Here's an easy and fun craft project for kids to make for Earthday.  It's a paper mache Earth that kids can keep on display in their rooms. These cozy mysteries feature Utah O'Brien-a paper mache artist and accidental sleuth who gets a lot of help from her Border collie, Jocko. Subscribe to my mailing list and get interesting ideas and great new projects in your email inbox.
When I saw a photo of a long-beaked echidna in a New York Times article, I knew I had found my next paper mache project. This is a fairly advanced project, and you will need to use some sharp tools to cut the wooden toothpicks and for making holes for the spines. For this project you will need some cardboard, newsprint, brown paper (a paper bag will work), some masking tape, white flour, a sheet of single-ply paper towel, about 100 round wooden toothpicks, and acrylic craft paint. I also use some joint compound, which you can find at your local hardware store, to smooth the sculpture between layers of paper mache. When I made my paper mache horse I discovered that it really helps if you build an animal around a cardboard pattern. The front legs need to be twisted a bit so the front feet point forward, and then bent at the wrist so the feet will lay flat on the ground. Now crumple some sheets of newspaper into a flattened ball and tape it securely to the body of your echidna pattern. As you can see in the photos above, the legs on one side are closer together than the legs on the other side.
When the first layer of paper and paste is completely dry, you can use sheetrock joint compound to smooth and round off the sculpture. Placing the feet on the plastic or foil when they’re wet will set the feet into the right position, and make sure the finished sculpture sits firmly on the ground. Now continue adding your brown paper and paste to the rest of the sculpture, and let it dry.
Note – the toes on my echidna are not as fat as they look in photos of real echidnas.
After you stick your little paper donuts on both sides of the head, go back and use small flat pieces of paper towel and paste them over the donut and the surrounding face.
Be careful to not lose the detail – the extra pieces are used to smooth out the shape of the eyelid and attach it firmly to the face. Now tear off a very small piece of paper towel, dip it in the paste, and roll it into a tiny eyeball. Use a nail, an awl, or an electric drill to poke holes where you’ve drawn your spots. The sculpture will be difficult to handle when some of the spines are attached, so go back and make sure all the holes big enough for the toothpicks to fit in easily before you start pasting them in. Once your toothpicks are cut to the right length, dip the cut end into your flour and water paste and poke the end into the holes.
The eye was painted black, and when the black paint was dry I used the point of a left-over toothpick as a brush to make a spot of reflected light in each eye, using the Antique White paint. The finished echidna sculpture isn’t much fun to hold, since all those spines are sharp!
Actually, those toothpicks were a bit dangerous while they were being added to the echidna, too. I’m not expecting you to have done something like this, but i thought you may have some advice. Add to EJ Playlist  Here is the simple way to make great paper mache in about 2 minutes.
Add to EJ Playlist  This little Nemo fish is a great project for anyone wanting to learn the basic steps of Paper Mache. Add to EJ Playlist  Paper mache clay requires few ingredients and batches can be quickly and cheaply made as you need. Add to EJ Playlist  These beautiful bowls made out of paper mache are attractive and vibrantly coloured to use as a centre piece on your dining table or drawing room . Add to EJ Playlist  Here is the 5-headed Taimat Dragon that I made for the Chromatic Dragon restaurant in Savannah, Georgia. Add to EJ Playlist  Whimsical Minion with Paper Mache I thought the studio needed a few little minions running around just to help make art. Add to EJ Playlist  Learn how to make an awesome paper mache heart, collaged with pictures of you and your loved ones!

