Theater Props Made with Paper Mache Clay

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Paper Mache TurkeyI received the following email this week, and I just had to share it with you, including all the photos of a roast Christmas turkey, made with paper mache clay.  It looks good enough to eat, doesn’t it?

Here’s Betsy’s email, which she gave me permission to share with you:

Dear Jonni,

I just wanted to thank you for sharing all your knowledge and recipes at your web site. I sometimes help with props at our local playhouse and needed to make two roast turkeys (one which looked like it had been ravaged by dogs) and a roast duck whose head could be chopped off, for the production of the musical “A Christmas Story” (based on the book about the little boy, Ralphie, who wants a BB gun for Christmas–perhaps you’ve seen it). Paper mache clay to the rescue!

I built armatures out of cardboard and wadded up newspaper, taped the whole thing with masking tape, and applied a thin layer of the paper mache clay. I couldn’t believe how hard it was when it dried (because props sometimes take a beating during fast changes and hurried crew). We’re two shows into our 9-show run and they look perfect.

All our remaining shows (two more weekends) are sold out! However, you are welcome to mention that the props were for Oak Ridge Playhouse, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, if you wish. I guess any mention doesn’t hurt!

Happy Thanksgiving!


Paper Mache Turkey

8 thoughts on “Theater Props Made with Paper Mache Clay”

  1. Greetings, Jonni – Rita, St Thomas, VI here…. I am a part-time (props ) volunteer at the local non-profit theater… I desperately need help making fake turkey(s) for our summer camp production of OLIVER… Your photos are great but I’m a lay person and need more detail vis-à-vis dimensions, etc. Can you help me? Pretty-please??

    • Hi Rita. This was a guest post, and it’s pretty old. The author probably isn’t following comments any more. I’ve never made a fake turkey, but if I did I’d probably get a turkey from the supermarket and use that as a model. (Frozen, of course, so it could go right back in the freezer after I make some fast measurements.)

      I’d use crumpled paper and masking tape, (or crumpled foil and hot glue), to fill out the shapes, and then cover it with a thin layer of the paper mache clay.

  2. Ok, so the armatures were really easy for me, but when I painted it, it looked too purple. Anyone have suggestions on what colors to use, because I’m awful at the painting part.

    • Hi Megan. Could you show us a photo of how it looks now? Maybe if we see it we could have some ideas for you. There is a size limit on the photos, so if you already tried and it didn’t work, you image was probably too big.

  3. Thank you for your post on how to make a fake roast turkey. I just completed my own turkey using the paper mache clay for a Beauty &the Beast theater production, and it turned out beautifully.

  4. Okay Betsy, now that was pretty darn amazing! I agree, it looks good enough to eat. Your theater company is blessed to have you. I have to say, I agree with Christine, you did an excellent job documenting your progress. Thank you for sharing, and thank you Jonni for posting this. Happy Holidays

  5. Hi Betsy, the photos are great you did a very good job in recording the steps you took. The final product really looks like the real thing. No words are needed to see how you accomplished your project. Happy Thanksgiving and good luck on your productions.


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