Paper Mache Animals

Daily Sculptors Group Page

Paper Mache ChihuahuaWant to show off your paper mache creations and join the conversation with other sculptors? This is a great place to post a photo of your recent work.

You’re also welcome to share some of the challenges and insights that you gained from your sculpture, even if it isn’t quite finished yet. Need some advice on how to get through a sticky section of your project? Just ask – someone will be sure to offer an idea you might be able to use.

There’s a size limit for photos to keep the page from loading slowly. If your images are too big, and if the photo is on your computer, you can resize it quickly using this free online picture resizer.

If the photo is on your phone, try the tips in this article. Note – some phones show you an image right-side-up, but they’re really sideways or upside down. Check your phone’s user’s guide to see how to upload a photo so it can be viewed correctly on a web page.

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8,212 Comments

  • Warthog #2. Any suggestions are welcome or any kind.

    After I finished it last night, I began working on Jez again (a friend’s dog). For you following that saga, I deeply apologize. Suspense ought to be what is going to happen in the next second, not in three years.

    Thanks to everyone. Shelbot, you can mark this off your spreadsheet!

  • While trying to finish another warthog, I got side-tracked on a bird project. My neighbor was showing me a bird she started, and I brought it home. I wanted to try making feet for it and used armature wire to make a “saddle” across the front of the bird. The one foot got thick because of wrapping the heavy wires together to form the toes. I used paper and starch on that foot. On the other foot (the right one) I decided to make the toes out of SuperSculpey. I don’t know if they toes will hold up. In any case, I added wings, a tail, and a beak. I took it back to her for painting this morning. I know people have talked about making bird’s feet in the past, but if someone has any suggestions for me, I would appreciate it. I really want to make the bird stand on its feet and not break when I look at it. Thanks.

    • Rex, it looks to me like you have feet that will stand on their own. Which method did you prefer – the paper strips or the Sculpey? And have you ever borrowed some of Cathy’s epoxy clay to make narrow things like bird feet? I haven’t tried that yet myself.

      • The paper strips were around the “lower leg” and where the feet joined together. Even though in the beginning I knew nothing but paper strips, I love clay a lot more. Cathy uses SuperSculpey. She says she is buying a #3. I made the right bird’s foot out of Sculpey, and a little tiny bit broke off when I was probably pressing too hard to see if it would stand. I put a little air-dry clay on it, and hopefully it won’t break off.

        Cathy swears by a mixture of the air-dry clay and SuperSculpey. She mixes them until the clay feels right. You can’t bake the clay, but she cooks them in a double boiler. One took an hour to cook, and you have to watch it cook so it doesn’t overcook. She has made a number of octopi. I must take photos. The ones she made out of SuperSculpey cracked and broke off. (She doesn’t have that problem with other projects.) She says the mixture of clays is very strong and don’t break.

        As I looked at photos of budgies (parakeets), the toes seem to have a larger portion on the ground that my “pointy” ends. I don’t think I’ve answered your question, but I prefer working with the air-dry clay, and I don’t trust SuperSculpey on its own. I think I need to try another set of feet with the toes more horizontal because that would give me a bigger base.

    • Rex, the wings, tail and beak look great. Your bird’s feet look better than my raven’s feet. Used pipe cleaners, but bird feet aren’t supposed to be fuzzy : ). I did clip some of the fuzz off, but they’re never going to look good. On the up side…they won’t break. I know there are tutorials on making bird feet. I can research it later, if you like.
      Let’s see if this is the raven…

      • Shelbot, were the pipe cleaners strong enough to get your raven to stand on his own? (Nice bird, by the way. Great details, and he seems to have a lot to say.)

        • Jonni, you’re acquainted with my moronitude. AFTER I posted the comment, I actually looked at the pic (and then the sculpture) and realized only two toes on each foot is pipe cleaner. The legs and middle toe (he doesn’t have back toes) is part of a wire clothes hanger. My sincerest apologies to you, Rex and whoever else might have thought I knew what I was talking about. I have used pipe cleaners for legs/arms before, and they did hold up, but there are a lot of variables.
          Thank you : ) but you know he can’t compare to your Raven.

          • Now I see what you’re doing – you’re using the strong wire for support, and the light pipe cleaners for the extra toes. But you get your raven to balance, even without the true support of the side toes? That’s pretty impressive. Getting two-leggeds to balance is a big challenge.

            • Jonni, yes, that’s what I did, but in retrospect, it was pretty stupid. You are correct that the way the legs are positioned, he did not even need toes to balance.
              Speaking of impressive, I watch your videos every day and I learn something new every time. I am only just beginning to truly appreciate the time and effort you put into all of your art, videos and books.

