7.5 feet Tall Giraffe

Made by Amy Cole

After tons of research, followed by countless hours of work, I am excited to share my completed giraffe! He stands about 7.5 feet tall from hoof to ossicone.  I started with Jonni’s giraffe pattern. Then I built an armature from (4) 1 x 1’s and a 2 x 4. I used a few shims to angle each leg outward a bit. I used a thick dowel rod for the neck. I nailed them all together with my nail gun. Once the armature was sturdy, I started filling in his body and neck with bubblewrap and packing paper, all held in tight with masking tape.

Once the “inner bulk” was done I got to work on the shape of his legs. Using a side view photo of a giraffe from the internet, I used the graph method that Jonni shares to enlarge and transfer the image of his front and rear legs onto large pieces of cardboard. I cut those out and hot glued them on to the padded armature. (Personal Tip: when copying the graph design onto large cardboard, it helps me to use dots instead of drawn lines,  then once the dots are in the right spots, I draw the lines.)

With his cardboard legs in place, I started adding more tightly crumpled paper, and aluminum foil to define the legs, knees, hooves, chest, and rump. I fashioned a tail from pipecleaners, masking tape, and duct tape. I ended up having to chop off his rear end because I had made it way too large.

Once I was happy with  his shape, and everything was covered tightly with masking tape, I started the paper mache clay process. I put 2 layers of that on him, letting him dry completely in between. (For reference, that took about 3 1/2 batches of clay.) I wanted him to be a lot more smooth than he ended up being with just the paper mache clay, so I covered him with a thin layer of drywall joint compound. Once dry, I sanded him smooth with a damp sponge. Next I covered him in a layer of gesso made from glue, drywall joint compound, and cream colored acrylic paint. He was still a bit more gray looking than I wanted, so I covered him in a layer of store bought gesso mixed with a more yellowish-cream acrylic paint.

I freehanded his spots in light pencil before painting them a reddish brown. I painted his hooves, inside ears, tip of ossicones, and eyes with black acrylic. I finished his eyes with a white speck to mimic a reflection, then top coated them with a glossy varnish from Liquitex. Finally, I covered everything but his eyeballs with a coat of matte varnish.

Lastly, I purchased inexpensive faux fur sheets from Hobby Lobby and cut strips of it for his mane. I added the same type of fur in black to his ossicones and tail, and then white fur inside his ears. The final touch was a flashy set of false lashes from the dollar tree.

What a labor of love he was! He was my first big project, and he took a considerable chunk of time to complete, but I had so much fun with it. His next destination is a safari themed baby shower next month. I can’t wait to get started on a lion next!

7.5 ft tall paper mache giraffe by Amy Cole

Amy Cole's 7.5 ft tall paper mache giraffe

[Note from Jonni -I asked Amy if she had any additional photos so we could see how the armature was made. Fortunately, she had lots, so I’m adding them below. If you’d like to try making a giraffe yourself, or use her ideas to create an armature for another type of large animal, these photos are really going to help. Thanks, Amy!]

How Amy’s 7.5′ Tall Giraffe was Made:

2x2's and 2x4's cut for giraffe armature.
2x2's and 2x4's cut for giraffe armature.
Wood screwed together to create a solid base for the giraffe.
Wood screwed together to create a solid base for the giraffe.
Starting to block out the rounded forms.
Starting to block out the rounded forms.
Adding the cardboard leg patterns.
Adding the cardboard leg patterns.
Adding the head and neck.
Adding the head and neck.
Giraffe tail made with pipe cleaners and tape.
Giraffe tail made with pipe cleaners and tape.
Filling out more of the forms.
Filling out more of the forms.
Filling out the rump and tail.
Filling out the rump and tail.
Giraffe covered with masking tape.
Giraffe covered with masking tape.
Adding paper mache clay.
Adding paper mache clay.
Drawing the spots.
Drawing the spots.
Spots painted.
Spots painted.
More spots. :)
More spots. 🙂

20 thoughts on “7.5 feet Tall Giraffe”

    • You’re so kind, Jeanne-Marie! I searched and searched for resources while I was cobbling him together, and ran into much trial and error. Thought it might be helpful for someone else if I shared what I learned. 😉 Thank you for your thoughtful comments.

      Reply
  1. You did an excellent job . Very clever construction , great proportion , smooth finish , and a superb paint job. Your selection of color is perfect , and the pattern is laid out very thoughtfully. A+ in all areas !

    Reply
  2. HI AMI!
    GREAT JOB!
    I JUST PURPHASED MY OWN GIRAFFE PATTERN AND I WANTEDT TO ASK YOU IF YOU KNOW AND MAYBE CAN HELP….I WANT TO MAKE A WHOLE GIRAFFE ABOUT 9.5 FEET TALL!
    HOW MUCH DO I NEED TO ENLARGE THE PATTERN TO GET THE RIGHT DIMENSION FOR THE WHOLE ANIMAL?
    THANK YOU IN ADVANCE!

    Reply
    • Hi Maria,
      I didn’t enlarge it at all, and it was a pretty decent size for a 7.5 ft. I’m not exactly sure, but I bet you could enlarge it by 10 or 15% and it’d be the right size for 9.5 ft.
      Best of luck with your project… can’t wait to see photos! 😉

      Reply
  3. Absolutely cool! You will need to rent a trailer for transporting him. You should be very proud of yourself on making this guy come to life. Or girl? Have you named him/her? You have inspired us all!

    Reply
    • I know, right?! I can just see his eyelashes flying off as he rides in the back of the truck! Lol. My family took to calling him “Gary” as they stepped over and around him for a whole month. So, I guess we’re going with Gary! Haha Thank you for your sweet words, Rose!

      Reply
    • Thank you, Pauline! He took me about a month, working a couple hours in the evenings and weekends. Plus, I had to do some revisions that set me back a bit. He kept me busy, for sure! 🙂

      Reply

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