Monday, March 2, 2015

Paper Mache Gothic-Inspired Cathedrals

Over the last couple of weeks we have been working on architecture design- drawing, printing and now over-sized paper mache relief sculptures. This was a feat for us since we only created 7 works, one on each table in the classroom (more about that later).

To begin we watched an amazing NOVA-produced video called the Building the Great Cathedrals. It was a perfect introduction to these engineering marvels. Students were then asked to draw a Gothic style cathedral using a shape tracing method shown in Deep Space Sparkle's Architecture Made Easy PDF. These drawings became our blueprints for how were were going to construct the cardboard and paper mache sculptures.

The plan was to have each table create a cathedral. That's right- one project per table...all day long. As each class came in for the day, whomever sits at that table would continue to add to that work. This was a challenge in itself; we worked the best we could with what was left after each block. However, this turned out to be a very successful large scale project challenge. Not only was it engaging but the transfer of skills from collaboration, to communication to just plain ol' perseverance was hard to ignore. Nice job 7th graders!


  1. Hi there. I love this activity! I'm hoping to try it with my grade 6s (although I think it'll take us until the end of the year).

    I was wondering about a few things:

    1. How much cardboard does each castle need?
    2. What type of paint do you use?
    3. What paper mache recipe do you use?
    4. How do you use the Deep Space Sparkle architecture package when there doesn't seem to be a specific castle plan.

    Sorry for all the questions. I would love if this project worked as well for me as it did for you.


    1. Justin-
      1. Lots of cardboard. We had 4' x 6' pieces...2 for each for sure.
      2. Just tempera
      3. Elmer's Paper Mache Paste (powered mix in boxes)
      4. I used DSS's plans as a guide. I modified it to work for us.

      Good luck! It's a lot of work but fun...

  2. These are wonderful! I wondered if you had just 7th grade all day? Or did you let 8th grade work on them as well?

  3. My 7th grade class is doing this on March 2nd, Wednesday! Nervous and excited!