Papier-Mâché Sparrows

11-14 year olds | two hours

Make these realistic birds with a bit of attention to detail and a lot of papier-mâché. Requires a tad bit of patience and a lot of creativity!

What You'll Need

  • newsprint
  • paints
  • markers
  • tape
  • empty cereal box
  • 18-gage floral wire, 40 cm long for each bird foot
  • scissors
  • glue, sewing needle, paper towels


1. Tear up newsprint spreads into quarters.
2. With a quarter sheet, crush into a pear shape. You can form the head separately from the body by making a smaller ball and taping it to the pear shape. Alternatively, you can twist a beak shape out of the pear-shaped newspaper and tape the wad together (see photo).
3. Tear paper towels into strips, a little more than a centimetre thick.
4. In a small bowl, pour white glue (school glue works fine) and water; equal amounts of both. Mix well.
5. Dip strips of paper towel into the bowl and coat your newspaper bird shape. Be sure to smooth down strips and press out excess moisture before putting them on the bird. Do not hesitate to do two coats of paper maché.
6. Leave bird to dry.
7. Cut up the cereal box so that the flat cardboard areas are blank side facing up. Draw two wing shapes and one tail shape with a marker for each bird. Teardrop shapes or cones work great for wings and rectangles with flared edges are good for tails (see photo).
8. Cut out these shapes and coat with the same papier-mâché mix.
9. Before they are dry, attach to your bird with more papier-mâché strips (overlap strips on the bird body and cardboard shape, smoothing them down).
10. Curl the wings outward to flare for realism.
11. Leave the bird to dry.
12. After the bird is thoroughly dry, by air-drying or speed-drying with fan or hair dryer, paint it with acrylics.
13. Tip - Look up bird photos online to see what kind of colouring you want your sparrow (or other bird) to have. Paints are great for most areas, but eyes and smaller feather detail may require smaller markers.
14. To make feet, take a 40 cm length of gage wire. Fold it in half and then unfold to find centre. Around the centre, use the wire to form four toes.
15. After the toes, cross the wire and then begin to twist the 2 ends together, forming a thin leg.
16. Trim these feet to reasonable size and bend upward at the ‘knee’.
17. With a sewing needle, poke two holes in the bottom of the papier-mâchéd bird.
18. Put a dab of glue over each hole.
19. Stick legs through glue and hole, securing them.
20. Stand the bird up. Adjust or bend gage wire to make bird stable.
21. Perch on the windowsill and enjoy!

Tags: papier mache, gifts

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