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Papier-mâché Enchanted Tiki Room Drummer Gods, Ngendei, Hina-Kaluua and Maui

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A few days after returning from "the DL" the Pele statue I'd had shipped arrived by mail. She needed a friend, so I was staring at the empty cardboard box and packing paper, and inspiration struck.

How I made it:

I printed out reference photos of the Tiki Room Drummer God on 8.5x11" paper, cut out a side view, and traced it onto multiple sheets of cardboard. I cut the cardboard out, stacked the layers together, trimmed down the neck and waist (etc), then taped them together. I coated it with papier-mâché - flour and water mixed to the consistency of heavy cream, and used strips of the brown packing paper. Then set it in the sun to dry:

It looked a little rough, but the prototype was supposed to appear carved from wood, so I figured that was okay. I learned on Wikipedia that you can sand papier-mâché so I did a little smoothing.

Base coat of brown ("burnt umber") acrylic paint:

I painted the details on both sides then added cracks:

The colors looked too bright - my son made a quip about hot dogs. :(

I went back in and weathered it: painted over the details with brown then immediately wiped it off.

I thought this looked acceptable. I used a plastic food storage tub as the drum, lined the inside with aluminum foil, used parchment paper as a diffuser for the drum skin, and stuck in a flickering LED tea light.

He's obviously (and intentionally) much smaller than the drummers in the ETR (or the copies that now go for terrifically high prices). He'll end up on a high shelf, and we can call it "forced perspective". Here he is with a common household object for scale:

[ Edited by: Joshua Bell 2014-02-22 22:03 ]

[ Edited by: Joshua Bell 2014-03-01 13:44 ]

[ Edited by: Joshua Bell 2014-03-08 14:01 ]

[ Edited by: Joshua Bell 2014-07-06 23:45 ]

[ Edited by: joshua bell 2014-09-04 21:08 ]

That's a pretty good representation and a heck of a lot cheaper than buying one off Ebay.

Good job!

Very nice JB. Nice step-by-step too.


Wow, looks great!


looks great, thanks for all the info.

JB. That is a very nice piece! I like working with paper mache. Are you adding plenty of salt to your flour mixture?
It’ll keep little critters from eating your creation from the inside out. I use a liquid starch to soak the paper in and I found out that the critters will eat that too if you don’t add lotsa salt-lotsa, lotsa salt!
Keep posting your art.

Wonderful project, you did a nice job. Certainly it would look good in any Tiki lounge.


Awesome. Great build out. and perfect material choice for the design! Very cool.

Exactly what everyone else said. You really did a great job and paper mache isn't all that easy to work with. Wendy

Thanks for the encouraging feedback, everyone!

nui 'umi 'umi: Big thanks for the tip about salt! This was the first time I'd made papier-mâché since... probably elementary school. I'll have to watch this guy over time and be prepared to remake him if critters start to nom.

It turned out well enough that I'm thinking of doing a Ngendei next to really match Pele; if I do, I'll take more detailed pictures of the process. And add salt!


Cool! I especially like your solution for the drum!

I like your choice of "common household object" too!

Please post more photos if you continue with other Tiki Room figures!

Very clever... congrats.

Another package arrived. Not Tiki. Well, an Olmec stone head decanter... so only by way of Thor Heyerdahl. But anyway, the empty box was sitting there. Calling to me. And the kids were asleep. So....

I found this nice WED reference photo online and printed it at the appropriate size:

Cut it out, traced it onto cardboard 3 times, cut those out, then started making smaller pieces to bulk out the body. Also made a base and framework for the Earth. Ngendei's profile is a simpler shape than the drummer and he's got much less volume overall but the curves will be less forgiving.

Started assembly:

And completed assembly:

I will probably need to trim under his hands to give that transition a nice edge. Or I may sneak in a cap for the top of the Earth, just under his head.

Elapsed time: 2 hours from printout to posting this.

[ Edited by: Joshua Bell 2014-03-01 13:41 ]


wow great job getting crafty, great job, I may take that lead and make some of these.

