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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8,604 Comments

    • Your image did work this time. The horns look really big for the size of your buffalo. Are they proportional? Is that why you were worried about the size of the head?

  • Another “blanket” comment or should I say commentary? Reading your blog and seeing all the finished sculptures and the works in progress, I am amazed. I have never attempted to make anything big except that big stuffed dog I told you about, but that was nothing compared to the critters that show up here. Reading all this stuff about horns and heads makes me wonder where all your knowledge comes from. I looked for a bio that might tell me a little about you, but couldn’t find anything. Are you a very private person or could you share a little bit about yourself like where is this little town of 700 people? Did you study animal anatomy? Forgive me if I am being too nosey, but I don’t get to meet many people now and I am curious.

    And to all the sculptors that share their creations on Jonni’s site, thank you for making my days a little brighter.

    • Hi Joyce. I do have a few words about myself in the About page, but not much. I never really thought about it before. My little town of Hendricks is in SW Minnesota. I only moved here a few years ago and don’t really know many people yet, but everyone I have met has been very welcoming and friendly. The town is sitting on a beautiful little lake, with a huge city park that follows the shoreline. They have bands and community picnics and events for the kids. Do I sound like a real estate agent? 🙂

      I study everything I can about animals, but through books and observation, not school. “Self taught” is the usual term, but my house is overflowing with books so I would have to give credit for what education I do have to all the people who wrote them. I can’t claim to know much about animal anatomy, but I do read a lot about animal behavior, paleontology, genetics, evolution – or anything else that grabs my attention. I am currently reading three or four books a week about online business practices. I spent most of my adult life working in factories and offices, but when my daughter was little I sold prints and t-shirts at the Pike Place Market in Seattle. I’ve been self-employed as a writer, publisher and blogger for eleven years, and started designing websites and writing books seventeen years ago. Who says you can’t teach an old dog new tricks?

      OK – your turn. 🙂

      • I didn’t know you worked at Pike Place Market. I might have seen you there in ancient history. I think it was in the 1980s! I saw a beautiful ring there that I have never forgotten, but still can’t afford.

        • You probably walked right by – it was a busy place! I haven’t been back in years. There were some excellent silversmiths and jewelers there when I worked the market. I couldn’t afford their work either. Still can’t. 😉

    • Hi Desirae. Did you edit the image so it’s less than 250KB? The system won’t accept large files. There are two links in the post at the very top of this page that might help if you don’t have an image editing program. I hope you’ll try again, in spite of the frustrations!

  • Here is Jez finished. Been working on her off-and-on since last August.

    Shelbot, you can take her off the list!

        • 16″ to the top of the ear, about her real size. (I hope you notice I got the correct toe nails the right color, even if there are other problems!) It’s going to be difficult not having her around!

          • Thanks for the info, Rex. I find that if I know the size I can visualize the sculpture better. I noticed the nails! Whoever gets her is one lucky person.

    • It’s beautiful! The stance is perfect, the painting is spot on – well worth the time it took to finish it, I’d say. If I remember correctly, this is to b e a gift?

      • Yes, Jonni. Jez has been a friend for the past eight years. For a period of time, Loki and I walked with her daily. I started her in August, but she died in November, so it’s been tough. She is going to her human companion!

          • She didn’t know I was doing it until Jez died. I went up two different days to spend with her and Jez. So she’s known about it since November, but she doesn’t know Jez is finished. I will take it up to her tomorrow (3-hour trip!).

            • I hope it isn’t too hard to go back home without that beautiful sculpture. I’m not as nice a person as you are, so it would be really hard for me to give it away. I know Jez’s human is going to treasure it. And you can always visit, right? (Or make another one that’s just as beautiful. Or five… 😉 )

            • I spent the day making the trek northward to shop for food, and we stopped by and handed off Jez. As soon as the door opened, she grabbed her and held her in her arms (an uncomfortably long time) and said, “Now I have her forever.” She put Jez on the end table next to the tv, and when her mother came out of the other room, she said, “What are you doing up there?” before she realized that Jez had been dead for four months and it was a statue. So, it was rather nice. I guess one of the things that made this sculpture so difficult was I tried my very best to make it look like her and the emotional attachment. She began looking her over and saw the mole that was on her legs, the nails the “correct” color, the gray spots on her legs, etc.