            • Shelbot, there has to be a great idea behind all of your doing. Maybe an armature wire would not have to go down every toe but only as a main stem and put small wires (pipe cleaners, ???) for the side toes. That is sounding like something to work on. What I really need to do now is experiment and keep a lab notebook. (All of my “stuff” is in Jonni’s book on making animals, and I lost it the other day and was going crazy. Eventually I found the book in with the tote I keep the newspaper and foil in!)

            • Yes, Shelbot, I understand. A few years ago I watched Jonni make the air-dry clay video five times. It’s not that it wasn’t perfectly understandable, logical, and clear, but that it took that many times to sink in. The part that switched the switch for me was when I saw her pinching the clay, and now when I knead my clay, I get it to that point where I can “mold” it. It does become a matter of feel.

      • Shelbot, that is one awesome raven. What attitude. I must say that for three days in a row Teca has played with two ravens in a field where she runs. The first day was sort of a standoff; Teca would chase them and they would circle. By day three it was obviously a game. The ravens circle over her, land, circle her, land, and she’s running back and forth. I love seeing it. Anyway, what you have here is better than anything I have imagined.

        I haven’t seen a pipe cleaner in 30 years, but if they hold up the bird, couldn’t you burn off the fuzz? (A suggestion I probably shouldn’t make!)

        That is such a great bird. Thanks.

        • Sir Rex, you have the best stories.
          I’m old school, but some people call (what I call) pipe cleaners chenille stems. And, as I admitted earlier, I’m a derp. The only part that was pc were the two outside toes. The way the legs are bent, pc might have worked, though. Not sure.
          Think it would smell awful (could do it outside), but the burning off fuzz idea sounds genius to me!
          Thank you.

    • Rex,
      The only birds I have done to stand alone were ones with bigger, webbed typed feet like geese and ducks. For the smaller birds, I will plant them on a branch. I use the wire like you did, making a saddle and make it 1/2″ to 3/4″ longer than I need- that is the part that gets planted onto the branch into a drilled hole filled with epoxy glue. To make the feet, I get the thinnest wire available, make the 3 front and 1 hind toe and tape it where I need it to be. Then I usually use the paper/starch method to cover in order to keep them as thin as possible. They turn out rather sturdy but I don’t know if it would hold up to being moved around and full weight bearing. With mine, I move the branch or base, not the actual bird. Don’t know if this helps.

      • Thanks so much, Eileen. I believe it was Carl Sandburg who wrote when it come to love that it all helps. (I can’t remember the line now, but it was memorable!)

        After the feet were dry, they were not quite even, so I added a very tiny bit of clay on the claw part and then pressed down to flatten the feet. That may have been when I broke the end off the toe. I’m not sure.

        I appreciate the insight and helpful suggestions. What are you working on?

        • I don’t want you to think I had ignored your question. I am finishing up a rabbit family, well sort of. It is a momma eastern cottontail rabbit and 2 babies. I say “sort of a family” because usually they have 6-8 babies in one litter. I was not about to make all those babies though( not like someone we know who makes a whole herd of warthogs!) I just have to put on another coat of varnish, put them on a base, then I will be done. I am happy with the sculpture, every once in a while you get into the “zone” when sculpting and it all goes so smoothly. I love it when that happens, don’t you?

          • Eileen, thanks for the laugh about the warthogs. Believe it or not, I finished my second one last night. It is a daunting task to take a photo and post it, but I’ll see if I can get it done today. (A little sarcasm there.) We had a wonderful walk because the temperatures were around 45, but, of course, the cold wind was blowing. And I do love it when one gets in the zone and everything falls together. I’ve had that happen a couple of times! We saw a couple of bunnies yesterday. Could not be more than a week or so old, cute as they can be. Can’t wait to see yours.

            • I hate to tell you that our weather(in PA) has been super mild this weekend…up to 69! We basically have not had a real winter this year which is driving my son crazy as he does snow removal. It is a bit disconcerting to have it this mild, it is not good for this summer as the soil really needs some good snow and we could have problems with drought as well. Well, sometimes March can be a lion, we will see. Nice warthog, painting and sculpture. I have never seen a warthog in real life, do you have them in your area or are they one of those fascinating creatures that captivate you?

