Easy Paper Mache: Forming the Sculpture

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It’s messy, it’s fun, it’s paper mache! Here’s an easy way to make paper mache projects that even younger children can do with a little help. You can even make your own paper mache sculpture!

Paper Mache Process

The whole process takes a while, mostly because of drying time in between putting on the layers of paper mache.  The first step, though, is forming the sculpture itself.

 What You’ll Need
  • Newspaper
  • Masking Tape
  • Reference Photo

Make a Plan

Ask your child what he would like to make. It could be something realistic or something more whimsical. An animal would be a fun choice. Then find a reference picture in a book or on the internet.  It’s helpful for your child to have something to look at as he works.

Paper Mache: Forming the Sculpture

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To create the sculpture, all you’ll need is newspaper and masking tape. Ball up the newspaper, shaping it into the form you need.  For most projects, you’ll use several newspaper “shapes”; after they’re completed, you can stick them all together.

For example, if your child is making a cat, he could ball up the newspaper into a sphere for the head. To keep the shape, have him wrap masking tape all around the newspaper. Let him use as much tape as much tape as he needs to hold it together, even if it covers all the newspaper. (Children are often thrilled to know they can use up a whole roll of tape!) Now he has a sphere of newspaper covered in masking tape.

To make the body, form a larger oval with more newspaper. Tape around the oval so it holds its shape.  The legs, tail, and ears are made in a similar way. After making each shape, wrap it securely with masking tape.

Now, using the tape, put all the pieces together. Stick the head, tail and legs to the body. Stick the ears to the head. Add more tape where you need it. You can be generous with the tape; I’ve found that one roll of tape is more than enough for one project.

I’ve had students make all kinds of things out of paper mache! They’ve made ducks, turkeys, owls, cats, dogs, dolphins, mushrooms, flowers, penguins, eagles – even video game characters! What did your child decide to sculpt?

Photos by Samantha Bell

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