Add to EJ Playlist  This tutorial shows you the steps to make a paper mache bowl using another bowl as your armature. Add to EJ Playlist  You will learn how to form recycled newspaper into a starfish, cover with paper mache, paint, and protect.
Add to EJ Playlist  A Seattle artist has turned his love of paper mache from a hobby into a career. If you’ve always wanted to create life-like animal sculptures, but you thought it would be “too hard” or “too expensive,” you’re in for a very pleasant surprise. Jonni Good’s easy techniques help you create stunning wildlife art without the mess usually associated with papier mache, and the patterns included in each chapter guarantee that your sculptures will be perfectly shaped and proportioned from the very start. Paper mache clay takes about 5 minutes to make, using inexpensive ingredients, and applying it to your form is as easy as frosting a cake. This might sound silly at first, but you also have to prepare the face that you'll be making a mask on.
You may think that layering the strips is self explanatory, but there is really a right way and a wrong way to do it. Are the facial features mentioned in step two built up on top of the flat piece of cardboard that is cut out for step one?
A second class was just like the first, with an emphasis on placing newspaper strips in the opposite direction to add some strength. Final class: I drew some very simple continent shapes on the board, and had the students paint in green the "land" on their globe.
When you purchase a book through a link you find here, the small commission I receive will help support this site. You’ll also need an old pair of scissors or other sharp tool to cut the toothpicks, and a sharp awl, nail or electric drill to poke the holes for the spines. This is not absolutely needed, but it does make it a lot easier to get exactly the shape you want without adding lots of layers of paper mache. I made my echidna a lot smaller, about 9 inches from the tip of his snout to his rear end (he has no tail). The paws on the hind feet look like little primate hands, and they point sideways when the animal is standing.
You are now finished making the newspaper and masking tape form, and you’re ready to start adding the paper mache.
Pull the wet strips against the side of the bowl to remove the excess paste, and then smooth the strips down onto the sculpture. Never put a paper mache sculpture in an oven that’s hotter than that, because it may warp or burn.
You can also use the joint compound to accent any details, like the dip between the fat neck and the head. Dip your paper strip in the paste, roll it up, and then form it into a donut-shape to create the upper and lower eyelid.
Angle the holes so the spines will go in at the correct angle – pointing downward at the rear and sides, and more verticle on the top. If you make one of these crazy critters, or if you just have something to say, please add your comments below.
When I'm not catering to the needs of my obnoxious cat, I make videos, create stuff, and play around with paper mache. That would probably work, but you may get faster drying if you can put it in front of a fan, instead.
I have the dickens of a time getting two items to match symmetrically, and this might be my solution– plus bailing wire for the twisting and turning. Being a movie maniac, especially in the horror genre i can’t help but create things from movies i like.
This book contains step-by-step instructions and over 250 photos to guide you through the enjoyable process of making realistic animal sculptures in a whole new way.
I will take you through a method that will create a durable mask.First, lay wide strips along the jawline, forehead and the bridge of the nose. I’m sure she builds up all the shapes on top of the cardboard, using crumpled newspaper and tape. During the first session, I had my students (grades K — 3) place long strips (about 10" x 3") covered in mache across the beach ball. I had students mache paper towel strips for a final layer, but they really absorbed too much mache and got very heavy and soggy.

If you want to use my pattern but make your paper mache echidna a different size, use the grid lines to transfer your pattern onto a larger or smaller piece of paper.
Use a modeling tool or the edge of a knife to push the toweling into the spaces between the toes to keep them separate. Make sure there is nobody else at your table who could be hit in the eye with these sharp points.
I did not use gesso or primer, because I wanted the mottled look of the brown paper and paste to show through. I am applying a layer of joint compound and am curious if it is okay to put it in the oven on a low setting to decrease the dry time of the joint compound? And if anyone started roughhousing and actually threw my echidna at another child, I think there might be a lawsuit. I don’t have a tutorial that shows a gecko, but my snowy owl tutorial shows you how to make a pattern for an armature.
And since i’m already planning to buy liquid latex for a Predator mask (Also an alien movie that caught my eye) so i could use that.
The cardboard shape helps to make sure the outside shape of the mask stays the way she wants it. In the future I'm going to find some kind of blank newsprint or something because the paper stays much crisper to the end, I think.
My kids were so young I didn't bring up the issue of the north and south poles being white, but older students would probably like to do so. The local elementary school had no art program and that was all the inspiration she needed. When the tummy, legs and feet are covered, turn the sculpture right-side up and place the feet on plastic wrap or aluminum foil. If you and your daughter draw a gecko, and then turn it into a pattern like I show on that page, you could then use the methods shown on this echidna page to fill out the shape and cover it with paper mache. If you didn’t want the cardboard to stay in the helmet, you could cover it with plastic before adding paper mache.
When the paint was dry, I sprayed the globes heavily with a spray varnish to add a little shine. Kathy served as a volunteer art docent for several years, later becoming the school's Professional Expert in Visual Arts. Do you have any suggestions for what else could be used for the spikes – something a class of 17 five and six year old boys won’t injure themselves on? Jonni even shows you how to create your own patterns from original drawings or photos, so you can use her techniques to sculpt any animal you like.
It's much easier to rip nice long strips of paper when you are ripping along the grain. When drying, I had some issues with the beach balls deflating a bit, making them look lopsided. Rubber would be even better, but I can’t think of anything off-hand that could be turned into rubber spikes. I thought it would be a great feature to have posable fingers and tail so that i could actually stick it on my or someone else’s face.
I want to get a base for the head then I can add the dimensions and details of the head afterwards with the paper mache clay.
To achieve that, i thought of building the fingers and tail around some pretty strong wire. But I found that if I placed them in the sun for a few hours, the heat reinflated them and saved my behind. The wire would then be wrapped with newspaper and masking tape and then paper mache’d.
But then i thought of a problem: since paper mache is hard, it would not end up being posable after all.

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