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Papier-Mache Tin Can Music Box Doll

Derek Boone creates a papier-mache tin can music box doll.

Derek Boone loves to entertain his children, and that's how he came to make his special music box. He wanted to make a toy for his kids that incorporated music and doll figures.

Materials and Tools:

tuna can with the lid
music box mechanism
4 packages molding clay
petroleum jelly
newspaper, mixing container, whisk, water
wheat paste
utility knife
white glue
power drill
two-part epoxy glue
spray primer
glue gun and hot glue sticks
12- and 28-gauge wire
rust, red, brown, gold, green and purple acrylic paint
jingle bell
wire cutters
needle-nose pliers

Step 1


1. Condition the molding clay by kneading it with your hands.

  • Shape the clay into the face for the doll figure by creating cheekbones with balls of clay smoothing with your fingers.
  • Shape a nose with a snake of clay smoothed between the cheekbones.
  • Push eye sockets into the clay on either side of the nose above the cheeks.
  • Shape additional clay to form a pointed hat at the top of the head. Let dry.

Step 2

2. Shape a separate piece of clay into the body of the doll figure. Create the legs and arms with clay snakes. Attach them to the body. Let the clay dry.

Step 3

3. To prevent the papier-mache from sticking to the clay doll form, smear the clay head and the body with petroleum jelly.

Step 4

4. Tear strips of newspaper for the papier-mache.

Step 5

5. Mix the wheat paste with water to the consistency of thick cream. Dip the strips of torn newspaper into the paste and apply them to the head and body of the clay pieces until they are covered. Let dry for 24 hours.

Step 6

6. Using a utility knife, cut through the papier-mache around the head and body, slicing each in half. Remove the clay from inside the papier-mache.

Step 7

7. Join the two halves of the papier-mache head together using white glue. Attach the two halves of the papier-mache body together using white glue. Let dry.

Step 8

8. Remove the housing from the music box mechanism and use it as a template to measure the location of the screw holes on the tuna can.

Steps 9-10

9. Drill holes in the bottom of the tuna can. Attach the music box mechanism to the inside of the tuna can using screws attached through the drilled holes.

10. Re-attach the lid to the tuna can using two-part epoxy glue. Follow the manufacturer's directions for mixing the epoxy. Let dry.

Step 11

11. Coat the papier-mache head; body and tuna can with spray primer. Let dry.

Step 12

12. Draw facial features on the papier-mache doll figure face with a pencil.

Step 13

13. Paint the doll head; body and tuna can with various colors of acrylic paint. Let the paint dry.

Step 14

14. Screw extenders and a turnkey onto the music box mechanism through the top of the tuna can.

Step 15

15. Cut a length of heavy 12-gauge wire and bend it into an armature that will attach the papier-mache doll figure to the top of the music box extender. Wrap the wire around the body.

Step 16

16. Wrap the other end of the wire around the top of the extender. Attach a jingle bell to the top of the hat with small gauge wire. Glue yarn around the neck for a collar.

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