How to Make a 3-D Abstract Project

The wonderful thing about a three-dimensional (3-D) abstract project is you can literally make anything you want. There are no rules, guidelines or parameters you need to abide. In fact, it’s a visual expression of what comes into your head. You don’t need any formal training to make a 3-D abstract project, just a strong imagination, so you can turn your thoughts into something tangible that can be seen and admired.

Things You'll Need

  • Wooden board (about 12 inches by 12 inches by 1 inch)
  • 2 or 3 newspapers
  • Bucket
  • Packet of powdered glue
  • Watercolor paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Clear varnish


    • 1

      Use a pen and paper to draw a rough outline of the abstract 3-D item you want to make. It can be anything you want; maybe you want to copy an abstract painting you’ve seen, but turn it into a 3-D model. It helps to put your thoughts on paper and then you can develop them further during the project.

    • 2

      Put a 12-inch by 12-inch by 1-inch wooden board on a work surface; although you can use any size board you want. You will use the board as the base to make your 3-D abstract model.

    • 3

      Tear sheets from two or three newspapers into 1-inch-wide strips about 6 inches long using your fingers. Put the strips into a bucket. The paper strips will be made into papier mache for your 3-D abstract project.

    • 4

      Add warm water to the bucket to soften the paper and make it mushy. You need enough water so the paper absorbs it all. If you added too much water, then tear a few more strips of paper. If you move the paper to one side of the bucket and see a pool of water you need to add more paper.

    • 5

      Empty the contents of a packet of powdered glue into the bucket. Mix it around with the paper using your hands.

    • 6

      Add more warm water to the bucket gradually. Keep mixing the contents using your hands. The texture will turn slimy and sticky and the paper will break up into small pieces. Keep adding small amounts of water until the mixture is similar to thick cement.

    • 7

      Test the consistency by picking up a handful and squeezing it into a ball. It stays in the shape of the ball when you stop squeezing it, the mixture is correct. If it’s too dry, then the ball will break up when you put a finger into it, so add a little more water to the bucket and mix. If water oozes from the ball when you squeeze it, you need to add more paper.

    • 8

      Place the bucket next to the board and start to build your 3-D abstract model. Use the drawing you made earlier as a guide, but remember you are trying to make your two-dimensional drawing into a 3-D shape.

    • 9

      Continue making the abstract model until you are happy with the result. Use your hands to mold the model into the shape you want. If you need to make any final adjustments, now is the time because the papier mache will start to dry.

    • 10

      Leave the papier mache to dry in a warm dry place. It may take several days, depending on the size of the model.

    • 11

      Test the papier mache is dry by trying to insert a long thin metal object, like a needle or knife into the side. If it goes in easily, it’s not dry, so leave it for a while longer. It’s ready when you can’t insert the object inside.

    • 12

      Use colored paints and paint brushes to finish off your 3-D abstract model. Always use light colors first as they are easily covered by darker colors. Ensure you let each color dry before using another color, unless you want to give a mixed paint finish.

    • 13

      Paint clear varnish over the 3-D model, once the paint has dried. This gives protection to the paint, but also gives a professional finish.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can get powdered glue from craft and hobby stores.
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  • Photo Credit Hemera Technologies/ Images

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