On with the papier-mâché - this time with newsprint (packing paper from the box!) with lotsa lotsa salt! Astute observers may note that I added one more bit of cardboard to change his shape - a bit of a tummy!

Is that the glee club on the placemat under the rack? Anyway, Ngendei hadn't dried out all the way overnight...

...and since I'm impatient and it's cloudy here today, into the convection toaster oven to dry:

[ Edited by: Joshua Bell 2014-03-01 13:39 ]

[ Edited by: Joshua Bell 2014-03-01 13:40 ]

Once he was dry I worked him over with a sanding block. That turned up a few areas that were too thin, so I added another layer in places, and then back into the oven to dry overnight. Sanded him again, and called it good:

Base color is burnt umber again:

And then some wood grain. My wife said he looked like he was wearing pin-stripes. The real Ngendei has quite distinct (and regular) cracks, so I did those initially and will come back later and add lighter cracks, if necessary.

Then I started on the colors for his body, which went pretty quickly:

ETRphiles may note that I'm going for a classic color scheme - the real Ngendei is sporting a blueish paint job at the moment, but we thought he'd be a better match for Pele this way.

Next up - the swirly Earth, and then a weathering pass.

Hey JB, Really enjoying this thread. You’re proving to be quite the craftsperson. See if you can use this tip; If your piece is still wet when you call it a night, set it atop the water heater ( mine is in an enclosed space inside the house). Almost certainly dry in the A M.
Keep churning out that goodlooking stuff!

JB,Every piece that I have made is kept indoors.I still use a “finish” on them. Gives em the look of ceramic (glossy) and they are much easier to dust/clean. Also comes in a “matte” finish which I have not used. At most craft stores.

Thanks nui! I have something similar which I used on the Drummer to seal him.

Here's the base painted and a little more wood grain added:

I have him weathered but need to touch it up a bit and put on the finish.

KAHAKA posted on Thu, Mar 6, 2014 7:43 PM

These are neat!! Nice jorb.

Your choice of colors really sets off your art!
Keep posting.


And here he is with a friend:

I am Pele, goddess of fire and volcanoes.
Some say I torment poor Ngendei the Earth-balancer, for when my violent temper rises, the Earth trembles at its foundation.

Legends say I'm balancing the Earth. But sad to say I'm just hanging on!

I'm the one who's really sad, for when I smile it comes out mad!


GREAT job!!
I like the way you aged the paint job at the end.


Really great!

Looking forward to seeing what you come up with next!

cy posted on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 8:08 AM

Very nice JB.

I agree! Very nice! Keep it up

Very cool work, Josh! I love it.


Another build...

This one got started because I was stuck inside on a gorgeous day while the kids napped, and another box had arrived. I started with a skeleton rather than than stacked layers:

Which covered nicely:

And skipping over the painting/weathering steps...

Uh, yes, so far he's just a head on a convenient stand. His drum is in progress, but I want to scale the body to fit the space rather than be exactly the same dimensions as the ETR originals.

BTW, do these guys have names? I casually refer to the ones like ErichTroudt built over in http://www.tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic=34289&forum=5&vpost=710941 as "the witchdoctor" and these as "the bird".

Good job man.

I know you said you were going smaller, but if you need any help with the sizes on his body or drum let me know..the one I built is really close to true scale.

If they have names, I've never seen it... I always just called them the middle drummer...(creative, I know)...

I'm waiting for you to do the tangaroa tree next... complete with "new life forms"...lol


So good! I'm gonna have to try making these someday. Thanks for sharing.


Wow, those are awesome! I mix a little garlic powder in my paiper mache to keep the bugs from eating them.

Time to give the poor guy a body:

ErichTroudt will no doubt notice that I've simplified the shape a fair bit: his legs are straight out, the arm pegs are square, and the neck is much shorter. Once assembled he'll still be taller than Pele, though!

Right now, though, he looks a bit like a frog:

Also, this one's tilted head is provided by a slant on the top of the neck; on the real drummer in the ETR, the head has a wedge underneath to give his awesome visage the right view to ensure the audience is enjoying their Dole Whip.

your awesome work continues!

