when ships and dioramas collide (the paper mache ship pattern is in print!)

And collide in the best way,  in the you got peanut butter on my chocolate way.

In the two weeks leading up to the squam diorama class I spent a lot of time playing with old paper and planning for the class as well as finishing up the brand new print version of the large paper mache ship.  Old paper is interesting. There was lots of it in France. I’ll tell you about that trip soon, it was a giant experience that has not even solidified as a memory yet, just shimmering images (I’m also super jet lagged and kind of dopey).

French General France getaway

My paper interest intensified with the things I collected for the Squam Diorama Class. I love collecting things for that class and happened upon a couple incredible collections of old paper in the last year.

I have mostly dealt with the surface of my paper mache ships in the same way for a very long time. I like soft, often neutral, washes of color with newsprint showing through. I liked the moodiness and spareness of it and still do but I was wanting something different all of a sudden.

the gulnare - a ship made from paper mache

I experimented but nothing made me happy. I didn’t land on anything I liked as well or better.  There was all that beautiful paper for the dioramas but I loved it too much to use it,  you know how that is.  And I didn’t think the texture of the old papers would work well for mache. I started playing with little pieces and was surprised how stable the paper was in the paste and how smoothly it layered on the surface, even with a variety of textures and thicknesses. And it works well mixed in with newsprint too.

paper mache ship with antique paper

The more I played the bolder my choices were and color and shapes crept in in a way I had not expected.

paper mache with antique paper

Now my eyes are open for paper all the time. It seems like a connecting tool for me at the moment, an invitation to happy accidents and a little push into new territories. I’m working on some figures now that incorporate it with fabric and stitching as I prepare for the Fall Squam Retreat (more on that soon).

paper mache ship print edition

pattern to create a paper mache ship

paper mache booklet page

P S  Thanks so much to all of you who wished me well on my travels. It was a huge, exciting and daunting thing for me, I have not been on a giant trip in decades. Your thoughts were truly felt and appreciated.


  1. Philippa

    I can just see our little French mice captaining that papier mache boat!

  2. How exciting, Ann! So many adventures happening now, and with more on the horizon. Here’s to a summer of inspiration fueled by endless cups of chamomile tea.

  3. I made the ship several months ago but not finished it with the newspaper layer since I wasn’t “feeling” newspaper. However I have some old Popular Mechanics I am thinking I will use and now can move forward! Thanks for opening up my eyes to other possibilities.

  4. Victoria

    Welcome home Ann!
    Is this Paper Mache Ship print pattern the same as the 57 page pdf?
    The thought of printing out all those pages was daunting. Your samples are so inspiring – they already have given me an idea. I’d better write it down.
    Thank you!

    • Henriet from Holland

      I just used the 57 pages on my computer, without printing anything. Not even the shapes of boat and sails. I taped some sheets of printing paper on the screen and traced the shapes with a soft pencil. Worked a treat!

    • Thanks Victoria! They are different – the 57 page pdf has a a large ship, a small ship and a boat. The print pattern is one large ship. Also for pdf patterns you can read the instructions on a computer tablet or phone and just print the pattern and template sheets.

  5. Dawn Shipley

    Just placed an order for the sailing ship – Hope I made the first twenty and can’t wait to get started as I have already made several of the smaller boats. thanks so much – your work is an inspiration – cheers from down under Dawn.

  6. Have been reading your blog for a while now and always love these ships (and the owls and the mice and the birds…). I’ll let you know how mine turns out…

  7. Alice Tribuzi

    Just ordered the sailing ship pattern even though I purchased the PDF . I had to have the booklet.If you read this could you sign it for me. Love your creations regards Alice.

  8. when ships and dioramas collide, Have been reading your blog for a while now and always love these ships (and the owls and the mice and the birds

  9. Love this site – and all the ideas! Funny you should have included ships just now. Having read out The Owl and the Pussy Cat at my son’s wedding recently, I thought I’d make them an owl, cat and peagreen boat for Christmas!

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