Paper Mache Animals

Paper Mache Horse, Day 6

Paper Mache Appaloosa Foal
Important Note: I used drywall (plaster board) for the pattern on this project, just to see if it would work. It didn’t! Use cardboard, instead. I also used Super Sculpey as the form for the head and I forgot to remove it after the paper mache was dry, like I should have. The oil in the modeling clay seeped through the paint and ruined part of his face. It took about a year for the spot to show, but then it just kept getting bigger. I also used Super Sculpey for my giraffe head -but I did it right that time, and cut the head open to remove the clay. Live and learn. 😉
Paper Mache Colt, Getting Closer

Paper Mache Colt, Getting Closer

I can see now that I really need to build a solar dryer if I’m going to continue making larger paper mache animal sculptures. It’s warm enough on my front porch to make wild yeast happy (that’s why paper mache paste gets that watery grey liquid on top if you leave it out for a few hours in this nice weather. The Alaskan gold miners called the alcohol in that liquid “hooch” and considered it a benefit of making sourdough bread).

However, it’s not warm enough to dry my horse fast enough to suit me, so I’m going to build myself a solar dryer. That’s next week’s project…

But I am making progress. The modeling on the body and legs is pretty much done, and I will do the face details tomorrow out of Super Sculpey.

I found a great website today that show the bones inside the legs. I wish I had found it sooner. It would really help in modeling those bumpy joints. I also found a site that shows an entire horse skeleton. It’s interesting that the horse’s backbone is actually straight. The curves at the shoulders and rump are not caused by the spine curving, but are long protrusions of the vertebrae for the attachment of large muscles.

I hope I have a foal’s head modeled for you tomorrow.

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15 Comments

    • Hi Harmony. Are you trying to upload a photo? Your image may be too large. Try editing it to a smaller size, and give it another try.

  • This is well-made. His neck is a little short, though… makes him look rather like a large dog 😛

    I recently made (helped a classroom of kids make) a life-size alligator with a wood and chicken wire armature. Paper mache is lots of fun!

  • Hello, this is amazing! I am doing the same thing for a school project and i was wondering if you could tell me to make the frame of his body? please email me at [email address removed] as soon as possible because i said, this is for school and i need to get the information like now lol. thank you and again, this is AMAZING!!

    • Katie, the instructions and pattern are included in the horse series. Start at the beginning, with this post. Don’t use the plasterboard like I did, because that was an experiment that didn’t work very well. Cardboard would work much better.

      You can find a really detailed version of another horse in my book. 🙂

  • Hello

    We are a small therapeutic riding program. One of our local high school groups would like to make a carousel horse for our program to use for special events and parades, etc. Do you have any info you can share on how to get started? We would like to have the horse be sturdy enough to hold 1-2 small children. We would like to be able to have the pole be fixed to a sturdy floor. Any information you can offer would be greatly appreciated. Thanks so much . . .

    • Hi Carol. I’ve never done anything that big, or anything that needs to hold up several kids at once. I can offer suggestions, but please don’t take this as the opinion of an expert. I’m clearly not.

      This is what I would do: I’d find a good carpenter who could build a horse out of strong plywood. I would make the “bones” of the horse out of this material, and connect the legs and body together with strong bolts. No work on the external paper mache skin should be done until the internal plywood armature has been proven to be strong enough to hold wiggly kids. You might even want to call in an engineer, just to make sure it’s safe before you proceed.

      You can get an idea of what this type of armature would look like before it’s skinned by scrolling to the bottom of my jackrabbit post, but you would have to add bolts going all the way through from one leg to another, through the blocking and the body, so the weight of the children wouldn’t cause the armature to come apart.

      The pole would have to be attached to the armature, and some kind of metal support would have to be attached to the pole and extend under the horse’s tummy. I’m not an engineer, but it seems like the pole and it’s connection to the horse would be the area most likely to give way under the weight of moving children.

      Once you have the plywood armature strong enough, you can fill out the muscles and create a hard skin using the techniques found in the tutorials on this site. Since kicking is natural while riding a horse, you would have to put on many layers of paper and paste – up to 1/2 thick or more.

      As I said, please get the advice of a competent engineer or carpenter. My ideas often sound good, but need plenty of tweaking in real life.

  • Is it possible to make paper mache weather proof? I am doing a smurf about 2-3′ tall and I would like to put him in my garden but I am afraid all my work would be ruined. please let me know if you have any ideas.

    • Hi Doreen. Several people have emailed me with that question and I always say “I don’t think so.” I haven’t tried it myself, but water can find it’s way into even a microscopic hole in a painted coating. Once it’s in, the sculpture would begin to rot. I suggest that you make your sculpture out of concrete instead.

      However, that’s only an opinion. If there’s anyone out there who knows of a way to completely waterproof a paper mache sculpture, I’d sure like to know about it, too. I would love to put a life-sized ostrich out in my front yard!

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