How to Make a Papier-Mache Doll

Papier-mache, from the original French term which literally means "chewed paper," is an older art form than you may think. In fact, according to The Papier Mache Resource, references to dolls made from papier-mache can be traced all the way back to 1540, meaning papier-mache dolls were probably made even earlier. Papier-mache is a great way to get started with sculpture making, because the materials are inexpensive and the techniques are easy to learn.

Things You'll Need

  • Spool 20-gauge craft wire
  • Styrofoam ball (optional)
  • Masking tape
  • Wire cutters
  • Paper towels
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 3 cups water
  • Strips of newspaper
  • Disposable or old bowl
  • Wooden spoon
  • 1200-grit sandpaper
  • Acrylic paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Tissue paper (optional)

Instructions

    • 1

      Build an armature for your doll. The armature is simply a structure used to build on with papier-mache when creating your doll. Form a head for the doll with a Styrofoam ball or a wad of newspaper, rounded into a ball and wrapped with masking tape.

    • 2

      Cut a piece of 20-gauge craft wire, at least 30 inches in length to form the armature of the doll body. Using a single piece of wire, form the base of the armature like a stick figure. Leave 1 1/2 inches for the neck and then sculpt a 4-inch arm by doubling the wire in a tight u-shape at the end of the arm. Repeat this process around the body to create two 5-inch legs and another arm opposite the first. Cut off excess wire with wire cutters.

    • 3

      Wrap the wire in paper towels and masking tape to give bulk to your doll form. Bend the wire armature into the permanent position you want for the doll. For example, if you want your doll to be sitting, you won't be able to change the position of the limbs after the papier-mache dries.

    • 4

      Create a glue medium for your papier-mache project. Mix the flour paste in a bowl you don't need anymore. Use 3 cups of water for every 2 1/2 cups of flour, and stir vigorously. While some recipes suggest boiling the paste, the Ultimate Paper Mache website says the boiled paste is actually weaker than a raw mixture.

    • 5

      Lay sheets of newspaper down for a work surface. Dip strips of newspaper in the glue mixture and begin smoothing the strips over your doll armature. Cover the entire armature and let it dry before applying the next layer. This will prevent mold and mildew from building up in between layers. Make sure you have plenty of layers, so that you can sand the surface after drying.

    • 6

      Use thin paper like tissue paper or paper towels to sculpt details like facial features, hands and feet. Allow all layers to dry completely before finishing the doll. Smooth wrinkles in the dried papier-mache by sanding the hardened surface with fine sandpaper. Paint your papier-mache doll with acrylic paint to add detail.

Tips & Warnings

  • You can make any size of doll with papier-mache by building a larger armature.
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References

  • Photo Credit bottle of glue on black marble image by phizics from Fotolia.com

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