Paper Mache Blog



Recent Posts

  1. Yet Another Paper Mache Dragon
    Wednesday, April 23, 2014
  2. Paper Mache in Texas
    Saturday, April 05, 2014
  3. New Paper Mache Dragon
    Thursday, April 03, 2014
  4. Paper Mache Green Mask - Final
    Sunday, January 12, 2014
  5. Paper Mache Mask Tutorials- Part 3
    Wednesday, November 20, 2013
  6. Paper Mache Mask Tutorials- Part 2
    Friday, November 08, 2013
  7. Paper Mache Mask-Tutorials Part 1
    Saturday, November 02, 2013
  8. Paper Mache Mask Tutorials
    Sunday, October 27, 2013
  9. Paper Mache Dragon Trophy-Son of Maleficent
    Tuesday, October 15, 2013
  10. Maleficent's Paper Mache son
    Thursday, October 10, 2013

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Yet Another Paper Mache Dragon

Hi everyone,
I have to fully admit that I have a dragon problem.  I try to make other things.   My dog got half way done before I launched into another dragon trophy.   I'm going to try to hurry and finish that before I decide to act upon the new idea I have for a dragon.  Regardless,  here it is.  I know many of you already got this notice because you subscribe to my Youtube channel.   But in case you didn't, here is the paper mache dragon trophy I just finished.    Make sure you watch it in HD. 

I'll be back with my dog very soon!  I do like how it's turning out.  I love dogs.   Of course I love cats too.    Eddie has a cute little cameo at the end of the video.   (It was his idea.)
Thanks for popping by.

Paper Mache in Texas

Hi all.
Had a great day at the VASE (Visual Arts Scholastic Event) in Bryan, Texas.   Talked to 2000 of the top high school artists in the state and gave a workshop to 50 wonderful kids.   The art work at this event was simply unbelievable.   There a fantastic version of a Screamer and a dragon made with my techniques.  Anyway, here are photos taken by Arno Knapen if you are interested.
Hope you are all making art.

New Paper Mache Dragon

Hello everyone.    I know it's been a very long time since I posted anything.   I just needed some time to do art.  Just art.    I made a couple of dragons, and almost finished my dog.   I am revising my dragon-making book.  It is antiquated.    I wanted better photos and better commentary.   I'm also adding a section on dragon trophies.    Here is the dragon that will be featured in the book. 

So there won't be any video on this one.   I'm reserving this dragon for the pages of the book.  But I thought you might want to see it.    I will however post a video of the new trophy I made for the book as soon as it's finished.    And I will start a series of posts about the dog soon.

But this weekend I'm off to Texas again to participate in the State Visual Art Scholastic Event.   This event honors the top high school art students in the state.    I'll be giving them a talk on paper mache and doing a workshop.   I'm really honored to work with such talented students.

Hope you are all doing art.

Paper Mache Green Mask - Final

Hello everyone,
Time to finish this mask business.  It always takes me longer to get to my posts than I expect.   I finally finished the red (wall-street banker) mask tutorials on Youtube.   If you are interested in the final installment, watch here.  

I know that I've talked a lot in these tutorials and blog posts about my "cloth mache" process.   Well, here's more.   Despite years of working with cloth and glue I'm always amazed by how perfect it works for some ears.   It turns out that if you cram a square piece of cloth into a little hole and then wrap the rest around the ear, you get a perfectly shaped ear.  I don't know why we evolved with such strange wrinkles in our ears, but it sure makes it easy to replicate with cloth and glue.