              I can always visit, yes. Her brother, Acey, spent all the time we were there, hours, right by my side. (He’s the one I want to do on his back with “bat ears.”) I get so much pleasure from seeing them, and not so much that I live so far.

              Cloudy and rainy here in Utah! Thanks, Jonni. None of this would have been possible without your help and your wonderful book on making paper mache animals.

            • Aww – now I’m all misty-eyed, thinking of what pleasure you brought to Jez and Acey’s ‘mom.’ If I had even a tiny part in that, I’m so glad. It’s really all your doing, though, of course. Who else would have thought of the mole?

              So – now we wait for Acey. When do we get to stat nagging? And will you keep him after he’s done? Since he’s going to be in an unusual position, I wonder if it would be easier to make the armature with the wire legs wrapped in crumpled foil? Then you could attach them where they belong at shoulders and hips, but play with the position of the legs until you get them exactly the way you want them. That might be easier than manipulating a cardboard pattern. Maybe Teca will roll over and pose for you, for a treat.

      • Your Majesty, I would say that I can’t take her off the list until you make one for each of us, but you’re such a wonderful person, I’m afraid that you might try. This is the kind of sculpture so many of us strive to create. She is superb. And I’m pretty sure I know how Jez’s mom will react, but please let us know.

        • Shelbot, nice to hear from you! I will let you know. I’m thinking I would like to make one of her for myself, but I’m not sure. I have a standing joke with Jonni that I need to make five of anything before I approach acceptability. So, what number would you like to have? lol. I have a couple piggy banks to do — began a giraffe today. Cleaned out my bedroom (work room) and put all 17 projects on a steel bookcase that I’m working on. I didn’t know I had that many going. Crazy.

    • Wow Rex, beautiful work on your sculpture portrait of Jez! I especially like her expression, stance and ‘doggy’ toes 🙂

  • This a how far I’ve gotten on my bull so far…There’s rocks in the back end to anchor him but not sure how to do the head so the horns will fit right without making the head look huge!! Any suggestions?

      • I really like the side view, the charging stance.

        Oh! I read the other comments. It looks like the horns sit just above the eyes or go through the top of the skull, depending on the type of buffalo. The 11.5 Aluminum wire helps me keep things aligned. I do have to say that I have come to depend on skewers a lot to keep parts in place until they dry. I’ll attach a photo of giraffe legs because it is worth 1,000 words. Skewers and masking tape. I think you could hold the horns in place while the clay dries. I love this project.

    • He looks great, Desirae. The stance is so dynamic – I can see that it’s going to turn out really nice.

      If you think the head is in the right proportions to the body, then there should be no problem once you add the horns. They’ll take up space, like horns do, but they won’t make the head bigger. Will you be using a piece of stiff wire inside the horns to help support them?

      • Was going to hot glue and e6000 them into place and them tape around the base then with rolled paper towel dipped in glue creat the ring around the base of the horns then build up the middle skull with paperclay . How would I use wire?

        • I would normally cut one piece of wire that goes all the way from one tip of a horn to the other tip, and either run it through the inside of the head, or bend it in the middle so it can lay on top of the head and be covered with the paper mache without showing. That’s for horns that go out sideways. For horns that go straight up, like some African antelopes, I would cut two wires quite a bit longer than the horns, and put the lower third either on the inside of the armature. The attachment point of the horns is where the piece is most likely to crack when it’s handled, so I like to make that point really strong.

            • Darn – I forgot about the real horns. (Sorry I forgot.) You’re right – you wouldn’t be able to support the horns with a wire, since the wire would have to go through the center of a solid horn, and that’s not going to happen. I’m still worried about the attachment points, though. Does anyone else have a suggestion for making sure the horns stay where they belong on Desirae’s sculpture? I’m imagining really complicated steps, like drilling holes, adding dowels, etc. – which I doubt anyone would actually want to try. What do you think, folks? Will Desirae’s original idea be strong enough? Or should she try something else?

            • And I have one more question – are the horns separate, like I’m imagining them, or are they attached with a solid bone that would go across the top of the skull? If the bones are attached, then your idea would work just fine.

            • Desirae, could you post a pic of the horns next to the armature? Or did you get the attachment figured out? Armature is looking really good, BTW.

