How to Make a Life-Size Paper Mache Figure

Written by rebecca nardis
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It's time to enhance the holiday decorations, get ready for a birthday party or some celebratory event. You're in charge of decorating and want to create something out of the ordinary. Why bother with strings of holiday lights, garlands or a pinata? Those items are ordinary and easily purchased. Create something with your own two hands that's sure to wow the crowd! Paper mache is a craft project with endless possibilities, ranging from the creation of tiny insects to building life-size figures.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Flour
  • Water
  • Craft glue
  • Paint
  • Chicken wire
  • Wire cutters
  • Newspaper
  • Water-based craft sealer (optional)

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  1. 1

    Obtain a picture or model of the person, animal or item you wish to duplicate with paper mache. Manipulate the chicken wire into the shape you desire. Fold sharp ends toward the inside. Use twisted or crumpled paper covered with a layer of masking tape or blue painter's tape to allow for more flexibility when creating legs, arms and other aspects.

  2. 2

    Mix your paper mache. Combine flour and water to a consistency slightly thicker than waffle or pancake mix. Ensure that the mix contains no lumps. Rip or cut the newspaper into strips. Immerse each strip into the mix. Pass each strip through your index and middle finger to remove any excess. Paste each strip over the chicken wire, covering the figure's entire surface. Allow at least 24 hours or more for the figure to dry, depending on its size.

  3. 3

    Apply paint to the figure after it is completely dry. Apply enough layers of paint to cover the newsprint. Allow the figure to dry for at least 24 hours in between paint coats and another 24 hours before applying any additional items with craft glue. Apply a coat of water-based craft sealer to not only seal the paper mache, but also add a glosy finish.

Tips and warnings

  • When creating a life-size figure, it's important to have the true-to-life dimensions in mind.
  • Making a life-size figure requires a significant amount of mix, so it's best to make several batches. A single, very large container of paper mache paste could thicken too much and become useless.
  • Place the figure in the sun, near a heat register or use a hair dryer set on medium to expedite the drying process.
  • If you are making a life-size figure of a human being, you could dress the figure in real clothes and use yarn for hair.
  • Do not attempt to paint the figure until it is completely dry.

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