Really great stuff!

very nice

yeah mine is flat, so I straightened out his legs too....and because my drum was only 2 inches thick I had to tweak his arms at the elbows to go in over the drum instead of more forward.

Look at it this way, if we made them exact like disneys we get a nasty letter..lol

just like me, you've probably got .92 cents in material, and $36 in feathers :wink:

Okay, here he is, with a little mood lighting:

Or more clearly, towering over his supplicant:

I am very happy with how the body paint job turned out. It's again a base of burnt umber, then some subtle highlights of red and blue mixed with the brown, then texturing, weathering, and sealing. I'm also pleased with the paint job on the head.

Straight-on shot:

Critique-ey: when I scaled down the body I didn't scale down the head enough. And then when I was comparing the body shape to the head I thought the neck was too skinny so I made the body wider which makes the neck look too thick. Ah well - I think he's recognizable, which is the main thing.

I may still add the flashing eyes, if I can find the right sequins. And no, his hands don't reach the drums. The arms on the real drummers in the ETR angle in.

For scale, another cameo:

ErichTroudt: Yeah, feathers were spendy! The paints weren't cheap either, since I went to a "real" art store. This particular feather was the best of the lot, but does make him look a bit "emo".

You are so good at this. Talented. This is a really fun thread to watch, Wendy

So the center drummer looks good, but he can't really be a center drummer without drummers on each side. So time to make another drummer god!

Step 1: Print out a picture, trace onto cardboard, and cut out. Over and over and over again.

Step 2: Trim them:

It's easier than it looks. I basically assemble the layers, decide what to cut away, test fit, and repeat. Do one side first, and use it as a template for the other.

Step 3: Assemble!

Yes, I'm doing two! They need to be symmetrical, and there's no way I can perfectly match the one I made before. It was just as easy to make 4 of each piece as it was to do 2. Plus, I can make improvements.

Wow! I am impressed! I have been silently following this thread, but thought I would finally pipe up because your work is so very cool. I loves me some Enchanted Tiki Room and I am pretty much in awe with what you have managed with humble paper mache! Great stuff!!!


These are so fun! Fun to watch them come alive.

Thanks for the kind words and feedback, everyone! It means a lot coming from such talented artists. I'm tempted to enter the Art Swap this time if I can come up with something to make...

Drummer Twins Progress!



Followed by sanding, then another touch-up layer of papier-mâché. Then more drying. Then more sanding.

Base coat:

Wood texture:

This sure is fun to watch. You are so good at this, Wendy

These are so cool!

I love the pic of them sitting there in the window, wet. Looks like they were told they couldn't go outside and play until they dried off.

Thanks for sharing the "how tos"

  • Dale

Almost done with the painting. Here is a comparison between pre-weathering (left) and post-weathering (right).

Yes, the eyes are different - slightly different personalities?

I stuck with the color scheme of the drummers that were sold, although each pair in the ETR has a different complementary scheme.

I need to finish the drums and seal 'em. I'll compare "v2" against the first one I made, and can show the whole drummer family together in our enchanted dining room.

So now that you are almost done with the drummers I think your next project should be making some of the face columns:

6'-8' columns? How hard could it be, right ? :wink:

I like the matching pair--can't wait to see them altogether

Drummers are really looking good!

8' paper mache column....I can't imagine that would be a challenge for you. I agree, we are expecting those to be your next project. :)

  • Dale

On 2014-04-23 11:16, SandraDee wrote:
So now that you are almost done with the drummers I think your next project should be making some of the face columns:

So... tempted...

But on with the show! First off, the grand reveal. Tikis play the drums!

Here are the twins in detail:

The bases are old drawer fronts we had tucked away.

And a comparison with "v1", which was much boxier. I still like his personality, though!

Here they are at home in our "Enchanted Tiki Dining Room", with Quiet Village Radio playing in the background:

Au we ta huala!

You did a fantastic job! Are you going to add faux foliage/greenery/flowers to the space where they are displayed?

I can't wait to see the column get made and displayed in that corner :wink:

You did an amazing job - they're all great and I like the display!

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