Note: If you like rabbits, you might also be interested in the lop-eared baby bunny dolls in my new book, How to Make Adorable Baby Animal Dolls.
Project Difficulty Level: Advanced.
In a previous post I showed you how to make a little paper mache lop-eared bunny, using newspaper and masking tape to create the form. In this post I’ll show you how I created a Dutch rabbit using Super Sculpey as a temporary internal form, instead of using the paper armature.
I’ve been using the newspaper and masking tape technique for years, but it does have it’s drawbacks. It is cheap, but developing small details can be a real challenge. Creating details in Super Sculpey is easy – it’s a wonderful medium for sculpting, but I don’t like the “plastic” look of it after it’s been baked. For that reason, I decided to see what happens if you use the Sculpey for a form for a paper mache sculpture.
Since the Sculpey isn’t baked, and the paper mache doesn’t stick to it, you can use it again for another project (which is nice, since it’s pretty expensive). You can’t leave the Sculpey inside the sculpture, though, because the oil in the clay would eventually seep out into the paper, and ruin the painted finish.
The first step was to create a little rabbit out of Super Sculpey. Once I was happy with the form, I start adding newsprint strips, using a paste made from flour and water.
To make a boiled paste, put one cup of water and a rounded tablespoon of white flour in a small saucepan. Mix this well (I use an electric mixer), so there are no lumps. Now put the pan on a burner and slowly bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. As soon as it begins to boil, remove it from the burner and allow it to cool. It will “gel” as it cools.
This paste is not as strong as the raw paste I normally use, (see the paper mache recipe page) but it does make it easier to bend the paper around small details.
In the photo you can see that the first layer of newsprint was allowed to dry, and I’m now adding the second layer of brown Kraft paper. I’m using a bag of beans to hold the rabbit in a convenient position. When adding the paper you need to be fairly careful that you don’t change the shape of the underlying Sculpey form. (I thought about putting the bunny in the freezer for a few minutes to firm him up, but I didn’t actually try it.)
Once the second layer of paper is completely dry, I used a very sharp box cutter to remove cut the rabbit in half. I cut in areas where there were no small details to worry about when the rabbit was put back together.
The Sculpey was then removed in pieces (you lose the original form, of course, but the clay can now be used again for something else.)
I now used strips of Kraft paper, dipped in the raw flour paste (just mix up some white flour with water, to the consistency of heavy cream) to add a layer on the inside of the rabbit, to reinforce the walls of the sculpture. In a recent experiment I found that the raw paste is stronger than the boiled paste.
Then I put the two halves back together, using Kraft paper and raw paste, and added the ears.