How to paper mache the human figure

Getty Creative

Papier mache is an inexpensive, versatile technique that can transform old paper into solid, hollow modelling material. Some choices of mould, such as a human body, don't work as conveniently with the long drying times required by papier mache. However, with a few other household materials, you can still create a mould of any human form while taking up only a few minutes of a model's time.

Wrap the model in aluminium foil and duct tape. Shape the foil firmly around her body to make an impression of it, but avoid letting the foil bunch up, as this will distort the shape. Coat the foil with enough duct tape to hold it in place. Tape the foil to itself, rather than the model's body.

Cut the aluminium foil from the model's body using the safety scissors. Make two cuts down the sides of the model's body. Gently pull the foil away from the body as you do so. Take care to keep the shape of the body impression intact. Instruct the model to step slowly out of the aluminium foil once you've cut the sides. (At this point, you can dismiss the model, though you may want to keep her around in case any of the moulded foil loses its shape.)

Finish cutting the aluminium foil frame into two equal, front-and-back pieces. Cut a line through the portion of foil that was between the model's feet and legs. Lay the two pieces flat on the ground, moulded sides up.

Treat the aluminium foil moulds with a coat of light papier mache consisting of toilet paper soaked in watery wheat paste. Lay the strips gently over the mould. This will firm up the mould in preparation for the weight of the other layers of paper. Leave it to air-dry until hard and dry to the touch (about four to six hours, or speed it up with area fans).

Tear the newspaper into small scraps, measuring about 2.5 by 10 cm (1 by 4 inches).

Cover the aluminium foil frame with a first coat of paste-soaked newspaper strips. Let this dry overnight, or until hard. Don't add any additional layers of paper yet, as they could still weigh down the shape of the mould.

Add additional layers of newspaper and paste. Apply two or three layers at a time and let them dry before adding the next few layers. Complete about seven or eight layers total.

Tape the two sides of the mould together. Add another two or three layers of papier mache around the area of the joint to make a single, solid piece.

Most recent