How to make a paper mache dolphin

dolphin_c image by Sergey Tokarev from

Paper mache is a great family oriented activity, using ingredients and supplies that may already be in the garage or around the house. Kids will get excited about creating an item they can place on their shelf or hang from the ceiling.

They'll also enjoy the process of making a wire frame, tearing strips of newspaper, working with starchy glue and then painting their paper mache dolphin. Encourage them to have fun with this project and remind them that there's no wrong way to apply the strips of paper to the wire mould.

Set up a work space with the plastic sheet stretched over the top of a table or counter. Use masking tape to keep the plastic in place. Place an old towel underneath the plastic to protect the table's surface from the chicken wire. Rip the newspaper into strips 1- to 2-inches wide and 6- to 8-inches long. Put the newspaper strips aside.

Put on the gloves. Cut a piece of chicken wire 12-by-18-inches and tape the edges of the chicken wire together to form a tube 18 inches long. Form the tube with one end wider in diameter than the other to create the main part of the dolphin's body, with the narrower end being the tail. Cut an 8-by-12-inch piece of chicken wire and tape the edges together to form a tube 12 inches long. This will be the dolphin's head. Form the bottle nose by crimping the chicken wire to a small diameter, then allow for widening of the head.

Use masking tape to attach the two finished moulds together. Cut three sheets of chicken wire, 6-by-8 inches, and fold each sheet over to make three tubes 8 inches long. Attach these tubes to the body using tape. They will be the tail and two frontal fins. Mold them into shape by hand. Cut one last sheet of chicken wire, 4-by-7 inches. Fold it over to make the top fin, and attach it to the body. Look over the final mould and add any other necessary details.

Open the paper mache starch and pour 2 cups into a large bowl. Dip one of the paper strips into the paste until saturated. Lightly squeeze away excess paste with your fingers over the bowl. Apply the wet paper onto the dolphin frame. Place the wet layers of newspaper in all directions, overlapping the strips. Allow the newspaper to dry overnight in a warm, well-ventilated area. Repeat by applying a total of three layers over three days, to allow for ample drying time between applications.

dolphin on white image by koi88 from

Use the paintbrush and blue/grey latex paint to add colour to the dolphin. Add a touch of black to the blue paint for shadows under the dolphin's fins and body. Use the black paint for facial features such as the dolphin's eyes and the outline of its mouth. Add a touch of white to the blue paint at the top of the head and elsewhere along the top of the dolphin's body, where it might be touched by sunlight through the water. Allow the paint to dry overnight.