My Next Paper Mache Project – What Should It Be?

I’m waiting for the second-to-last layer of paper mache to dry on my big baby elephant so I can attach the ears and add the final “skin” of paper towels. (Paper towels looked very skin-like on my other hairless animal, the flying pig.) While I wait I’m trying to decide what I should work on next, and I’m hoping you, my readers, will offer your opinions.

There are two projects I’m considering right now – one of them would take a long time to finish, while the other one could be done in a day or two. And I’m sure there are many projects I haven’t thought of yet, so feel free to chime in, even if your idea has nothing to do with the two things listed below. After all, that’s how we ended up with several of the more popular paper mache tutorials on this blog.

Idea #1: A paper mache didgeridoo. Several months ago I got it into my head that I needed a didgeridoo. In fact,  I actually made one. My original method was very time-consuming and somewhat difficult, but the shape was very organic and interesting. However, the sound was horrible and blowing on it made me dizzy.

I then did what I should have done before starting the project, and found out how to make a didgeridoo that actually sounds the way it’s supposed to. I don’t promise it will sound like this, but at least it shouldn’t sound like a farting elephant, like my first try.

So, does anyone out there have a burning need for a hand-made, hand-decorated didgeridoo of their very own? If not, I won’t bother, but if anyone thinks it would be fun, let me know. As I discovered a bit too late to save my first attempt, making one that actually works is easy, and only costs a few dollars.

Idea 2: This is the long-term project. I’ve been thinking about creating a book about weird and wonderful animals. Not made-up animals, like dragons, but real ones, like echidnas and other critters that astound us by their refusal to follow  the “rules”of proper animal design.

The book would be illustrated by photos of paper mache sculptures, and include interesting facts and stories about the animals. It would not be a book to show people how to make the sculptures, although it might be fun to add links to this site if anyone thinks they would like to make their own.

The purpose of the book, for me, would be to give me an opportunity to celebrate the wonderful variety of life forms that nature has blessed us with, and I hope that readers would learn a thing or two, as well.

Do you have a favorite weird animal that you think I should include in the book? If so, let me know in your comments below. Who knows – your favorite creature could end up in the book.

OK – now back to my elephant.

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17 thoughts on “My Next Paper Mache Project – What Should It Be?

  1. Hello! I know that uyou probably posted this up a long time ago but i hav been looking on the web like crazy for a “how to” on makin huge sculptures of tombs or things of that sort. I want to make a tall sculpture of stone tanlets with the ten commandments. For now i guess ill stick to my cardboard and paint idea hahaha. But i wish that i can make it so much more dramatic. Write me back to my email if you can! Thank you!

    • Hi Rocio. I’ve never done anything like you describe, but if I did, I’d probably use cardboard, masking tape, and the paper mache clay. If you do make your sculpture, please let us know how it turned out (and how you did it). That way, we can all learn from you.

  2. Hello,

    Love the site!! My husband and I are decorating my daughter’s room in a Mermaid theme, I guess it’s also under the sea because we have added some other under the sea creatures. I used a room on hgtv.com as inspiration. It is for the green house, I loved it. Our decorations for her room are all green, which we weren’t trying to do. We just thought we could save money and have a lot of fun making all her decorations ourselves. The hgtv room has a paper mache bird that sits son the window sill, I love the idea. They tell you where to buy it and it is listed as $45 for this little bird! So, needless to say we decided to make our own! Have you made a little bird before? I would love some idea or tips!

    My vote for the next animal would be:

    pelican crab, lobster, starfish, sand dollar, seahorse, or octopus! Thanks!

    Julia

    • $45 for a little paper mache bird? Wow. You can definitely make one yourself. You can make a whole herd of them for $45. You can find the tutorial for a paper mache bluebird here. I used the same process, but added a little more detail, for the bird sitting on Dionysus’ shoulder.

      Your daughter must be excited about having such a unique room decor. Do you have any photos you could share? And yes, I’ve thought about doing a pelican. A lobster would be hard – just because they’re such weird creatures. But a sand dollar would be a snap. maybe when I’m done with all my cat sculptures I’ll tackle one of these ideas. Thanks for the suggestions.

  3. Ok I have to vote for the bat an upside down one that could hand off something!!! its a great halloween project too and I would totally make it if you put up the steps!!

    How about a bulldog 🙂 I can see you doing that one very well.

  4. Hi, I love your art. I have done some in the past, but not for many years. I want to make a giraffe for my granddaughter, can you make one and show me how? Would love to see it.
    Thanks for your great ideas.

  5. Here is my 2 cents ( or at least 1 and a half cents Canadian) I think I would go with the didgeridoo. More apealing to me at any rate. I spent a few weeks downunder, and loved the look and sound.

    I have made a few PM items and would try a didgeridoo.
    Enjoy your blog!

    • Thanks Delane. A didgeridoo it is. Our version won’t be as wonderful as the real ones that are hand-carved in Australia by people who actually know what they’re doing, but they should be fun, anyway. Stay tuned.

  6. Jonni! I swear, you’re a woman after my own heart! I have a book that has followed me through the years since my childhood, and informed my undying interest in (mostly) mammals. The echidna was always one of my faves. What about a mara, or a tapir, or a naked bat, or perhaps – wait, let me get my book (The Mammals, by Desmond Morris)- Ah, it even still has a list of my chosen odd critters in it, in the printing of my early teens!
    kinkajou
    coati
    sloth bear
    aye aye
    springhaas
    European souslik
    babirusa
    quagga (recently extinct)
    aardwolf
    orange rumped agouti

    The list goes on for three columns! 🙂

    But, instead of JUST a book, I suggest you do a show, with all the sculptures you do for the book, at which you can sell the book. Then, travel up here to northern Washington with it, so I can see them all! After all, if you have enough sculptures for a book, where will you keep them all? You should definitely give them a chance to be sold into appreciative homes. 😀

    • Small world – my dad and his wife live in your neck of the woods, up in B’ham. And Desmond Morris was one of my favorite authors back when I was young. I just checked Amazon.com and I was flummoxed by how many of his books I haven’t read. I ordered a used copy of your book, and my house may soon be filled with all those critters whose names I can’t begin to pronounce. Maybe when the collection is done, I’ll have saved up enough gas money to come visit my parents – and perhaps show off the critters while I’m there.

      • I did the same thing yesterday (looked up DM’s bibliography) with the same reaction! I almost ordered one, but cheaped out at the last second.

        If you get as far as B’ham, I’d love to meet you. I’m only about 15 minutes up the road. Maybe my greyhounds could be inspiration for yet another engineering + paper mache feat, with their long, skinny legs and tails.

        I’m still wrapping my head around the idea of a paper mache didgeridoo!

  7. Oh dear lawd…but you made me laugh with your didgeridoo comment on how it’s supposed to sound. My husband has a didgeridoo, and trust me, he sounds nothing like the guy in the video!!! He sounds more like some poor constipated creature! Anyway…my paper mache suggestion…a pink flamingo! Thanks for making my day!

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