How to Make a Paper Mache Elephant


According to the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, paper mache (also known as papier-mache) dates back to China's Han Dynasty from 202 BC to AD 220. Once used to make pot lids, modern paper mache artisans create anything from decorative sculptures to carnival masks and more. Adults and children alike can use paper mache to make a unique elephant sculpture. Mix your own paper paste or buy a ready-made art paste product for an imaginative animal project.

Things You'll Need

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 1/4 cup school glue
  • Plastic bowl
  • Construction paper
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Balloons
  • Straw
  • Scissors
  • Cardboard tubes
  • Paper plate
  • Masking tape
  • Paint
  • Paintbrush
  • Newspaper

Make Your Own Paper Mache Paste

  • Measure 1 1/2 cups water, 1 cup flour and 1/4 cup school glue.

  • Pour the measured ingredients into a plastic bowl.

  • Mix the glue, water and flour together until smooth.

Make an 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 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.

Paper Mache the Elephant

  • Cover your work surface with newspaper.

  • Cut 2-inch by 10-inch strips of construction paper.

  • Dip the paper strips into the paper mache 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.

Add Finishing Touches

  • Paint your elephant with a gray 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.

Tips & Warnings

  • Create your own unique paint color by mixing brown, white, yellow or any other colors together.
  • If you don't have time to make your own paste, purchase a mixture at an arts or crafts store.
  • Always buy nontoxic art materials. If you are working with children, make sure the materials are age-graded for your child's specific age.

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  • Photo Credit elephant elephant image by Kirubeshwaran from
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