paper mache mask-cloth ear paper mache mask-ear wrinkles
Even more perfectly, the cloth makes for some great horns.   For these horns I started with large pieces of cloth.   As I wrapped them around the horns I pinched the cloth so that it bunched up lengthwise.   I think it made for a really nice effect. 
paper mache mask-cloth horns paper mache mask-cloth mache
For this mask I used a dark blue paint and yellow.  First I put the dark blue into the eye sockets and inside the nose and ears.  While it was still wet I added the yellow.    It never looked yellow because it mixed immediately with the blue on the brush.   I like this way of painting because you don't get a monochromatic green.  You end up with many shades of the final color.   For the horns I just added some white to the yellow to get a cream color.
paper mache mask-start paint
paper mache mask-finish paint
Next, I blackwashed the mask.     Just watered down the black, painted it on, and wiped it off before it dried.   This worked beautifully on the horns I think.  I really like the way they turned out.  After the blackwash is dry I always add some color back.   I put a little green paint on my brush and hit the high spots.   I call this "highlighting". 
paper mache mask-blackwash paper mache mask-highlights
I scraped glue and the bits of green paint that got on the teeth.  Latex paint will come off polymer clay.    Lastly I wanted to make this mask comfortable on my face.  While it's not absolutely necessary I pulled out the wire mess I used in the beginning. 
paper mache mask-clean teeth paper mache mask-take out wire
I had an old soft rag laying around that I cut into pieces.   I used hot glue to put some strips around the rim.  Then I added other square pieces in places where the mask pressed against my face.  You don't need to do the entire inside of the mask.    This made the mask really comfortable.
paper mache mask-add padding
paper mache mask-more padding on inside
So that's it.   I really like this mask.   
paper mache green mask-finished
Happy belated New Year to all of you.  I hope you make a lot of art in 2014.

Next post....I'll let you see how my dog is coming along. 

Paper Mache Mask Tutorials- Part 3

Hi again,
Well, I thought I'd get this done sooner.    Then again, I can say that about virtually everything I do.   Maybe if my brain worked in a little more linear fashion.   But no.   My life is one big tangent on a diversion.   Anyway...I left off at the horns.   Just a little more sculpting after that.   I crumpled some newspaper and added cheeks.    Then I used the shell of a little paper mache ball  and some masking tape to fashion a couple of ears.  I realize I was a little hard in my new video (Great Paper Mache Tutorial-Part 4) on blue tape.  But it deserves it.  I know it's not meant for paper mache.  That's okay.   But I've done a lot of painting in my house.  I've given it many a try thinking I could mask off some molding and not get paint on it.   But never, not once, has that tape worked.  Never.   Pull if off and it looks like a monkey painted the room.  I hate it.  Same with the green tape.   And that frog tape (I think they call it that).   Has ANYONE ever used that tape successfully?  Okay, no more tirades.   But I do love the regular beige masking tape.  As I've said in my books I'd marry it if I wasn't already married.  And if it was a person. 
 paper mache cheek paper mache ear

I added a pointed nose.  Seems to make sense for this guy.   I added a photo of my "cloth mache" materials.  Now let me clarify something.  Of course the French word mache (with the symbols that I'm too lazy to find on my blog program) doesn't apply to cloth.  It's obviously not "mashed" or "chewed" cloth.    Then again, the kind of paper "mache" I use, the traditional one used in classroom, has nothing French or mashed about it either.   I know that some people do use versions of mashed paper.  They can be put off by the term cloth mache.   It doesn't matter.   I dubbed the process cloth mache many years ago.   And that's what it is.   And I just want to say that I still like Elmer's glue (that's not an ad....I don't do ads).  It is more water soluble that PVA.   It seems a little easier to work with.   But any white glue will work fine.   I buy it by the gallon.  It costs me about $12.   And I love OLD bedsheets.   Look carefully at the one in the photo.  It is gold to me.   Soft, old.  Lovely.   If you look closely you'll see it has yellowish stains.   I have no idea what that is. 
paper mache nose paper mache glue

And in case I haven't said it enough...I tear the sheet into various sized strips.   Tearing gives you two sides that will lay flat.   I fold the strips and pull off the strings.  Then I cut them at the folds with scissors.  I showed this in Part 1 of the mask tutorial.    I like to start with the eyes when I cloth mache.   I just dip strips of cloth in the glue, fold them and then put them on like you see in the photo.   I always play with the lids for quite a while trying to get the attitude I want. 
paper mache with cloth paper mache eyes

Next, the nose.  I stuff a piece of square cloth into the nose and then add pieces on top.    Sometimes I do the ears next, but this time I wanted to do the mouth.  This is just a bigger version of the eyelids.  I take a strip of cloth and fold it.  Sometimes I fold it a second time if I want thicker lips.    Three times if I'm making an Angelina Jolie mask.   I know, I've used that joke a dillion times.  But someday she is going to see it on her Google Alerts and write to me. 
paper mache nose 2 paper mache lips

I like to put that little wrinkle under the nose.   It's called something (I know the slang, but there is a real name too).   The mask looks nice with it.   I generally add one more fold to the bottom lip than I do to the top.  It probably doesn't make any difference, but it feels like I'm making a more natural mouth that way.  Of course there is nothing natural about this mouth.   
paper mache upper lip more paper mache lips

I'm going to stop here.  I'll tell you about the horns next time.  I think they worked out very nicely. 
paper mache lower lip
Thanks as always for stopping by.  And I have to say that I know my videos are getting stranger by the minute.    Instructional videos just seem to need ...something.   Otherwise they are sooooo slow.   That's my excuse anyway.

