How to Make an Alligator out of Paper Mache

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Keep a picture of an alligator on hand for reference.
Keep a picture of an alligator on hand for reference. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Paper mache is one of the first crafts youngsters learn, though the projects may be very rudimentary. As children grow older and more ambitious in their creative pursuits, they may wonder how to make paper mache models of more complex figures like animals. You can indulge that creativity with some basic crafting supplies and make an alligator out of paper mache over a weekend.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • Chicken wire (optional)
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Extruded polystyrene foam balls (optional)
  • Tooth picks or golf tees
  • Clove oil (optional)
  • Paint
  • Heavy poster board
  • Spray sealant

Assemble the frame of the alligator. The frame can be made from rolled or folded newspapers that have been shaped and then taped to secure. The frame can also be made out of formed chicken wire. If you choose to have open jaws, you will need to build that into your form. You can support the upper jaw with sticks or paint stirs covered in newspaper. Crumple up two balls of newspapers for the eyes, or glue extruded polystyrene foam balls to the top of the head.

Tear newspaper strips about 2 inches wide.

Mix your paper mache according to package directions. You want the mixture to be the consistency liquid soap.

Dip the newspaper strips into the paper mache and use two fingers, one along each side of the strip, as a squeegee to remove excess paper mache. Lay the strip across the alligator form.

Continue to cover the alligator frame with paper mache strips until you are satisfied with the finished result. Use toothpicks or golf tees to prop up the upper jaw to avoid it sticking to the bottom and drying shut. Allow the paper mache to dry thoroughly between layers. Allow the finished project to dry overnight.

Paint the alligator using green craft paint for the body, red for the mouth interior and white and black for the eyes.

Cut small triangles out of heavy poster board and glue them on to the sides of the mouth for the teeth.

Spray your finished project with a spray sealant for protection.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cover your work surface with newspapers or plastic table cover to protect the surface.
  • Add a few drops of clove oil to prevent the project from rotting.
  • Dry in cooler air if possible to avoid warping.

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