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Crafting Feathered Friends: A Step-by-Step Guide to DIY Paper Mache Birds

Learn how to make paper mache birds with supplies you already have using this easy DIY and step by step instructions for handmade modern decor.

Birds of a feather stick together at least when they are covered with paper mache. Let’s make paper mache birds and let our creativity take flight.

It truly is amazing what you can do with everyday materials like recycled paper, masking tape, and your imagination to make charming modern decor pieces, especially eco and shoestring budget friendly.

Whether you are an experienced DIYer or a beginner crafter, this step by step tutorial will introduce you to the art of paper mache.

How to Make a Paper Mache Bird

What is paper mache?

Paper mache or Papier-mâché is the art of layering moistened paper strips or pulp to create sculptures for art and crafts. There are two methods.

The first is using paper strips that are soaked in paste and then placed on a wire skeleton or objects to create a cast.

The second method is pieces of paper that is boiled to a pulp and soaked in paste to be used as a cast over smaller objects and can be molded.

We are using the first method of paper strips and glue over bird molds using paper, wire, and tape.

How To Make Paper Mache Birds picutre collage showing two birds and the projecess for Pinterest with black font.
How to Make Paper Mache Birds

What you need for paper mache birds DIY

  1. Recycled Paper – An extra perk for this project, it’s eco-friendly and easy on the wallet
  2. Masking tape
  3. Mod Podge or 50/50 solution of water and craft or all purpose glue like Elmer’s
  4. 18 Guauge Picture Hanging Wire or similar wire
  5. Wire cutters
  6. Paper towel or a smoother paper like tissue or printer paper. Thinner recycled paper can also work.
  7. Spray paint is optional, either keep the natural paper color(s) or spray paint white or your color of choice

Step-by-step paper mache bird

The first step is to create the bird shape. I recently saw more modern-minimalist style paper mache birds that inspired my birds.

You’ll create the bird model in two pieces, the body and the head and then attach them. Just follow the steps and picture examples below!

  • First, as with any paper mache project, grab some paper.   You can use newspaper, junk mail, or in my case, an IKEA catalog (don’t worry, I read it first!).
A picture of an old magazine and masking tape to be used for creating a paper mache bird.
Old Magazine and Tape
  • Tear out some pages and wad/squish them up in your hand to form the body of the bird.  I used two pages, you can use more or less to create a bird body size you are happy with.
Step by step tutorial for how to make paper mache birds showing a wad of recycled paper.
Wad Up Paper
  • To form the head, use masking tape to create a bird head shape with a little point for the beak at one end of the wadded ball.  (Who knew there was such potential for a little ball of wadded  paper?)
Use masking tape around recycled paper to create a bird shape for paper mache.
Use Tape to Form Beak

For this bird size, use about 2/3rds of a page, folding it to create a long flat tail, and wrap it in masking tape. 

The two pieces of a paper mache bird model, the body and the tail.
Tail and Body
The tail and body of a paper mache bird in process.
Bird Tail and Body
  • Next, attach that tail to the bird with some more tape.
Attaching the bird body and tail with more masking tape to be paper mache.
Attach Tail with Tape to Body

The next items you will need are mod podge (50% water, 50% craft glue like Elmer’s works too),  wire cutters and needle pliers for extra help, and wire. 

I used some wire that came in a framing kit which is 18 gauge.  Make sure your wire gauge is thick enough to hold up your bird body.

Paper mache bird leg supplies, wire and wire cutters.
Decoupage for Paper mache

How to create wire legs and feet for paper mache birds frame

  • Snip off about an eight to 10-inch piece of wire to create the two legs and feet.  I created three little toes, and thumb by looping the wire at the bottom.
A close up of creating legs and feet with wire for a paper mache bird.
Wire to Form Legs and Feet
  • You have two choices at this point. Leave the wire exposed for cute-skinny legs and twist the toe loops to make them skinnier. Or use the extra wire to twist around each leg to make a thicker limb.
Two sets of wire legs and feet and two bird bodies ready to assemble for paper mache.
Bird Legs and Bodies
A close up of wire feet and legs for paper mache bird frame.
Wire Bird Legs and Feet
  • Turn your little bird over and wrap a piece of tape underneath, position the legs, and secure with tape.
A close up of how to attach wire legs to paper bird body with masking tape.
Attach Legs with More Tape
A bird body model with wire feet and legs ready for paper mache.
Whole Bird
Two paper and tape bird bodies attached to wire legs and feet.
Two Poses of Birds

How to cover the birds with paper mache

Again, use whatever paper you like. Newspaper or magazine pages are perfect if you plan on painting the birds. Use napkins, paper towels, or tissue paper if you want to keep the texture similar to the bird model you just created.

Strips of paper towels and glue and water mixture ready for paper mache birds.
Strips of Paper and Glue/Water Mixture
  • Tear your paper into strips about 2 inches wide and a few inches long.
  • Take a strip of paper, dip it into your glue/water mixture, and start wrapping your bird body. Smooth the pieces down as you go.
A bird shape is getting wrapped with paper mache using paper towel strips and glue.
Wrap Wet Paper Strips on Bird
  • Keep adding layers to better form the body.  I added extra for the belly and at the top of the legs.  You can also curl your bird tail feathers under if you like.
Bird shape is getting better with paper mache strips of paper towels but other paper can be used!
Paper Mache Bird

The bird will probably not stand on its own again until the paper dries. You can leave the wire legs as is or wrap in tape and paper. I found using tape was the easiest around the wire legs and feet.

A modern abstract bird shape held together with masking tape and standing on a table.
One Bird Down, One to Go

Spray paint or use craft paint to customize your birds colors.

Two complete white DIY paper mache small birds are standing on a stack of books and a table.
Completed Paper Mache Birds

And that’s it! Just shop your house for supplies and you’ll have paper mache birds in no time!

Easy paper mache bird tutorial Q&A

How to make paper mache glue? Water and flour is the traditional method and has been used for centuries. It is still used today by some artists but white craft glue mixed with water is the easiest method available today.

How to make paper mache smooth? You can use the back of a spoon to press down on your paper mache to make it smooth. Make sure to tear your strips of paper and keep them thin so they lay flat.

How to make paper mache dry faster? The best options to help paper mache dry quicker is to have a ceiling or other fan set on low, use a hair dryer on a low setting, or set the paper mache outside on a dry day.

How to waterproof paper mache? Mod podge already has a seal with the white glue but there are specific paper water proof coats you can buy for heavier duty. You can also use a coat or two of polyurethane spray.

You would probably also enjoy Paper Mache ideas from The Spruce Crafts and Paper Mache Bowls from Happy Hooligans.

You can find all the best decorating ideas and DIYs for Spring and Easter on this page! It also includes seasonal printables, checklists, and worksheets for Spring decluttering and organizing.


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