Take care.  Make art.  It's good for the brain.

Okay, before I leave, one last tirade about my stupid blog program.  If you look at my blog you'll see that the text extends much further across the page than my photos.   But I can't put two photos together that are any larger than the ones you see.   You can't see it, but the workspace I use is smaller, and if I make the photos any larger the second one pops underneath the first one.   I'd like these photos to be bigger.   But I don't want single photos all the way down the post.  The post would be six feet long if I did.   It bugs me.   I'm tired.  I should go to bed.   That's something I could write on Twitter.   But who would care that I was going to bed?  Can someone explain Twitter?   I don't get it.  I have an account.  But I don't know what I could write in one sentence that anyone would care about.  

Okay.   I'm done.   I should Tweet that.

Paper Mache Mask Tutorials- Part 2

Hi again,
I do wonder if people are still interested in masks after Halloween.   As you know, I missed my deadline for these paper mache tutorials big time. could say that these videos are intended for Halloween 2014!  Yeh...let's do that.     (Of course now that I said that I will be a cursed and I won't get these finished by October.)    Anyway, if you are still interested, I posted the "Great Paper Mache Mask Tutorial- Part 3" today.    All of a sudden this post seems a bit redundant.   But that's okay. 

I left off with this cloth mache armature.  First, I cut the holes with my knife and scissors.  Again, those little wires will prick you if you aren't careful.   I'm not.  I have lots of scratches and little puncture wounds.   In fact, I have them in places that didn't get close to the mask.  Go figure.   Anyway, I made holes for my eyes, my nose, and my mouth.     Then I got out my trusty glue gun and added some teeth.   Lots.  Long pointy ones this time.

As I mentioned in the video, for a mask, weight is really important.  So even with these smaller paper mache horns I cut off the ends and pulled out as much paper as I could.   You can't really get a shell that's too thin.  Remember, this gets a skin of cloth mache.  That will make them very strong again no matter how thin the walls of the horns get.  So have at it.  

When I was done I attached the bigger horns with hot glue.   Speaking of redundant...I always follow hot glue with masking tape.  I think I use more masking tape than I need.   I've been told that a number of times.   But this is America.  We are trained to use too much of everything, right?  In fact, if you want to know a secret, if the masking tape doesn't hold well, I put hot glue under it.   How's that for neurotic?

I decided I wanted a double chin on this guy.  I really mean, two chins.  So I cut open one of the extra little paper mache balls I had and used the shell, half on each side of the chin.  I like the effect.  From this point forward I sculpt primarily by crumpling pieces of newspaper and adding masking tape.   These features are too small for more paper mache, although I have left over pieces of shell I will use if they are handy.    I made some thick brows above the eyes by crumpling paper.    After that I decided to add some more smaller horns, a couple of rows over the top of the head.   I used aluminum foil for these.  Every so often I like working with aluminum.   It works really well for some details like small horns.   In fact, you can use sheets of aluminum for the initial armature.  You can press it over your face just like I did with the wire mess.  You can get a nice impression that way.   I know that some of you out there do that. 

So I fashioned little horns out of aluminum and hot glued them onto the top of the head.  Of course I covered them with masking tape.   More is better.  Right?

I'm going to leave it here.  I'll show more sculpting soon.    Thank you for stopping by.   Eddie and Max say hi.   Please, if you have any questions or comments or suggestions or critiques, post them.   I know that many of you are successful mask makers.
See you soon.
PS.  Did I mention I'm making a dog?  Haven't done that since the Blues Hound.