  • Jonni, I will be giving a long, rambling explanation and then will try unsuccessfully to post a picture.
    Wonderful artists and readers, years ago I became enamored of rock painting. The kind where the artist painted, more or less, realistic images, relying on the rock to give the contour of the animals.
    Like https://www.facebook.com/robertorizzoart. Problem was that not only did I have no talent, I also had no (be quiet now) big rocks. So, I took crumpled newspaper, tape, strips of paper and glue to make some. Of course I still didn’t have the talent, but why let that stop me?
    Anyway, I’ll try to show you one piece now and I’d love to know if anyone else paints real or fake rocks. And if you do, please let us see what you have created. Thank you! Pretend there is a picture after this…

    • Shelbot, thank you so much for showing us your ‘rock’ cat. Those eyes are beautifully painted. And we don’t have to pretend we can see the cat – your upload worked just fine.

      • Jonni, The check is in the mail. LOL. But seriously, your praise means the world to me.
        Was going to post another pic, but I’ve already forgotten how. I’ll see if this works. It is another “rock”. This one was covered with fabric before it was painted.

        • Shelbot, that is wonderful, and I love the fur (because that is what I’m focused on at the moment). What type of brush do you use? If I can’t get the fur down, maybe I can blame it on the brush!

          Thanks.

          • Rex, you are very kind, but I’m nowhere near where I would like to be when painting fur. It’s certainly not realistic. My brain can’t quite grasp what I should be doing. I use what ever old ratty brush I happen to grab, usually, but I almost always use a detail brush at some point to pull individual hairs out.
            I love everything you do, and would like to discuss fur painting techniques with you further (see what I did there?), if possible, later on.

    • Shelbot I don’t know why you say you have no talent that is a beautifully painted cat! I also paint rocks and collect rocks (to my children and husband’s dismay). The kids like painting with me but of course when I steal rocks from the river I’m crazy lol I grew up in a very rural area on the river so I like to decorate my garden and anywhere I can with rocks because I miss it so much. I’ve never taken any pictures of mine, maybe I will try if the sun ever decides to shine.

    • Shelbot, either fake or not, your rock cat is gorgeous. Talent is not that definable is a quantifying form. It comes in different packages and shapes and yours is one of them. The expression alone is priceless and as Jonni said those eyes are beautifully painted.

      • Christine, You and Carrie H. will be going on my People I Love list. Thank you so much for your wonderful comments.

    • Shelbot, I have rocks all over the yard and in the house. I have two neighbors who paint rocks, but I haven’t yet tried it.

      Your painting ability is remarkable and I’m sending all my warthogs to you for completion. I would be very happy with a painting like your cat. Thanks.

      • Sir Rex, send on the warthogs! But you know I’m gonna keep ’em. Everything I can remember that you have posted looked beautiful to me, so pretty sure that I couldn’t do as good or better.
        Please do some rock painting and show us (when you have time).
        How are you and all the furbabies? Miss you when you don’t post for a while.
        Thanks a lot for the compliment, means a lot. (You were already on the list)

        • Teca has been killing me. She now needs to walk twice a day for an hour-and-a-half each! I trod along and she’s running at 20 miles an hour through fields and sagebrush and digging for moles. I saw five a couple of days ago. The little dog next door now has to go with us. She spends 4-6 hours here a day. Between catching my breath, I experimented with Cathy’s bird. I apologized to her, of course, but it was interesting. A warthog is almost done. You know, you get to a point where the project needs to be finished, whether or not it is!

          Cathy gave me a painted gourd today. I’ll have to take photos of it and share. It’s not a rock, but it is beyond astounding. An underwater scene.

          • Sir Rex, maybe Teca thinks you need the exercise, but I don’t know how you do it. Hope she never actually catches a mole, though. My memory is so bad…don’t laugh…but is the little dog next door named Buttercup?
            Did Cathy not want you to experiment with the bird? You’re welcome to experiment on any of my sculptures.
            I’m waiting for the warthogs, BTW, and I really want to see the gourd.

            • Dueling Partner, the little critters here are called “Quimps.” I don’t know where that name came from. They are cute little things. Loki used to catch one on occasion, and I always apologized to the little thing. He would proudly carry them all the way home. They are a little larger than a mouse.

              Buttercup is the Beagle that Teca rescued. They tie her up now so she can’t wander, which is painful for me. Bella is the small dog that comes over to play with Teca daily.

              Just for you I took photos of the gourd today. I’ll attach them. This is the largest gourd that I think she painted. I have four photographs because apparently this gourd has four sides instead of two. You’ll understand when you see the photos. Jonni, sorry for posting so many photos not paper mache. I am really overcome by this gift. I’ll have to make her 20 birds as a down payment.

