27 Responses

  1. Peter Court
    Peter Court at |

    Hello… we use cat litter to add weight to cloth puppets (Fabric Marionettes) to add ballast and stability. We use the “Clay” type litter that absorbs moisture and paint directly onto the fabric with acrylic paint. some of the moisture goes through the cloth, swelling the cat litter clay and firming the structure. I’ve never used it for heads (We needle sculpt) but I’ll give it a go… sounds like a great idea.

  2. Carmen N
    Carmen N at |

    I saw this today. It brought so much joy to whoever saw it. I thought of sharing it here when I saw this brief video. It is so sweet. It is a marionette type of sculpture. A moveable puppy playing with a toddler. So much talent in the way it is sculpted and the art of moving the puppet to play with the little girl. I just wanted to share it. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.


  3. Mary in Oregon
    Mary in Oregon at |

    Oops! Brain cramp transferred to fingers….it’s newclaynews…not newclayclay…LOL

  4. Mary in Oregon
    Mary in Oregon at |

    Hi Jonni, I’ve seen this armature technique described in Susanna Oroyan books on dollmaking…except she uses sand instead of cat litter. I guess sand would be easier to use in smaller scales. Susanna has some pretty good suggestions for the “sand sock” with head and torso in her book “Designing the Doll”.

    1. Barbara
      Barbara at |

      Thanks for this information. I was wondering why I hadn’t seen it anywhere else but in this one old book, but apparently it is still being used.

  5. Melissa Kojima
    Melissa Kojima at |

    Wow. That’s an interesting way to make the armature. I really like the viking and praire dolls.

  6. Julie
    Julie at |

    I’m thrilled to find your paper mache clay recipe Jonni. I’m a sculptor and have always had difficulty making armatures. This fox is created out of styrofoam and paper with rebar supports. You see my son helping me with the project. It measures 36″ tall and 54″ wide. In this photo I’m getting ready to put rebar in the base. The sculpture will be outdoors of course so I’ll re-enforse it with cement. I would encourage artists to use the angel soft rolls of toilet paper. It’s the easiest way to have accurate measurements. I will have to Love your work Jonni and your videos.

    1. Melissa Kojima
      Melissa Kojima at |

      Love your fox. Would love to see it finished. Great job and thanks for tips about T.P.

  7. debbie
    debbie at |

    This is an awesome idea. I can’t wait to try it myself. Been making a few dolls with paper clay but I’ve yet to do one with paper mache. I love all of your creative ideas. thanks for sharing

  8. Barbara
    Barbara at |

    Thanks, everyone, for the kind remarks!

    I am planning to take photos of the different steps and send them along–pictures can help a lot. Rob: You’re right, the head-shaped bags are made in profile with a center seam. The ones I have made are a bit narrow and need quite a bit of building up of pulp on the sides and back, but at least they provide something to start with. Perhaps I’ll make them wider front-to-back next time. Claudio: the heads are hollow when this method is used, which means they dry faster, are lighter in weight and use less papier mache. (Not sure if this answers your question or not.)

    Again, thanks, everyone, and thanks, Jonni, for posting this!

  9. redsneaker
    redsneaker at |

    I love the input. I’ve been playing around with making dolls and I haven’t heard of any of these methods before. I also would love to see this armature setup. I don’t like what I’ve come up with or seen on the web. Maybe you could share a picture so I could get a better idea of how it looks? Great dolls you have there! Thanks!

  10. Ann Chevrefils
    Ann Chevrefils at |

    Great idea especially for speeding the dying of the interior and preventing warping. I’ve seen sand-filled conical “bags” used as molds for making horns. The fabric was dipped in plaster and paint, and not recovered after hardening.
    Beautiful faces. Thanks for sharing.

  11. Rob
    Rob at |

    What a great idea – definitely beats cutting those heads in half and getting them back together!
    I’d be interested in seeing some photos of the bags (pre-pulp-cover). It sounds like they are made in profile with a centre-seam and they have some broad shape which helps to get the form started.

  12. PaulaK
    PaulaK at |

    Thanks for posting such an interesting solution to an issue we all face. I will definitely give this a try! I enjoyed Barbara’s dolls! You are both very inspiring!

  13. Mary
    Mary at |

    What an ingenious idea! Marvelous samples of your work!

  14. Sue
    Sue at |

    Nice! Great idea for the head armatures. I’d love to see a picture of the frame that holds 4 heads!

  15. claudio
    claudio at |

    good evening,I just had my first experience sculpting a small paper mache cat.About barbara´s dolls,which are very expressive,my question is about the bag with cat litter.is this procedure needed just to have a lighter piece?I ask this ,since I sculpted a solid cat,and still had a lightweight and very hard piece.I just used glue and putty,sculpting directly.I´m impressed how a paper mache sculpture can last!I intend do make a copper wire armature
    for the next pice,have a first layer put around all of the armature, wait for it to set and completly dry,then sculpt on top.

  16. skwirl
    skwirl at |

    WOW!!!! That was AMAZING!! I haven’t been around here in a while and I’m thinkin’ I need to come visit more often!!
    Yes, thanks Barbara!


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