Paper Mache Animals

How the Raven Armature was Made

Today someone asked me how the raven armature was built, because that part of the project was left out of the previous videos. As you may recall, a few weeks ago I uploaded several videos showing how I added the new home-made air-dry clay to my raven sculpture, and then how I added the iron coating. But I didn’t show you how the actual shapes were created, when I made the armature.

I didn’t have the camera turned on for the entire process of building the armature, but I hope there’s enough here to help those who would like to make a raven of their own.

You can find the pattern I used here.
The website where I found the shape of the tail is here.


About the author

Jonni Good

I'm a sculptor, author, gardener, and grandma. When I'm not catering to the needs of my obnoxious cat, I make videos, create stuff, and play around with paper mache. I'm also the author of several highly-rated books on paper mache. You'll find them in the sidebar, and on


  • Jonni, I watched your videos on making your raven. That was very helpful to me. At one point you say that you wrapped the form with plaster cloth, then a thin layer of your clay. What is a “thin” layer?

    I won’t ask any more questions until I try it myself:-) Thanks again.

    • Hi Paula. I keep my layers really thin, maybe 1/8″. You can use more if you want, but it will take longer to dry, and thicker layers are more likely to crack while drying – although the cracks are easy to fill in with more clay.

  • Thank you, Jonni, for your rapid response. I’m excited to get started. I’ve missed sculpting and find myself more than ready to try this new recipe. You’re my inspiration..Thanks so much for sharing your secrets…..A big fan, Pamela Smith

  • Love your work, Jonni….fell in love w/the baby elephant as seen on UTube, but can’t find the pattern. Also don’t see the link for the raven body shapes. I’m not good w/computers, so I might just be missing where these links are…Help…and thanks.

  • After seeing you Chihuahua. I got inspired to do sculpture again. I did some nice Modigliani heads many years ago. I enjoy watching your videos on building methods. I want to join this group. I hope the soft work with paper will be easy on my arthritic hands. As wood carving is rather difficult now. Thanks again Jonni for the inspiration.

  • Jonni-
    On a project like this, which tools do you generally use? What kind of sculpting or smoothing items do you find most useful?


  • This is amazing. I love the metallic look and the Crow looks as though its about to leap, very nice.

  • Hi Jonni! I am a fan and fellow sculptor. I find tearing piece after of piece of masking tape from the roll a very daunting task. I finally had enough and created a dispenser. I took a plastic shoe tote ( you can find in the home organization section of any store), dowel rod, hack saw blade and super strong tape ( I used metal duct tape- the actual aluminum type not the common type). Cut two matching holes on either side of the short ends of the box about 1.5 – 2 inches up from the bottom (there is a good reason for it being low). Made small enough holes that the dowel fit snuggly and did not move. Pushed the dowel from the outside of box into box and prior to pushing it out the other side added all of my masking tape rolls-lined up to unroll in the same direction) onto the dowel ( about 10 rolls). Now at the top of the outside long edge of the plastic box I carefully taped the hacksaw blade, just high enough for the serrated edge to peek over the plastic edge. Make sure that is nice and secure, but taped so it can be changed out later on (reason I did not glue it). Now you have all of the tape you need readily at hand and not have to put down your art to tear tape. The box will still move around so I suggest screwing it down to a table if you want it secure, this will ensure- one hand usage.
    June Pegram

    • Thanks, June! I tried to find a ready-made tape dispenser that would work with masking tape, but had no luck. I’ll be making your version soon. I don’t suppose you’d want to do a guest post with photos to go with the instructions you’ve already written, would you? I would stick it up on a post of its own, so more people would find it. If interested, just let me know.

      • Sure that would be great! But first let me get the parts together for a Nicer looking one. Mine was a ” I Need It Now” prototype. I will get back with you probably next week or so.
        I bet there are tons out there screaming at their tapes rolls like I was..
        June Pegram

        • I know the feeling, I personally made mine out of old DVD’s, a piece of wood, a couple of dowels, a scrap piece of foam board and the cutter from a empty foil wrap container. I hook mine down with a c-clamp. But maybe I will try your version instead, your’s seems easier. Let me know when you get this made. I really want to see it.

  • You say you used super sculpey for the beak without baking. Does that mean you just covered it with the paper clay and let it dry? I really like the open mouth, so would like to give it a try.
    Been busy online buying glue,etc. not readily available here in the boonies in Colorado.
    Again thank you so much for sharing your wonderful talent. You are awesome.

    • Yes, I just used the Sculpey as a temporary form, and removed it when the beak was cut. I cut the entire bottom half of the beak off, so it could be moved, and that gave me room to work – I also had to cut away the bit of cardboard that was inside. Aluminum foil might have worked just as well, but I had the Sculpey on hand.

  • Thank you for that short tutorial, it does give a little more information and ideas how to proceed.

  • Dear Jonni,
    Thank you so much for sharing all of your “know how”. Your work is amazing! I am planning on having a naturalists wedding in November and now (due to your amazing tutorials) Im going to have my dream decor for my big day! Thank you so so much.
    Very Best

  • Jonni, Your Bunny is just so adorable, and thank you for the crow armature. Some day I would like to make a crow :-) but I have to finish the ones I’m working on now.

  • The same thought occurred to me – but for your rhino. Now that was an armature accomplishment that I would have liked to see! Maybe you can add this to your hopefully in progress completed rhino video. I remember once I made a pretty impressive elephant – the old and unimproved way – using chicken wire, paper and tape. Many scratches and cuts later it was complete, but the legs and ears where the challenge. My thoughts were that your rhino could have presented you with some similar problems – stability, strength in the legs area and the like.

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