Paper-mache for Halloween & Día de los Muertos

Get creative with paper-mache for Halloween and Día de los Muertos.

Paper-mache is a fun and inexpensive way for kids and adults to create sculptures using recycled materials and papers. You can use anything — newspaper, toilet paper rolls, bubble wrap, gift wrap, grocery bags or cardboard — to sculpt any particular shape you dream up. Start this activity by drawing ideas, search around your home for materials to sculpt with, and then have fun playing. And we give you two ways to paper-mache, so you can use whichever material you have handy. Pro tip: If you need a smoother or faster-drying project, choose the paint-and-glue version.

Recycled materials
Masking tape
Paint or paint pens
Wire, yarn or string



  1. Create your shape by using the recycled materials and tape to sculpt your piece into place. For October, we suggest pumpkins, sugar skulls and bats! 
  2. To create pieces to hang on a string, twist a piece of wire or a bread tie into a loop and attach or insert it into the top or back of your sculpture.
  3. Choose either style of paper-mache in the boxes below.

Tissue paper
Craft or tempera paint
White glue

  1. In a bowl, mix 2 parts white glue to 1 part craft or tempera paint, and mix with a paintbrush.
  2. Tear your tissue paper into small pieces.
  3. Use the paintbrush to apply your tissue paper.
  4. Once it’s dry, you can paint more details on your creation using paint, paint pens or markers.

1 cup flour          
1 cup water
2 tablespoons salt          

  1. Add flour, water and salt to a medium-sized bowl and mix together until smooth.
  2. Next, tear newspaper into 3-inch-by-1-inch strips. (Bigger pieces require more strips, smaller pieces, fewer. Be sure to have plenty on hand so you won’t have to try to rip more pieces with sticky fingers!)
  3. Dip the newspaper into the paper-mache paste and remove excess with your fingers.
  4. Add the gooey newspaper strip to your sculpture, and continue this process until you have covered your creation with one to two layers of newspaper. Use your fingers or a paintbrush to smooth out your layers. 
  5. You can dry your piece with heat from the sun, a fan or blow-dryer. If you’ve added wire, avoid touching the metal.
  6. Once it’s dry, you can paint your piece with paint and/or paint pens.

Julz Nally
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