          • I used green plastic garden stakes for the horns on my gazelle, I connected them with “U” shaped pipe attachments to the armature, the garden stakes worked really well because they are thicker than wire and will curve nicely if careful.

            • Oh Darn, I should have kept on reading, just realized real horns are being used, although I think the pipe attachments still might work with the real horns , they could be glued to the armature? just a thought not sure I helped.

            • Susan, can’t argue with you or that. Proof is in the pudding, etc. I remember the horns but love them even more. Now I’ll have to go to the garden shop and see what garden stakes are!

              I didn’t realize they were real horns, either!

    • It looks like a good beginning. I have not read the suggestions yet, but I would use a piece of armature wire to go through the skull and both horns. From being raised on a farm, I remember that “hump” that connects both horns.

      Hope you are faster than I am!

      • Sir Rex, this guy doesn’t happen to sell a product that is “magically delicious” does he? Hmmm? Great character face. How many lepumpchauns so far? How many to go?

  • Hello Everyone well i have a Question i’m making a 2 foot dragon lol first thing i’ve ever made it’s made of chicken wire news paper wire little scrap wood for the spikes on its back legs i even used scrap plastic bags all kinds of stuff ok now im covering in in masking tape what a hard job been 3 hours covering the tail…. now when i get it covered in tape Should i make some of jonni’s Paper Mache Clay and put a good coat or two on it?

    • Hi Bryan – boy, you’re really catching the paper mache bug, aren’t you? I’m glad you’ve joined our club so enthusiastically. Naturally, I’ll say that you should put a thin coat or two of the paper mache on it. That’s how I made my big dragon. I believe I made the mix a little thin, with less flour, so it could be spread faster over the larger area.

      Will we get to see your dragon when it’s done?

  • Jonni, I saw that someone did a “blanket” post so I am going to copy her/him. There is so much to comment on it would take me hours. The recent sculptures posted are beautiful, as always, and we are so fortunate we have your site to display ,and comment on, these works of art. I just love seeing what others are doing and reading what others have to say. Has anything happened with Daisy and Mike? Thank you, Jonni, for all you do.

    • Hi Joyce. I agree – it’s amazing the amount of talent and creativity that we get to see here every day. Amazing stuff. As for Daisy and Mike, they’re currently acting as models for a small project of mine. I did a lot of research into pricing and shipping (shipping them the right way, so they actually get where they’re going in good shape, could cost as much as $60! I had no idea…). Right now I’m working a totally new idea, and I’ll be sharing it as soon as there’s enough done to actually be worth sharing. I’m quite excited about it, so stay tuned, as they used to say. 😉

      • I am intrigued Jonni! I did have a simple idea for marketing your sculptures…some of our area restaurants display local artist’s work on their walls mostly. I haven’t seen sculptures but why not? Just a thought if you have any restaurants around your quaint little town.

        • We have more restaurants in our town than one would expect. Three full-service restaurants, plus a wonderful coffee shop/bakery – and a craft brewery with a very nice attached bar. For a town with only 700 people, I think that’s pretty impressive. I don’t see any space in the establishments for sculptures, but I’ve been trying to talk Jessie into coming out with some of her wonderful landscape paintings. I haven’t persuaded her yet. 😉

  • Hi everyone. I received an email today from someone who needs some sculptures made. I told her I didn’t have time, but I’d pass along the information in case anyone reading this would be interested in making them for her. She said:

    “I don’t know the budget. Once we are aware of the cost of each sculpture I can decide what and how many sculptures. I am interested in A Giraffe, an elephant, Zebra, about 2 monkeys, & possibly a baby hippo and gorilla. Also a couple of trees. My event is in May. I live in the NY/NJ areas and would love to be able to take classes if you know of and classes and instructors in my area.”

    So – if you’re interested, send me an email and I’ll forward it to her. Also, if you know of any classes in that area, let us all know that by responding to this comment.

    • Shame, I would have happily donated the 7ft giraffe who now lives in a spare bedroom, but being in the UK (Yes, I’m a Brit) & its construction of chicken wire, old wood & copious masking tape…doubtful it would get through US customs (besides prohibitive shipping cost).

      It is of course of the sub genus of lesser spotted Cornish giraffe, seen here running free in my garden.

