You can make this paper mache seahorse with newspaper and paste. No fancy clay required!
Age: 12 +
This can be made with less details, so even younger kids can do it.
Difficulty: Medium - Hard
Time Scale: 5 out of 5
Craft paint in:
This paper mache seahorse has been on my to do list for quite some time. This strange looking sea creature fascinates me. I have always wanted one, so I decided to make my own!
Use a small newspaper that when opened up is about 23 inches across.
Crumple and roll the newspaper, twist and squeeze into a seahorse shape.
Special features on the paper mache seahorse to note are: The body is not very thick. He has fins, a long skinny nose, flattened on the end, a curled tail, bulging stomach, a bump on the top of his head and ridges on the body.
There is a seahorse template here if you need to refer to it for the shape. It will need to be enlarged.
Click here* to find a good description of their anatomy.
Use masking tape to hold the shape together. More newspaper pieces will have to be crumpled together, to build out the body. (Especially in the stomach area, which bulges out.)
Make sure to keep the form you start with, smaller than what you want the finished size to be. This one should have been a bit thinner through the nose and the tail.
Use tinfoil to build out the nose shape.
Keep this quite thin, to give room to build it up with the layers of newspaper. Oh, and don't forget the nostrils. I have a confession... I forgot them.
Tear strips of newspaper and dip in the paste and apply to the form. Add three to four layers and then let this dry. When this has dried, add a couple more layers. Let it dry.
Check for thin spots and add more layers where necessary. When you squeeze the paper mache seahorse, it should not squish in.
With scissors, make a small slit in each side of the face, just back and up, from where the cheek would be. (If a hippocampus had cheeks, that is.)
Now make another slit, this time in the back of the seahorse. Cut two wires 2.5 inches and two that are 2 inches in length.
Glue in place with the shorter one first, then the two longer ones and then the shorter one.
Do holes in the top of the head and insert three wires that are 1 inch in length.
Rip pieces of newspaper into long strips that are about 2 inches wide. Dip in the paste, remove excess. Hold the strip of paper on one end and start turning and twisting it. Twist it together so it is almost rope like. Start applying these horizontally, around the body, from the neck all the way down to the end of the tail.
Space about 1 inch apart.
Twist more pieces of newspaper and run pieces up the sides, this time vertically. One ridge should be about 1.5 inches from the back and another, 1.5 inches over from that. They should join together at the bottom, right where the tail starts. One ridge should continue down the side of the tail.
Add a ridge to the front, but this time, don't twist the newspaper quite so tight.
Poke the wires that are on the back of the paper mache seahorse, through newspaper strips and push the paper all the way down. Add enough to build up a slight ridge on the back.
Let this dry.
Covering the fins is my favorite part of this project.
Mix up 1 part water and 3 parts white glue, in a small container. Rip a piece of light yellow tissue paper, big enough to cover the fin you are working on. Apply glue mixture to the tissue paper using a paint brush.
Lay the tissue paper across the wires. Gently pat down the tissue paper with the paint brush, so it is sticking to the wire.
Don't touch this with your fingers or the tissue paper will rip.
Fold any extra length of tissue paper on the sides over to the back. Do NOT fold over the top. Leave it extending past the top of the wires. This will be trimmed off later.
Don't worry about any wrinkles. (My new motto for growing older!) Wrinkles are fine, but make sure to try to get out any air bubbles.
Add one layer of light yellow tissue paper to each side of the wires.
Apply more glue mixture.
Add three layers of orange tissue paper, to each side.
Do all the fins the same way. Let this dry and then add another two layers.
When this has dried, cut a scalloped edge into all of the fins.
Poke holes in the head for the eyes, using either pliers or scissors.
That looks like it should hurt! Don't worry, it didn't. I never felt a thing.
Use jewelry glue to attach a small black half bead to the center of a brown pony bead. Make two. These will be the eyeballs.
Use hot glue to put them in. They should only be set down into the holes, slightly.
Apply one layer of yellow tissue paper over the paper mache seahorse.
Yes, wrinkles are good, they will add extra texture to the piece BUT I'm talking about the kind of wrinkles like maybe Grandma has. NOT Great, Great Grandma. Don't fold over the edges of tissue paper on itself. This will make large, deep creases, that you don't want. Each piece that is added should have the edges blend nicely with the rest.
Always pat down the tissue paper with the paint brush, working out any air bubbles. Add more glue mixture to the paint brush, if the paper is sticking to the brush.
Do two layers of orange tissue paper. Crinkle and build it up a bit, around the beads that you used for the eyes. Let dry.
Add more layers if the newspaper underneath is still showing. Let this dry.
Mix up 1 part black paint and 3 parts water for blackwashing. Apply to the paper mache seahorse. As soon as you have covered one side, wipe off with a damp cloth. Wipe gently, so you don't damage the tissue paper. Now turn it over and do the other side.
Dry brush on a small amount of copper paint, then gold.
The blackwashing adds color to the wrinkles and creases and the drybrushing highlights the high areas.
After this has dried, apply three coats of spray sealer.
I am happy with the way this turned out. The tissue paper technique not only makes a nice texture, there is also not much painting to do. The blackwashing and dry brushing are only to make the details more visible.
This actually looks pretty good without painting it at all. Skip the painting altogether, if you wish.
This paper mache seahorse would be a great addition to any beach themed room.
Return to top of page: Paper Mache Seahorse
Featured Craft of the Month
How to Make a Pillow for Fathers Day.