There are many variations on materials and methods of doing paper mache. I've always seen it revolve around pasting scraps/strips/patches of paper to some sort of support/armature with watered down glues.
support: you can use pretty much anything so long as it is fairly sturdy and can accept wet paper being placed on top of it (generally non absorbent). I've seen water jugs, wire mesh, balloons, and custom armatures used before. Judging by the scale of your project you may want to use a wire mesh like chicken wire or something with a finer mesh more tailored to armature making. Whatever you decide on make sure it can handle the water from the paper mache and also the weight of it, because it can be heavy before it dries.
papers: Again, you can use just about anything so long as it is flexible and absorbent. Make sure the paper is not too flimsy when wet (like tissue paper, which is just plain annoying to deal with) and fibrous enough to cling to other papers. Newspaper is a common choice and really works great.
glues: Pretty much any water based glue is fine. In elementary school we used watered down wall paper paste. I personally use watered down elmers school glue. A 1:1 ratio works well with that stuff. just don't water it down too much to where the paper doesn't stick after it's dry, because that would be a problem.
paints: ANYTHING, pretty much. Acrylics are always good, though tempera works fine too, you just wont be able to get it wet. Hey you may even want to use spray paint, at least for a base color/coat. In my experience acrylics and spray paint have a tendency to stick to things and consequently lose some of the paint, especially in hot/humid environments like Florida. If you use those paints you may want to use some sort of sealer over them.
>>build the armature/support
>>paper mache over it. Dip the paper piece in water/glue and remove excess (usually run it between two fingers) and apply. Smooth the edges to the other paper its on so it will dry to it. Try to do only one layer or so at a time and give your layers the appropriate time to dry before going back. You don't want to end up with a mushy mess. Usually you want at least three layers.
>>detail work and paint
Get creative to. You can incorporate practically anything with paper mache and do lots of things with it.
Way back when I made a paper mockingbird and detailed my process, which you may find useful/insightful.http://www.craftster.org/forum/index.php?topic=100665.msg954106#msg954106
There is also another method which involves making a sort of paper pulp mixed with glues, and that may be what you had in mind, but I'm not familiar with that approach.