      • It’s beautiful, as all your work is. But yes – the shipping would be pretty expensive. Even building a crate for it would be expensive. That’s one of the reasons why Dan Reeder charges so much for his sculptures, even when they don’t have to be shipped overseas.

      • I’m curious – since your lovely giraffe lives in your spare bedroom, it is either less than eight feet high, or your ceiling is taller than average. How big is he? And how long did it take you to make?

        • I had to get expanding rule & check height.
          The giraffe is 6ft 7in tall. Constructed over 3 days (that’s x2 15 hour days + several hours on third day)
          Here’s a pic of him tucked in corner of a spare room along with various other trophy heads & other wee timorous beasties

            • That is amazing Jonni – I agree – think I would love to see her process in real time!

            • Thank you all for kind comments.

              In response to Jonni, video & me don’t get on. Plus, I have the perfect face for radio & a perfect voice for silent movies.

              Err, in response to Joanne, the ‘her’ is a ‘him’. A 57yr old x-tin mine worker (among several other careers).

              In response to Eileen, I sort of like clutter (borderline hoarder) & tis a big five bedroom house & in some rooms sculptures are literally piled high, 8/10 deep in spare rooms. I simply just cannot sit & watch telly without being creative.

              …and it wouldn’t help if I took up knitting, there would simply be spare rooms filled with bobble hats, scarfs & bad jerseys.

              The pic attached is one wall in my study work/area (Dusting is for whimps, really collectors…plough the dust occasionally) . This is part of my ‘cabinet of curiosities’ collection.

            • My goodness, that is a wall of curiosities! As far as the dusting goes, I have the same problem. We have a wood burning insert that puts out way more dust than I thought possible. I use a hair dryer and blow it all on the floor and then just vacuum. It works wonders! Cleaning tip of the day!

    • Jonni, it’s very unlikely that I can help, although I’d like to, but can you or she clarify what size she is talking about? And does every animal need to be to scale? Or did I miss that? Life size? 1/2 size? Miniatures? Makes a huge difference, of course.
      I’ll look for classes in the area, but probably won’t have much luck.

      • She said she needs “Preferably life size baby ones.” Safari animals, so we’re talking about big babies. With the shipping involved she’d be way better off finding someone in her general area. There must be paper mache artists in New York. But could they work that fast?

        Do let us know if you find any classes – I know you’re good at finding stuff on Google. 😉

        • I Dont Know I’m from New York i want to Learn Also i called 5 Colleges No Help..i posted 5 different posts on Craigslist Under Classes and Local Artists and Under 12 Facebook Crafters It’s like nobody works with Paper Mache..i would love to learn but.. i’m from Western New york Buffalo-Rochester Area,,I’d Be willing to Travel to Pa..Ohio.NJ With in 6 Hours For a Weekend To Learn

          • I know some of our readers have given workshops. But we don’t really have a good way of finding out who’s doing them, and where they are. We haven’t had any comments recently from anyone who would intends to teach a workshop. Maybe this summer we’ll hear from a few people, and if we do I’ll be sure to let you know. (Paper mache for adults is a really small niche, for some reason, but I think this blog, and especially this page and all the wonderful sculptures posted here, is helping to spread the word.)

          • Yes, I have found some art institutions & galleries have quite a snotty attitude here in Cornwall, in UK towards papier-mache. I had conversation which went something like this:-
            Me: “I’m an artist”
            Gallery; “What do you paint?”
            Me: ” I sculpt, paper mache assemblage pieces!
            Gallery ” Oh. Children’s art”

            Yea, children’s art

            • Another beautiful sculpture. By the way, my daughter tells me that the right term to use when describing our work is “Mixed Media.” It’s quite popular now, and covers just about everything. Plus, it’s associated with adults, not kids.

            • People need to get enlightened! When I show my stuff, I label it as paper mache and people are amazed! My response is always, ” It is not your kindergarten paper mache,” then I explain the process. They love it and invariably it ends up in a sale. I had toyed with the idea of calling it paper clay or paper pulp but a college psychology teacher told me that she loved that I called it what it was. It added to the intrigue!
              Interesting piece…you have quite the imagination!

