How To: Make A Christmas Paper Pets Penguin

by Cass Art

Looking to keep the little one’s entertained for a few hours? We’ve found the perfect pet to keep them occupied (without the need for walks or trips to the vets!)

Paper Pets offer a menagerie of papier mache creatures made by artist Emma Leith. They come in packs so you and your family can enjoy creating and decorating the creatures together. As well as penguins, there are cats, owls, pigs, sheep, dogs and cows, so take your pick!

Read on for the step by step tutorial by Emma Leith herself, for the ultimate guide on how to create the Paper Pets Penguin. 


- The Paper Pets Kit
- A glass to hold the inflated balloon in position
- A small bowl to mix the paste
- A pair of scissors to cut out the templates 

STAGE 1 - Preparing your Penguin

Cut out your templates and put them to one side for later. 

Balloon in glass 

Tear some old newspaper into small pieces.

Mix a little of the paste with some water (about a teaspoon to 100ml water) and dip the news paper into the paste and cover the balloon. 

It's a good idea to build up at least 5 layers of paper all over your balloon so that it is nice and solid once it's dried. The thicker the layers the longer it will take to dry but the easier it will be to apply the templates!

Balloon papier mache

Now you need to let all of this dry. This can take several days depending upon where it is placed and how many layers there are.

STAGE 2 - Fixing the templates to the body

Once your balloon is completely dry, the next step is to apply the templates to the body by fixing them in place using the self adhesive tabs.

Cut your self adhesive tabs into strips. 

 Self adhesive tabs

Begin with the feet and tail template by folding along the dotted line.

 Fold along the dotted line

Using a self adhesive tab, stick the tail together as shown.

Feet & tail tab 

The paper can appear a bit wrinkly once it's dried. this is completely normal and will disappear once you have applied more layers of paper mache to the model.

Position the body onto the feet and tail template, making sure the tail rests against the base of the balloon body.  

Feet on the penguin 

Notice the fatter end of the balloon forms the base of the body; the thinner is the penguin's head.

Gently press the body onto the feet and tail template so that the balloon flattens very slightly. This helps the penguin stand up straight (although there is nothing wrong with a wonky penguin!) 

Feet on the penguin
Fix the tail and feet template into position using long strips of the adhesive tabs.

Feet with tabs 

Next you need to take the beak template and join A to B. Try to avoid folding it with a crease.


Secure A to B of the beak using the adhesive tabs. 

See how the two edges are joined creating a curved beak template. 


Using the adhesive tabs, fix the beak to the ballon to create the head. Repeat the process for the wings, too. 

Now your Paper Penguin is really starting to take shape.

Paper Pet Penguin 

Once both wings and the beak are secured with the self adhesive tabs, dip strips of newspaper into the paste and paper over the templates. Use long strips of newspaper dipped in paste, and this will successfully secure the templates to the body.

TOP TIP: If the body part gets too wet from the freshly applied paste you may find it goes soft and collapses slightly under your fingers. If this happens, stop what you are doing and allow the model to dry before continuing.  

Papier mache strips
Apply the long strips of pasted paper across the feet and up onto the body.

Carefully lift the wings and apply pasted paper to the underside fixing the wing template to the body.  You can use a wire rack to sit the paper pet on whilst it dries. 

Wing up in the air

Keep layering the paper mache over the model building it up bit by bit and then allow it to completely dry before continuing onto the final stage.  This may take several days.

STAGE 3 - Applying the finishing paper 

The final part of the papier mache process is to apply the white finishing paper.  

White paper

Tear small pieces and, as before, dip them into the paste and apply to your paper pet. Using your fingers, gently smooth each piece of finishing paper to ensure an even finish. This helps make the final coat neat and tidy, ready for painting.

Paper pet covered in white

Once an even coat of finishing paper has been applied to your Paper Pet and you are happy that all the newspaper has been covered, set it aside to dry. This will take at least 24 hours.  

Once dry, your Paper Pet is ready to decorate! You can use the paints provided as well as experiment with other paints, glitters, feathers, and paper, so.have fun and get creative.

Paper Pet Penguin

Feeling inspired?

You can buy your own Paper Pet, including the Penguins, here

Share your Paper Pets on Twitter tagging @CASSART and using the hashtags #PaperPets and #MakeChristmas. 

Find out more about Emma Leith, her work, Paper Pets and workshops, on her website

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