Garden Art

Make a Rabbit Sculpture That’s Weatherproof, So it Can Stay Outside

Outdoor bunny sculpture by Eileen Gallagher


Our friend Eileen is back with another guest post, and this time she shows us how she made an adorable rabbit sculpture from a new sculpting material called Pal Tiya. It isn’t quite finished (she’ll be painting the bunny in a few weeks) but she agreed to show it to us now because I couldn’t wait to see it.  We’ll get a second peek after the outdoor rabbit sculpture is painted. Thanks, Eileen, for writing this for us!

How I made my outdoor rabbit sculpture.

©2017 Eileen Gallagher

Hello all,

Outdoor bunny sculpture by Eileen GallagherRecently, Pal Tiya has come to the USA and some of us have been itching to try it out.

One of the biggest problems with our beloved paper mache is that we have not been able to figure out how to make it weather proof. In comes Pal Tiya! It is totally weather proof, impervious to cold and heat and most importantly, to water.

I learned a few things, would do things a bit differently next time. The Pal Tiya people have some excellent videos and information on their website which I strongly encourage you to view prior to attempting your first project. Here is the link: http://www.paltiya.com/

Armature-

An armature needs to be prepared prior to any clay work.

Supplies-

  • tin foil,
  • hot glue gun and sticks,
  • reference photo if desired,
  • a base covered in tin foil. I used a scrap piece of wood.

Technique-

Make an armature similar to the way we make the armature for paper mache. Use tin foil instead of crumpled up newpaper as the heavier clay will need a sturdier base. The use of wire and other supports are not needed unless you will be doing very large, climbable sculptures.

I decided on doing a rabbit, found a reference for the pose I wanted and made the armature out of tin foil. Start out loosely packing the tin foil and then press in later for details.

I started off with a cardboard tube to work around so I would have something to build upon. For the ears, I folded up several layers of the tin foil to make it really strong. This was the one area that I could see a weakness in my design. I did not know if the ears would hold up once the clay was applied, or if they would collapse. They did not! Yay!

Foil armature for waterproof rabbit sculpture.

Sculpting with Pal Tiya

Supplies-

  • PalTiya(I used the 8 lb box),
  • water in container,
  • disposable bowl for mixing,
  • latex gloves,
  • drop cloth,
  • measuring tools,
  • sculpting tools,
  • spray bottle with water,
  • armature on base.

Wear old clothes as it does have cement in it.

Supplies for working with Pal Tiya

Supplies for working with Pal Tiya

Technique-

My sculpture is about 1 foot high and I opted to make small amounts of the Pal Tiya at one time instead of using a mixer. Kim Beaton has a good video on her website telling just how to mix a small amount. Follow her directions exactly to get the right consistency to work.

First, I covered the whole thing with a thin layer of Pal Tiya. It is supposed to start out about 5mls thick which is slightly less than ¼ inch- pretty thin!

Adding Pal Tiya to Outdoor Rabbit Sculpture

Adding Pal Tiya to Outdoor Rabbit Sculpture

I then started on the details, starting with the face, ears and forepaws. Occasionally, spray the sculpture with water to keep it moist. Continue adding on until the sculpture is done. Fine tune your details.

Adding details to rabbit sculpture

Adding details to rabbit sculpture

 

Fur, eyes and nose added to bunny

Fur, eyes and nose added to bunny

Curing –

In paper mache, we want our sculptures to dry quickly, not so with Pal Tiya. When you are done sculpting, spray the whole thing with water and cover with a plastic bag for 1 day.

Plastic over rabbit sculpture

The following day, spray it again and cover with a wet towel, cover with the bag again. This is why you need a base, so you can move it to a safe place. Now it must sit for an entire week. Pal Tiya needs to cure slowly to be as strong as possible. They say it is 80% cured in the first week, totally cured in one month.

Final sculpture-

patience is needed to wait the week and resist peeking. Here are a few pictures of the finished rabbit.

hand-made rabbit sculptureOutdoor rabbit sculpturewaterproof rabbit sculpture

It is blotchy in color which appears to be lessening as it cures. Obviously some areas were thicker and wetter than others. Eventually the color will all be the same.

Impressions

It is a fun sculpture medium that is more like sculpting in ceramic clay than in making a paper mache project. It is pliable, does not crumble and it does do exactly what you want it to do. When mixed properly, it is easy to add and subtract clay as needed. You can see the fibers when mixing but not so much when sculpting. I did not mind the fibers as my sculpture is furry anyway.