Paper Mache Mask-Tutorials Part 1

Hey everyone. 
Well, I got sidetracked, as usual.   I'd rather sculpt, than write about sculpting.  As usual, I have a few irons in the fire.  Thank you for your patience.  My intention here is to add some commentary and offer a few tips to go along with the mask-making videos.  I just posted the second one here.   If I put everything I wanted to say in the videos they would be way too long.   Go beyond five minutes with a video tutorial and it begins to feel like you're watching paint dry.     So I'll say some things here that I didn't have time for in the videos.  You can read them at your own pace.   Or read them really fast (if you took Evelyn Woods' "Speed Reading" years ago, you can zip through this in 20 seconds, and enjoy none of it.)  (You could even read it dyslexic people.  They actually teach that in that course. )(I have some dyslexia so I can make that joke.)(And I took the Evelyn Woods course when I was in college.)(Couldn't read any faster when I was done.)(Of course I didn't do any of the homework.)(See...this is what I call "commentary.")

I want to talk more about the armature of the mask.   There are many ways to make an impression.  You could run down the street naked.   NO...I mean the impression of your head!    Some people actually have a friend paper mache on their face.  I've never done that, but it seems problematic.   Too much preparation.  And you have to sit with the stuff on your face until it's sort of dry.    I really like this wire.   I got this brand at Home Depot.  It's called "Wire Form".   It's made for this kind of thing.   I made four face impressions (and they extended all the way down the back of my head) with the 10 ft by 20 ft piece of wire in the package.   Now I must warn you, the edges will poke you and scratch you.  The directions say to wear gloves.  Yeh....sure....I'll get out my big work gloves.   No...just be careful of the edges.  
 wire mess for paper mache armature wire armature for paper mache mask

In the video I used my usual "cloth mache" to cover the wire impression.   It's too flimsy to add horns and other details without adding something.   You can also use regular paper mache over this wire armature.   Just use smaller newspaper strips than usual.   I found that it works well to put the wire form over the flour bag.   It supports the wire impression perfectly while you work. 
making mask with paper mache paper mache mask part 1

On the left is the dried paper mache version.   On the right is the cloth mached version.  I still like the cloth mache.  It's very strong and light, perfect for this purpose. 
 paper mache mask face impression cloth mache impression of face
Speaking of cloth....I've noticed more people using plaster cloth, the stuff they use for casts when you break your arm.  You just dip strips of it in water and apply.   I suppose you could have a friend put that on your face too, to make the armature....and then sign it (ha ha).   I just think that would be way too heavy.   Some paper mache artists are now adding a "skin" of plaster cloth to their projects.  I've used it.  Don't like it.  Too unwieldy.  Way too heavy for a mask you might want to wear.  And isn't nearly as effective as the "cloth mache" when it comes to adding details.   But don't take my word for it.  Give it a try and let me know what you think. 

Back to paper mache.  For the green-man mask (that I'll profile on this blog) I made some smaller horns.   Once again I just crumpled paper and wrapped with masking tape.  I didn't use clothes hangers with these because they are so small.   I will paper mache these horns.  Later, when they are dry, I'll pull the paper out from the inside.   As I mentioned, weight is an important consideration when making these masks. 
horns for paper mache mask

To mache these horns I start at the top and work my way down adding the paper strips as I go.  Here's something I didn't mention in the videos.   Keeping your hands really wet with paste, turn the horn as you add the strips rather than wrapping the paper strips around the horn.  I know, this is confusing.  Because of that, look at the 10 second video below.   Also, squeeze the horn as you work.   It adds tension as you add the strips.  That is, as the horn expands back to its normal shape it presses outward against the newly applied paper strip.  It makes the horn really smooth and strong.    I hope this makes sense.   Just watch this very short video.

Finally, a note about Eddie.   As you might know by now, I have three cats.   A very old one named Riley, who only rarely ventures into my studio.   Max, the Bengal, who loves tearing up my paper.   Then there is Eddie.  He's a very smart, spoiled, but fun cat.   He loves the heat, and he's very interested in everything I do.   He has a cushy pillow for a seat in the corner of my workshop just under a heat vent.   It's where I put my paper mache to dry.   It's nice and warm and he can watch the squirrels and birds outside the window.   Whenever I work, Eddie is there.   At the end of Part 2 you can hear him talking.    It really bothered him that I had my arm around "Fab Frank" (my lounge lizard Frankenstien).  He came running over to tell me so. 
Eddie in my paper mache studio
Here he is still staring at Frank.  Makes you wonder.

