Delving Into Paper Maché: Mexican Alebrijes

Ever since I was 5 years old, I was mesmerized by the vivid colors and patterns from my Mexican paper maché figurines called “Alibrijes” (pronounced: al-eh-bree-hess). The first alebrije I purchased was when I went to Puebla, it was this little monster that was meshed to look like a frog with a fish head, dragon wings, a snake tail, and ferocious claws. It caught my attention because of the vibrant and colorful patterns on it. My second alebrije was less colorful, a yellow striped ant, but I couldn’t walk away from it because I’m infatuated with insects.

My First Alebrija
My first alebrije, made by unknown artisan in Puebla, Mexico.

Needless to say, at a very young age I wanted to learn how to create these paper maché beauties just like my first alebrije. There a two different types of alebrijes, there’s wooden carved and paper maché, both are equally beautiful, however with paper maché you can give your alebrijes a more interesting texture as apposed to the smooth finishes that wood will give you. Alebrijes come in all shapes and sizes, from super tiny to those as big as a two-story house!

As more and more tourists go visit Mexico, I’ve noticed that these intricate alebrijes that I’ve been collecting, are starting to pop-up here in the US. I ended up purchasing some when I was in Orlando, Florida, and two other alebrijes when I went with my husband to Seattle, Washington. Not to mention that they got a pretty huge come-back when the movie Coco came out. *Side note: Alebrijes have no ties with being spirit animals nor do they play a part in día de los muertos as this movie suggests.*

I digress, it took a lot of years with a lot of practice, some trial and error, and really getting the right mixture and recipe for my paper maché base, but I was finally able to make my alebrijes. So far I have made two, the first one is 10 inches tall, and the second stands at 5 inches. Thus begins the start of my new series named “Tali-brijes”, a play-on term that combines my nickname “Tali” and “Alebrijes”.

Both of these alebrijes were made by Viva La Doves. Series known as “Talibrijes”.

I will be putting out a tutorial video soon on the step-by-step on how to make these alebrijes. However, if you can’t wait for the tutorial video to come out, I have a free eBook containing my paper maché recipe and guide for how to create alebrijes. Simply fill out the form below and a link will be sent to your email. Believe me, it’s all in the recipe. I’ve tried so many, but some recipes wouldn’t allow the paper maché to stick properly or some recipes allowed for mold to grow (nasty!). Other tutorials that I’ve found online don’t show you all the tools you’ll need for this type of craft so they are not of much help.

Below are the materials that I used in creating my alebrijes, and these are the materials that I will be referring to in my step-by-step PDF instructions. Click on the images and it’ll take you directly to the Amazon page to purchase. This way it leaves out all the guess-work on your end, and you’ll be using exactly what I used.

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