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How to make a papier mâché elephant

Papier mâché dates back to China's Han Dynasty from 202BC to AD220. Once used to make pot lids, modern papier mâché artisans create anything from decorative sculptures to carnival masks and more. Adults and children alike can use papier mâché to make a unique elephant sculpture. Mix your own paper paste or buy a ready-made art paste product for an imaginative animal project.

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Papier mâché paste

  1. Measure 355.5 ml (1 1/2 cups) water, 125 g (1 cup) flour and 58 ml (1/4 cup) school glue.

  2. Pour the measured ingredients into a plastic bowl.

  3. Mix the glue, water and flour together until smooth.

Elephant armature

  1. Blow up two balloons, one to full size and the other to half size. The large balloon will be the elephant's body and the smaller one will be the head. Tape the head balloon onto the top side of the body balloon.

  2. Cut cardboard tubes into four equal sections, each approximately 10 cm (4 inches) long. These will be the elephant's legs. Tape the cardboard-tube legs to the underside of the body balloon with two on each side.

  3. Cut a small paper plate in half. Tape each half onto each side of the balloon head as ears.

  4. Cut a plastic straw in half. Tape it to the front of the head balloon as the elephant's trunk.

Papier mâché

  1. Cover your work surface with newspaper.

  2. Cut 5 cm by 25 cm (2 inch by 10 inch) strips of construction paper.

  3. Dip the paper strips into the papier mâché paste. Squeeze off the excess paste. Cover the elephant armature, one strip at a time. Wrap the pasted paper strips around the balloons' circumference, around the cardboard tubes, around the straw and around the paper-plate ears.

  4. Set the elephant aside to dry.

Finishing touches

  1. Paint your elephant with a grey and brown paint mixture.

  2. Paint eyes onto the face with a fine or small brush.

  3. Cut a white pipe cleaner in half as tusks. Poke one end of each tusk through the face on either side of the trunk.

  4. Tip

    Create your own unique paint colour by mixing brown, white, yellow or any other colours together. If you don't have time to make your own paste, purchase a mixture at an arts or crafts shop.


    Always buy nontoxic art materials. If you are working with children, make sure the materials are age-graded for your child's specific age.

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Things You'll Need

  • 125 g (1 cup) flour
  • 355.5 ml (1 1/2 cups) water
  • 58 ml (1/4 cup) school glue
  • Plastic bowl
  • Construction paper
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Balloons
  • Straw
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard tubes
  • Paper plate
  • Masking tape
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Newspaper

About the Author

Erica Loop

Based in Pittsburgh, Erica Loop has been writing education, child development and parenting articles since 2009. Her articles have appeared in "Pittsburgh Parent Magazine" and the website PBS Parents. She has a Master of Science in applied developmental psychology from the University of Pittsburgh's School of Education.

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