    • Hi Jonni,
      I’m new here, but my friend I have been looking and loving your stuff for awhile and finally took the plunge and are doing your bear….which I love.we did one layer of brown paper towel and standard paper mache, then a layer of paper mache. They look pretty good, bit need a bit more smoothness. What would you recommend for final layer?
      Ps…I might be hooked
      Laura from Canada
      Ps…I wasn’t sure the right place to ask this question was….sorry if it’s in wrong place.

      • Hi Laura. Yes, this is the perfect place for your question. I’m glad you’re enjoying the bear – and I hope we get to see it when it’s done.

        There are two options for making the surface smoother, depending on how smooth you want it. For just a little bit smoother, you can use the home-made gesso recipe. You can add as many thin layers as you want, and either sand or smooth it with a damp sponge after each layer dries. For an even smoother coat (but more work) you can use the smoother air-dry clay recipe. It’s almost the same as the paper mache clay recipe, but it uses less paper, and it has an addition of corn starch. You can press on a very thin layer over your bear, and smooth it down with a finger dipped in a mixture of water and glue. Or you can add fur texture, if you want, with the edge of a knife.

        Have fun!

  • I thought I’d share this with you. I’m delighted to say that x2 of my paper sculpture creations I donated to Fishermen’s mission charity, sold over the weekend. They were auctioned on an International Fine Art & Antique auction site for £190 ($235) & £170 ($210) respectively.

  • Finally finished! I used paper towel for the skin instead of putting impressions in the clay, I used airbdry clay to make the eyes, I used paper towels for eye lids, I used a combo of dark grey, brown, red and back as the first wash then dark grey and brown for the second wash…I put a mesh butterfly on his nose I spray painted gold then added glitter then hot glued it to his nose! Totally happy with the turn out!! Your awesome Jonnie!! Thank u!!!!!

          • I am making a bull . I bought 6″ horns from eBay to out in the bull for a friend of mine who’s birthday is in May he is a torrus . I think he will like it! Just my question is I want to put him in charging position but I think he will be top heavy how do I ancer his bottom so he won’t tip forward. .Or how should I position his feet so he won’t tip forward any suggestions would be good…And did I do good on my ellis eyes? I’m not so good at eyes lol

            • Hi Desirae. Did you try to upload a photo of your bull? If you did, I hope you’ll edit the photo to make it smaller, so the program will accept it.

              If the sculpture is already done, but it still isn’t quite balanced, you can try to figure out where you could put some heavy objects to balance the weight a little better. Then cut a small hole in the skin of your bull, push in some rocks or lead weights, and cover the would with more paper mache. I’ve had to do that with a few sculptures that just wouldn’t stand up quite right, and you can’t tell once the paper mache has been repaired.

              We really would love to see your bull. Please try one more time with the image, after editing the file to make it smaller. 🙂

            • Hi Jonnie I haven’t made my bull yet I am just pre-preparing so I don’t have to make to many adjustments I am working on drawing out the idea and still waiting on my horns to come in the mail but as I start I will upload photos

            • I guess I was rushing things a bit, eh? 🙂

              I just remembered an old post I did about painting eyes on paper mache. Someone else mentioned eyes recently. Maybe you could both find something useful on this post. I completely forgot about it, until I was going through some old photos.

            • Desirae, Cute elephant/butterfly. Thank you for the different shots. Always appreciate that. One question: did you put the tusks so far up on the face to give them stability? If you already told us, forgive me. Your eyes are pretty. Bet your sister loves him.

            • Hey, Shelbot – I can answer that one. Elephants have ridges of bone that go from the tusks up the face. It’s more prominent on some elephants than others. They have weird faces, but they’re fun to sculpt.

            • Hi shelbot yes the tusks start at the base of the brow line and then I put a ton of tape to hold it in place lol thank u he was fun to make Jonnie I can’t wait until I’m done sketching out my bull so I can start on it!!

  • Hi Jonni,
    I have been following your site for ages but haven’t got round to posting anything yet! Your work is an inspiration and I love to see what others have created with this medium.
    I have a shop http://www.etsy.com/shop/albertinebelle and I sell my work to help with the cost of fostering animals before they get rescue spaces and to support wildlife rehabilitation here in the U.K
    This is my latest piece, ‘Flint the fox’

    • You do lovely work, Susan. I really like the two Siamese cats snuggling on your etsy page. And I think it’s great that your art helps the wild ones in the UK. For their sakes, I hope your store is a huge success!

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