How to Make an African Shekere From Paper Mache

Written by mackenzie wright
  • Share
  • Tweet
  • Share
  • Pin
  • Email
How to Make an African Shekere From Paper Mache
Glass and wood beads on a paper mache gourd can produce pleasant musical sounds. (beads image by Ralph Petty from

Musical instruments can be both fun and educational. If you look far into the past to primitive man, you'll find he made instruments out of materials he had available to him. Anything that makes a sound can suffice as an instrument. One instrument that is easy to make with products you probably already have around the house is an African shekere. Traditionally made out of dried gourds and covered with netting and seashells, which rap and scrape on the gourd when shaken. If you don't have any gourds, you can make a paper mache shekere.

Skill level:

Other People Are Reading

Things you need

  • Plastic table cloth
  • 12-inch latex round balloon
  • Newspaper
  • Wallpaper paste
  • Aluminium foil pie plate
  • Brown paper
  • Acrylic paints
  • Paint brush
  • Clear acrylic sealer
  • 8 pieces of twine, 3 foot long each
  • Masking or painter's tape
  • Beads
  • Paper clips or spring-loaded clips, such as hair clips

Show MoreHide


  1. 1

    Cover your workspace with an inexpensive plastic table cloth. Blow up a balloon to the desired size and tie it. Cut newspapers into long, narrow strips.

  2. 2

    Pour ready-made wallpaper paste into a flat disposable dish, such as an aluminium foil pie tin. Dip a newspaper strip into the paste and slide off any excess with your fingers. Lay it on the balloon. Cover the balloon with a single layer of strips, slightly overlapping around the newspaper edges. Go around the nozzle and knot, leaving them exposed. Allow the paste to dry for several hours.

  3. 3

    Cover the balloon with a second layer of newspaper strips; let dry for several hours. Cover the balloon with a third layer. Let it dry overnight.

  4. 4

    Tear brown paper, such as butcher paper or grocery bags, into roughly-shaped square shapes, approximately 1 to 2 inches wide. Cover the newspaper with a final layer of brown paper. Allow it to dry a day or two.

  5. 5

    Pop the balloon by sticking a pin through it just below the knot in the nozzle. The air will escape and it will slowly shrivel up inside the paper mache casing. You can remove the balloon by pulling it through the small hole left around the nozzle, or just leave it inside the casing.

  6. 6

    Paint the paper mache gourd if desired. Decorate it with images and symbols that appeal to you. Spray it with a clear acrylic sealer in a well-ventilated, well-covered area. Allow it to dry and then spray a second coating of sealer.

  1. 1

    Hold eight strips of 3-foot long twine together so the strands are even. Tie all of them together in a knot at one end so that the eight strands radiate out from the knot.

  2. 2

    Set your paper mache gourd shell on top of a coffee can or bowl, with the narrowest end facing up. Hold the knot on top and arrange the strands so they cascade down the sides of the gourd.

  3. 3

    Divide the strands into groups of two, so that you have four groups. Temporarily tape each group to the gourd, securing them just below the knot.

  4. 4

    Thread a bead onto each pair of strands, to about an inch below the big knot. Use a hair clip or paper clip just below the bead to hold it temporarily.

  5. 5

    Split up the pairs of strands and partner them again with the strand on its opposite side. For example, if a strand was paired with the one on its left, pair it now with the one on its right side. Slide a bead on each of the new strand pairs. Move the clips below the newly placed beads.

  6. 6

    Divide the pairs of strands again back to their original partner. Slide on a new round of beads, making sure they are spaced evenly around the gourd. Put the clips below the newly placed beads and continue this method until you have covered the entire gourd.

  7. 7

    Tie the twine at the end, leaving enough slack so the netting and the beads hang loosely on the paper mache gourd. Braid the remaining length of twine, if desired, adding sporadic beads for decoration.

Tips and warnings

  • Use beads with large holes so it will be easy to thread the twine through. The beads will also move around freely when shaken.

Don't Miss

  • All types
  • Articles
  • Slideshows
  • Videos
  • Most relevant
  • Most popular
  • Most recent

No articles available

No slideshows available

No videos available

By using the site, you consent to the use of cookies. For more information, please see our Cookie policy.