Problems

Gloves too thin – I ran into some difficulties with using the gloves because my gloves were too thin. Doubling up on gloves solved that problem.

Do your project indoors – I had started the project outside. It was a cool, overcast day and I thought to keep the mess outdoors. Not a good idea…before long the sun came out, the wind kicked up and started the sculpture drying out too quickly. In I went, making double the mess, oh well.

Print your reference photo – Another problem I had was that my reference photo was on an Ipad. I would advise to print one out because the Ipad kept timing out and you can’t touch the screen with cement on your gloves!

Finish in 2 hours – With Pal Tiya you get about 2 hours of manipulation time for the initial sculpt. I had wanted to finish the project the first go around and I had just enough time to do that. I probably would have spent more time on the fur details but it was getting too hard to make the marks that I wanted. You are able to go back and add some more the next day if you score the area you want to add to. For the first project, I just wanted to complete it on the same day.

Added note – make sure to use outdoor hose to clean up tools and the like. Cement can/will clog your pipes.

In all, a fun medium. In a few weeks I will paint the rabbit and will update you with photos. Happy sculpting and if you choose to try this medium, please remember to send pictures!
All the best,
Eileen

 

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31 Comments

  • Hi Jonni,
    I am in the U.K. and sculpt critters in paper mache (using paper torn from magazines for colour, no paint used) over wire armetures and have just received my Pal Tiya pack!
    I’ve never been able to site any of my work outside before. I’m on vacation until mid August and a bit apprehensive about the mixing of it when I get home, but excited to start!
    I’m not sure how large a project it will be as it is a small trial pack.
    Shall I let you know how I get on?
    Sue ?
    P.S. I post work in progress pics on my Facebook page as I create my mache creatures if of interest to anyone.
    This is my page:
    https://m.facebook.com/PAWS.BySueMcLearie

    • Hi Sue – yes, we would love to see your Pal Tiya project in progress. Feel free to post as many photos as you want. And I hope you have a great vacation, too!

  • Joni, so fun to see you experimenting with Pal Tiya, I have been watching your you tubes for ideas of armatures. I make outdoor fabric sculptures so your hints are very helpful. I have been interested in the Pal Tiya when I found out about it a number of years ago from some New Zealand friends. I am signed up on their newsletter and the US base is pretty close to my Canadian home. Some day soon I hope.
    Your talent as a paper mache artist and the weather proof Pal Tiya… a great match.

    • Hi Lise. I haven’t had a chance to play with Pal Tiya myself. Someone sent me a secret-Santa gift of Pal Tiya, but I’ve been so busy I haven’t had a chance to make anything yet. Eileen, the author of this article, is our blog’s expert, whether she wants to admit it or not. 🙂

      I took a look at your website, Lise, and I really like the fabric sculptures. Can they stay outside all year?

      • I miss read when I saw the article and then your name.
        Yes the sculptures I make can be outside as long as we use natural fibers. It is a water based polymer and saturates the material making it weather/ water proof. I have some great pictures of one of my sculptures experiencing our very unusual snowy, ice storms this past winter. And she looks as good as new.

          • Yes I do and I have one in a couple of weeks, where we can make any shape (animal or abstract) and the building of it is very similar to paper mache, so I suggested to the students to watch a couple of your videos to get ideas of how to build the armature. 2 are doing sockeye salmon and one is doing a frog. But by watching your video’s they can get an idea of how to build the dimensions. I can see it will be similar to using the Pal Tiya

  • I made a horseshoe crab, small and not too much detail necessary, as my first Pal Tiya project. I learned that I have to wait till the Texas heat cools somewhat before working on my large project, jaguar cubs.

    Is your rabbit open or closed on the bottom? I have the aluminum foil armature ready for one jaguar cubbut can’t work on it till about November, so I am planning for all the details.

    • I left the rabbit open on the bottom, if turned over,you can see the tin foil. I did see one of Kim Beaton’s videos where there was no opening, so I don’t think it matters. Will you show us your horseshoe crab? Did the heat dry out the sculpture too fast? Is that why you will be waiting for the next one?

      • I’m sorry for such a long delay in responding! The Pal Tiya started to get hard almost as soon as I mixed it because it is so hot here. The room I worked in was 83 or 84 degrees F. I am learning and can’t work fast enough. During a cool snap we had a few weeks ago, I made another small piece. It was much more fun!

