How to Make Paper Mache Doll Heads


Using this inexpensive technique you can create personalized doll heads that resemble any person or character. Simple ingredients and items you probably have on hand are all that you need to create paper mâché doll heads. The heads can be used to create one-of-a-kind dolls with the addition of a body and clothing.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper
  • Liquid starch
  • 10 to 12 inch square or rectangular plastic or glass container
  • Small balloon
  • Small bowl or coffee cup
  • Masking tape
  • 3-inch piece of paper towel or toilet paper roll
  • Tempera paint
  • Paint brushes
  • Decoupage sealer or varnish
  • Yarn
  • Hot glue
  • Cover your work surface with newspaper. Pour approximately 2 inches of undiluted liquid starch into a rectangular container. Leave this in the middle of your work surface on newspaper.

  • Separate additional newspaper into individual pages, leaving them folded once in a double layer as if you were about to read the front page. Holding the paper by the short side, tear down the long edge creating 1-inch strips. Tear the long strips into thirds or fourths, creating shorter strips.

  • Blow up a small, round balloon to the desired doll head size, and tie it off. Sit the balloon onto a small coffee cup or dish to steady it.

  • Completely submerge the newspaper strips into the container of liquid starch. Holding the strip over the container by the end, insert the strip between two fingers and swipe down the entire strip with your fingers to remove excess starch.

  • Cover the entire surface of the balloon with a single layer of starch-covered strips. Overlap the edges of the strips slightly to ensure complete coverage. Turn the balloon on the coffee cup or dish as you cover the balloon with the starch covered strips.

  • Leave the covered balloon on the coffee cup or dish to dry for several hours. Repeat the starch-covered newspaper strip layering step four more times to build up the head form. Be sure the layers dry completely between each and after the final layer.

  • Use newspaper strips, crumpled and molded with your hands to create facial features, such as eyebrows, ears, a nose and lips. Secure the features with masking tape.

  • Use a three inch piece of paper towel or toilet paper roll to create a neck. Cut a hole into the bottom of the balloon matching the diameter of the paper towel roll. Place the end of the roll into the hole in the balloon and secure i with masking tape.

  • Place two more layers of starch coated newspaper strips over the features to secure and smooth them. Allow the balloon to dry completely after the final layer.

  • Paint the balloon and facial features with desired colors of tempera paint. Allow paint to completely. Coat the dried paint with a decoupage sealer or varnish and allow to dry.

  • Cut pieces of yarn to the desired length for hair. Hot glue the hair onto the balloon in the desired style.

Tips & Warnings

  • Liquid starch provides a ready made, relatively cheap and clean material for paper mâché, however any paper mâché recipe may be used as substitute for the starch. (
  • Modeling clay or commercial paper pulp may be used as a substitute for the newspaper strips when creating facial features.
  • If you create an extra large doll head, use a piece of large wrapping paper roll for the neck to provide a more proportional neck for the larger head.
  • A doll wig rather than yarn may be adhered to the head for hair.
  • Do not attempt to tear the newspaper across the short side rather than down the long side as tearing across the short side goes against the normal grain of the paper, creating a jagged rather than a straight tear.


  • Photo Credit doll face image by robert mobley from
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