How to make a papier mâché elephant

elephant image by Kirubeshwaran from

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.

Papier mâché paste

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

Pour the measured ingredients into a plastic bowl.

Mix the glue, water and flour together until smooth.

Elephant armature

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.

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.

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

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

Papier mâché

Cover your work surface with newspaper.

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

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.

Set the elephant aside to dry.

Finishing touches

Paint your elephant with a grey and brown paint mixture.

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

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

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