          • Oh he is very cool! Did you say that was your first project? You must have sculpted before! My next question was going to be to see if you entered the contest but you already stated you have. Good luck! I hope someone from Jonni’s site wins!
            Question- do you have horseshoe crabs where you are? I thought they were an east coast thing.

            • Thank you both!

              I had made two paper mâché sculptures before the horseshoe crab, a cat in 2015 and a mixed media elephant piece with paper mâché relief. I decided in 2014 that I wanted to figure out how to work in three dimensions.

              When I was growing up, I spent a lot of time at my grandparents’ house on Longboat Key on the Florida West Coast. There was a natural beach next door where horseshoe crabs returned every year for breeding. They were fascinating.

    • No, if I was to show a piece,I would label it as Pal Tiya-that would open up a whole line of questions for sure. It is just another form of sculpture. It does have fibers in it, I think from cellulose but it is definitely not paper mache.

  • Eileen, how big is your rabbit? It looks like it might be about ten inches high. Am I close? Did you use all of the material in your eight pound package?

    You’ve really inspired me to try using Pal Tiya. A few weeks after I posted Kim’s guest post a package of the material showed up in the mail, although I didn’t order it. It’s been sitting on my dining room table all this time, because I haven’t had time to make something with it. But now that I’ve seen that you were able to make your rabbit in just two hours (after the armature was done, of course) I may carve out some time and give it a go. I was very sad when one of my waterproofing experiments failed and I lost my tortoise – maybe I should make another one, or maybe a snapping turtle. (I got to watch a snapping turtle lay a clutch of eggs in a pile of gravel, just a few feet away from the road where I was walking the dogs. They’re amazing creatures – and so trusting to just walk away and assume nature will take care of all those babies without her giving them another thought!)

    • Jonni, It is about 12″ tall, so you were close. I did not use the whole 8 lbs, maybe 1/2 of the package. I will be able to make another-my daughter really wants some mushrooms for her garden.
      That is cool that you received some in the mail. Perhaps one of your grateful readers knowing funds are tight? You should use it and do a tutorial in case it was a reader. I would love to see a snapper. I have done one and given it away to a turtle lover friend. She even puts a bow on it at Christmas time!
      I have seen them lay eggs as well. Hundreds of ping pong ball shaped eggs-the one I saw laid on the bank of the pond across the street from us. A great teaching moment for my kids, the wonder of nature and all that. Yes, do it and forget the online business for a bit!

      • I’m impressed that you were able to build something that large with just half of the package – that actually makes the product seem more affordable. And a turtle would be a perfect addition to my one small flower bed… I’ll try to see if I can tear some time away from all the research I’ve been doing for the new site. Can’t promise a tutorial anytime soon, but feel free to nag. Shelbot hasn’t been visiting much lately, so you may need to take over the job. 🙂

  • Eileen, this is marvelous. What a beautiful little creature.

    (I just finished my jackrabbit. Not finished. Can I send it to you for touchups. You have done such a wonderful job with the face and body.) First class.

  • Sounds marvellous, and your demonstration and instructions were excellent, thank you for that. I think I checked this medium out some time ago and found it hugely expensive and not yet in the UK. Is there any improved information on this substance now? It needs to be cheaper to justify buying a good amount. I would love to try it out. Kind regards, Marilyn

    • Marilyn, yes it is a bit pricey but this one only used about 1/2 of the 8 lb pkg. So, I can make another small sculpture. I think their next stop is to get it into the U.K. I would check their website to see when that will be. This was a total splurge on my part. If I use it for sculptures that I sell, I will just include the price of the product into the total. An 8 lb pkg is supposed to be enough for the size of a cat-they have a chart on their website to show how much one would need.

      • Hi Rob,
        We had the shipment of Pal Tiya over to the UK and it sold out very quickly. Our aim is that we are gathering the best ceramics teachers to train in Pal Tiya Premium this year and will be running classes here in the UK!
        So the product will be made more available here- we were testing the market and it was very very positive 🙂

    • We had the shipment of Pal Tiya over to the UK and it sold out very quickly. Our aim is that we are gathering the best ceramics teachers to train in Pal Tiya Premium this year and will be running classes here in the UK!
      So the product will be made more available here- we were testing the market and it was very very positive 🙂

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