That's it for now.   More later.   I still intend to add some posts about the making of Maleficent's "son".     I'll try to get to some of those this week as well.  But I'm working on another dog.  I'll show you that later.  
Thanks for stopping by.

Paper Mache Mask Tutorials

Hi everyone,

I made a couple of masks for Halloween this year.    Since I've been asked about masks a lot, I decided to make a couple tutorials about them.    I'm putting one on YouTube.  And I'll have one here.     I just uploaded part 1 of the YouTube tutorial (here).  I should have part 2 done in a couple of days.   The mask I'll make here is the one below.   Stay tuned if you are interested.

paper mache green mask

Paper Mache Dragon Trophy-Son of Maleficent

Hello everyone.
If you've had enough of my paper mache Son of Maleficent, then just ignore this post.  I promised I'd let you know when I finished the time-lapsed video of the project.  Well, I finished today.   So I'm letting you know.   You can find the video here on YouTube.   Please take advantage of my HD camera and watch in HD.  Thanks.   And please subscribe if you haven't already.  I'm still bummed about losing almost 5,000 subscribers because of a stupid mistake.   Don't get excited, this video is pretty much the same as all my other videos.  I'm getting a bit tired of the format.  Maybe I'll try something different on the next one.   Maybe I'll shoot it in my underwear.   But that wouldn't matter because I try to edit myself out of my videos.   I tried to make my "Rum and Paper Mache" video different.   It didn't seem to work out.    I think people were creeped out by the dancing puppets...or the idea of a puppets drinking rum, or dragons destroying households with rum, ....or maybe it will eventually get a million views.   It just may take a thousand years.   Anyway, enough about that.

While I'm here, I realize that while I showed the making of Dani's little dragons freshly hatched, I never posted any photos of the juvenile version of Drogon.    I put out the video of it being made, but never posted any photos here.   So here he is.   And underneath is the photo of little Drogon with his friends.

paper mache Drogon from Game of Thrones

paper mache baby dragons
And, in case you've missed Eddie the pill, here he is.  Yes, he's wondering the same thing.
my cat Eddie

Thank you for stopping by!!

Maleficent's Paper Mache son

Hello everyone,
I know, I know, I was supposed to get back with another post about Naga, my paper mache snake.    But I've been busy.  Aren't we all.   Some of you might recall that last year I took on a commission to make "Maleficent", the dragon from the classic Disney movie "Sleeping Beauty."   I had only one photo from the movie to work with (I have this photo, and the Maleficent I made below).    It turned out to be a very popular piece.   So I decided to make her son.  I'll bet you didn't know she had a son!   Well, she did.   How do I know?   Because I have his head on my wall.   Here it is.
paper mache Son of Maleficent

I wanted the son to be more aggressive have more of everything.  So I added a lot more horns and more detail in every respect.

Yes, I added l.e.d. lights like I did with Maleficent, red this time.   I have little micro-switches behind the ears to turn them on and off.   Of course the lights look much better when it's darker.  But I wanted you to see the details of the trophy, so I shot these photos in the daylight.

These lights are battery operated (I didn't want a chord coming off the trophy) so you can't just leave them constantly lit.    For the majority of the time they will be turned off.   So the trophy has to look good even with the lights off.  Here is the trophy with the lights off.   Personally, I think the white-ish eyes look great.   Here are views from two sides.
paper mache Son of Malecifient - lights off

paper mache dragon trophy

And, here is one with me in the photo so that you get a sense of scale. 
dan reeder with paper mache dragon trophy

And, in case you forgot, or never saw them, here are photos of the original Maleficent commission along with the cartoon I used as a guide.
paper mache Maleficent Sleeping Beauty Maleficent Dragon
I've been working on this project for a while now.   I will show some of the steps in future posts (I really will).   I also shot video of the making of this project.  So I'll have one of my time-lapsed videos to go along with it.   I'll let you know when that's done.

Now I'm sure that there are Disney purists out there who will hate this project.   It will be seen as sacrilegious to mess around with the original (much less suggest that Maleficent had a baby!).   To those people I can only's just a cartoon.  

Thanks as always for stopping by, and for your patience.
PS.  After pondering names for this guy, I think it has to be "Maleficence,"  which means to do evil or harm, or engage in mischievous activities.