Make a Pufferfish with Paper Mache Clay

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This Guineafowl Pufferfish is a lot of fun to make.

He’s really cute, and there are tons of photos online that you can use as models when you’re making your own pufferfish with paper mache clay. I know fish don’t really smile, but these fish look like they’re smiling when they’ve blown themselves into a ball, and it makes them look absolutely adorable.

I found a really interesting article about pufferfish and their toxin, and I’ll put a link to it down below. That page also has the photo of the inflated fish that I used for my model.

What color is a pufferfish?

Guineafowl Pufferfish

The guineafowl pufferfish species comes in both brown and yellow versions, and there are a lot of other species of pufferfish that come in different colors that you might want to make, instead.

I used Burnt Umber for my fish because that’s the color of the fish I used for my model. Other people describe their color as purple-black. Find a photo online that you like, and use the colors of your favorite fish for your model.

And although I poked holes in the second layer, the air dry clay, to make small white spots, you can paint on the spots, instead.

Spikes or No Spikes – It’s Up to You

The Guineafowl Pufferfish doesn’t have long spikes, but some species of puffers do. You can even find some that are called porcupine fish, for the obvious reason.

I didn’t add spikes (except for the tiny ones that I got almost by accident when I added the air dry clay) because the photo I used for my model didn’t show any spikes.

If you prefer a sharper, more dangerous-looking puffer fish, see how I used wooden toothpicks to add sharp spikes to my echidna, click here.

Links mentioned in the video:

If this is your first paper mache project, you might also want to read my new post “how to make paper mache in 5 steps.”

A different kind of fish is one of the first projects in my book Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay

My other sculpting books on amazon.com:

You can find patterns for the wall sculptures and masks behind me in the videos, and many more, here.

If you’d like to know why you might not want to eat a pufferfish, read this article.

If you make a pufferfish…

… I’d love to see it. I know a few thousand other people who would like to see it, too. :)

Click here to share photos of your sculpture.

17 thoughts on “Make a Pufferfish with Paper Mache Clay”

    • Hi Lucy. I didn’t put any paper mache on the fins. Around the 9:25 mark on the video I mention that I sprayed the fish with a spray primer, because acrylic paint won’t stick to foil. The primer worked very well.

  1. So cute! Great project and the puffer fish inspires me to think about sculpting other sea creatures that I see when I have gone snorkeling. Thanks for all your amazing info to help us have success in creating things out of paper clay.

    • Yes, Tracy. A friend of mine is teasing me about doing 70 tropical fish on the wall, along with octopi and crabs, etc. You get the idea. I want to go snorkeling! Haven’t been close to the ocean in many years.

      • Wow that would be something to see. I miss snorkeling too and want to get back to it this summer, hopefully each of us can do that this year. Good luck.


    • I agree! I would never think of sculpting something just so someone could smash it with a baseball bat (but the smashing part does sound like fun. :) )
      I’m glad you’re enjoying the posts.

  3. Jo voldria saber quina classe d’alumini fas servir a les aletes.es fantàstic ho provaré..mil gràcies

  4. What a fun project! I think I may use that one for my grandchildren’s next paper mache project. They have been clamoring to do another sculpture and that may be easy enough to have them do. They won’t do all the detail but the basic shape would be easy enough to do. They are 5 and 7, do you think I could introduce them to one of the clays? Up until now they have only used the paper strips and paste.
    I liked what you did for the base…clever lady! You really do think outside the box!

    • Hi Eileen. I don’t have much experience makign paper mache stuff with kids, so you’d be the expert, not me. Will they have the fine motor skills to spread the paper mache clay thinly? That’s not easy to do. You wouldn’t want to use hot glue, I assume, but if a child is old enough to not eat their art supplies, you could try the paper mache clay.

      For kids, I’d probably skip the pattern and just have them make a ball with crumpled paper and masking tape. The fins could be cut out of cereal box cardboard and taped on before the paper mache is added. It might work to paint the eyes and mouth onto the ball, at least for the younger one.

      If you try this, I hope you’ll take some progress photos and consider writing a guest post for us. Quite a few people have already emailed me to see if their kids could make the puffer, and I really don’t have any way to know. Sadly, this is not a good time for an old lady like me to borrow the neighbor’s kids for a day-long indoor project. Are your grandchildren able to visit you now?

    • Those pesky emojis! WordPress can’t read them, unfortunately, so we get question marks, instead. And thanks! :)
      I made that smiley this way, only without the space : )

  5. I love that pufferfish. Thanks for the tutorial; it was fascinating. They are so darn cute. The fins are really nice. I love the way you go off on these adventures to help us who don’t go outside of the box much!

    That is a prize there. Thank you.


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