole wheat flour just doesn’t have the same properties, and your wonderful elephant bank won’t be strong enough. Sorry – you need to make a trip to your local store, I guess.

  8. Your work is amazing! My family has an antique chalk piggy bank that belonged to one of my great-grandmothers, and it reminds me a lot of your bank. I would like to replicate my heirloom pig, but am wondering, just how do you attach the ears? Would also like to know how you securely attached the ears to Elsie, your wonderful elephant? That is a project I would also like to do when I am experienced enough. I think that would be the perfect face to peak out from among the elephant ears in my garden next summer! Thanks for your wonderful inspirations!

  9. I love it! And I want to try! I’ve been making the grandchildren pinatas for several years now….but it’s always so heart breaking to see them busted and thrown away! Now maybe I can try something they can keep!

  10. How cute!!! I love it! Smart idea! 🙂

    Just a thought – I don’t think 18 months is too young for a piggy bank and this is why: If you teach them young to put coins in the piggy bank and you make a big deal out of it, when they find them, they want to put them in the bank instead of their mouths. This is how it worked out with my daughter and she has quite a bit of money in her bank and hasn’t put a coin in her mouth. 🙂

  11. Hello, I am getting ready to make my first ever paper mache project. I did a lot of reading and I am not sure what recipe to use. I hear that flour paper mache projects will not last and may mold unless they are varnished. Should I use a glue and water recipe instead? Please help before I begin…thanks

    • Paper mache made with flour and water will last for many years if you keep it dry. That’s the trick for keeping the mold out. One very good way to keep it dry is by adding varnish, although acrylic paint also provides some protection. I like to use a matte acrylic varnish on my sculptures, and I have also used water-based Verathane.

      Have fun with your new project.

    • I mix in 1 tablespoon of salt with the water (warm) before I mix in the flour to act as a preservative . When I run out of / or can’t afford Mod Podge, I use Elmer’s glue and water, it dries clear and acts as a sealer as soon as your project is dry, I like the glossy look on many of my pig’s dolls. etc. etc. so I spray it with premium clear gloss enamel. I hope some or all of this was helpful. Happy Crafting and thank you Jonni.

  12. hahaha good job i’ll make ds one for my project at science XD first year high school sucks but (there is a but*) u do not suck you rule men i love you hahaha

  13. WOW- I love the piggy! I lead a Brownie troop and was just looking for ideas for our “Building Art” badge – I think this idea may be just perfect! With a little help the 8-9 y/o girls could build something beautiful and recycled too! In between our weekly meetings should give it plenty of time to dry between layers. Thanks!!!

  14. Wow, I like this variation on the balloon piggy bank. And the piggy looks very real! I wish I had more time so I could make my own! 🙂

  15. Hi,
    I am so impressed with this bank and have some ideas to make one for my son…but you didn’t mention in the directions where you put the coin slot or the ‘plug’ (if there is one)…Thanks for the amazing work.

    • I did cut a slot into the back of my pig. I didn’t add a hole for a plug just because I remember how much fun it was trying to jiggle and shake my own piggy bank, way back in the day, when I wanted to retrieve a quarter. However, cutting a hole in the tummy and plugging it with something slightly larger than the largest coin would make sense. Let us know how you decide to do it.

      • Last year i made a lady bug bank for my sister and i made a little thing in mine (can’t think of the name) but i cut a hole in the bank but left just a little bit of paper mache that wasn’t cut on either end. the one end i left attatched to the bank, the other end i turned into a tab. since it would be pulled in and stuff, i reinforced that particular area with duct tape and affew more paper mache layers. i’m not sure how it would work using Jonni’s method, though. i used my balloon method (mentioned way down the list)

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