            • Whoa! That is one spectacular gourd. Good Sir, thank you for showing it, post haste. And your pictures are so clear. Really beautifully done.
              Among the million other projects, will you be making a “Quimp”?
              My apologies to Bella and Buttercup. Does Buttercup have shelter and water, etc. where she is tied? I hope she is well cared for.
              Thanks again, Rex. Always a pleasure.

        • Ty shelbot I make things just to give away .but my fairy and bakery guys are still in my room someday they will find a home .

          • Cindy, I just now found your comment. Did you show us your fairy and bakery guys? I think so, but I can never remember all the fantastic art here, but I know that you do quality work. Do you choose not to sell or can you not find the right venue for your pieces?

    • Very nice rock painting Shelbot! I agree with Jonni that you did a marvelous job on the eyes. I have never tried a rock but I knew a woman who did mostly inspirational rocks. She gave me one when I was a teen and it is still displayed in my home. I checked out the website you gave and that artist is amazing isn’t he? I wonder how acrylics hold up while on a rock? I don’t know what my rock is painted with and the dear woman that gave it to me has passed away.

      • Eileen, on the love list, you go.
        Yes, his paintings are fantastic. He, like our Jonni, produces fine art. I’m just an old folk artist. I’d like to improve my skills, but if I don’t, I’m okay with that.
        I use acrylics almost exclusively and I think they would hold up well, but there’s always a big chance that I am wrong. Many seem to coat with polyurethane in any event.
        Maybe someone here could suggest a way to tell what kind of paint was used on your rock.
        Thank you very much, Eileen.

  • I wish I had found your site before I made my dragon. This dragon was the first model I made with paper mache., but she would have been better if I had seen our helpful videos first.
    Now that you have inspired me, I want to make another one sometime. Although I am moving away from paper mache and trying out a new material, invented here in New Zealand. It is called Pal Tiya and it is a powder, which becomes like clay when mixed with water, but sets solid, like concrete with no firing. It is totally outdoor friendly.

    • Your dragon is great, Arty Vicky. I like the way she’s been painted, and the way she’s carrying on a conversation with us. And I see on your Facebook page that she has teeth, too. Thanks for sharing. I also saw the bird you made with Pal Tiya, and it’s beautiful. I know some of our readers have put in pre-orders for the product, but it’s taking a lot of time for theor production to come online here in the States. If you would ever want to write a guest post for this blog to show us how you sculpt with the product, I know a lot of us would be very interested. I’ve been watching Kim’s videos for years, but I’ve never seen how other people use it. If that sounds like something you might have time to do, just let me know.

      • Thank you for kind comments. I originally covered her in gilding flakes, from the scrap-booking shop. She looked wonderful, but I decide to varnish them to protect the finish and they all turned black. So then I had to paint her with metallic paints.
        I am hoping to get round to doing a pal tiya video on my You Tube channel. I’ll try and remember to let you know when I do. I thought it might be good to have a video out there from a beginner rather than an expert.

        • I’ve been checking out all the fun products made for scrap-booking myself. Even though your product didn’t act the way you wanted it to, your dragon still came out beautifully in the end. We definitely need a Pal Tiya vid from a beginner – I look forward to seeing it.

      • Arty Vicky, that is a terrific dragon. As Jonni points out: he has teeth! I hope everyone checks him out. And your seascape is beautiful with an amazing fish. Thank you for showing us. More please.

        • Thank you. Yes her teeth and tongue are actually made from polymar clay and glued in.
          I also made up my own paper mache recipe, without reading other ones first, so it was very simple and consists of just toilet paper and P.V.A. glue. I soaked the rolls of paper in water, then pulled out the inner cardboard, I whipped it with an electric beater while it was still full of water and then strained and squeezed the water out through a net curtain. Then I mixed in one tablespoon of glue for each roll of paper. It took ages to dry, but it is very strong and economical.

            • Arty Vicky, although I had seen her teeth/tongue when I visited your cool Facebook page, I’m glad you posted the pic here. The more pix of wonderful art, the better. Thanks, Vicky!

  • Just sharing a fun piece I finally finished, started last winter, then I ran out of steam and it just sat there, made me feel bad every time I looked at it, so got back on it, and tah! tah! done. How many of you all do this too?

      • Maure, I do the part about leaving a sculpture sitting there unfinished, but not the getting back on it part. But, Congratulations! Another wonderful piece. May I ask how you come up with your ideas? I keep thinking of that awesome little cat with the red umbrella, but all of your pieces, including your watercolors, are exceptional.

        • Thank you for your kind words. In answer to your question, I don’t always have a real idea in mind, I just think of a subject like say a dog or cat, then I start, the ideas come as I’m working, it seems to get a life of it’s own, and then I just work on it till it says done.

    • Another great piece from you Maure! What I really love about your style is the movement, slugbug!! On your other note of running out of steam on projects, Oh vey, do I ever! Today I finally picked up my chicken I made from Jonni’s book and started one of its varnish coats, and I even picked up a sad kitty mask that has sat on my shelf forever unpainted and did some on that! I think it is the weather here, we had our first sunshine since the first week of November! I just can’t convince myself to do anything when the weather is so gray and sad, but that is what I get for living in Oregon!

      • Carrie, I agree about the connection between sun and creativity. I lived in Portland for years, and finally moved to La Grande to get back to the sun. Now I’m in Minnesota, and it does get cold, but the sun shines on the snow, so it’s all good. But the winter I spent in Fairbanks! Most of it in bed, because I just couldn’t get up the energy to crawl out of it. I don’t know how people manage.

        • I do live in Portland, so depressing here except for the 3 months of summer. I would love to move but as my husband is the breadwinner in the house and he works here at Intel it is pretty much out of the question. I’ll keep my fingers crossed for someday 🙂

      • I know about lack of sun, I lived in New York for many years, every winter I when into depression. Here in Colorado we get a lot more sun in the winter, in my little cottage I work in a loft in the winter, it has a window above me that streams sun onto my workbench and it makes all the difference.

  • So my 10 yr old wanted an elephant for her Valentines box. I modified the directions to make it somewhat smaller. I also used plastic pop bottle and poster board (the thicker trifold one) instead of any wood to lighten it. I left the back open so that treats could go into it! We think it came out amazing, so thanks Jonni for the information and the idea!!

    • Hi Abby. We would love to see the Valentine’s box – what a great idea! But the image was too big so it wasn’t attached to your comment. I hope you can edit the image to make it smaller, and try again. The links in the post above the comments might help.

  • Jonni, I think I messed up. I wrote a comment on your Boer Goat site and it said I sent a duplicate. I’m confused (which is nothing new)?

    • Hi Joey. I got the comment on the other page, unless you intended to post two of them? Perhaps you hit the submit button twice? I get the duplicate error message sometimes, too, but I’ve never understood exactly why. Technology is a mystery …

      • Heavy finger I guess. Your painting skills are just so spot on and looks so realistic. I can’t wait to see the kitty. I’d love to learn your technique in doing eyes. I always struggle. Anyone else out there struggle with eyes? Joey – Brandon, FL

        • Trust me, we all struggle with eyes. We’re trying to paint a transparent item on an opaque base, and it’s really hard to make them look realistic. I do have a video about painting dog eyes that might help, but I’m sure turtle eyes look entirely different.

    • Tanja, did you try to upload a photo? It didn’t work, but with a story like that, we definitely want to see it. Try editing the image to make it smaller, and try again. There are two links in the post above that can help you do that if you don’t have an image editing program.

    • Joey, that’s a really good looking (sea?) turtle so far. Is that a mache vase and crescent you’re working on, too? I know that the pic was meant to show us your turtle, but that entire picture is really pleasing to the eye. Thanks for posting.

      • Hi Shelbot, Thank you for your kind words and yes the vase is my first attempt at paper mache. Wow was it messey. I’m experimenting, there is a metal vase wrapped in cling wrap under the paper mache. I used a razor blade knife a cut a line on each side and removed the vase last night. Now I will try to glue and paste the incisions and paint. The Crescent moon is the man in the moon, my first flat backed project wall hanging.

        • Joey, messy, but definitely worth the effort. Please show us each of the sculptures when then are finished, or pix as you go through more of the process. Thank you.

          • I definitely will. Since I am just a novice at this art medium, the sea turtle and man in the moon are my first. The vase will be slow to complete since I didn’t make thick enough layers, so when I sliced it off the metal vase armature it is trying to peel apart and Crack in places. It’s going to require TLC. I’ve had a lot of garden work outside I had to do so I just put a coat of gesso on the turtle and moon today. Thank you for your interest in my work. Everyone on this blog are very nice and truly interested.

  • Jonni – This is my first time trying to send a photo or comments. Just wanted to ask everyone if they have several projects going at the same time. I like to have at least 3 so as one is drying another is ready for clay or painting. Here is my first full size animal and my first attempt at paper mache.

    • Hi Joey. Your image didn’t come through. You may need to use one of the links at the top of the page to help you make it smaller. Each image needs to be less than 250k.

      I’m currently working on two projects, and another one sitting there that I’m supposed to be working on. I’m not very good at multitasking, but we do have some folks who have many projects, all going at the same time. I don’t know how they do it.

      I do hope you’ll try again with your photo.

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