Next Project – Baby Elephant Sculpture

My house has run out of room for any more critters, even if they don’t eat or shed, so I’ve decided to be brave and try to make a paper mache elephant sculpture that will survive outside.  I’ll try to waterproof the paper mache with marine varnish, like I discussed in a previous post. Wish me luck.

Note: I chickened out, and didn’t put the elephant outside. I tested marine varnish on another sculpture, and it died. 🙁  If you’re looking for ideas for outdoor sculpting materials that actually work, check out my waterproof squirrel video, here.

As you can see, I haven’t got very far yet. I looked up a lot of baby elephants on Google and chose an Indian elephant baby for my model. I created the sketch and turned it into a pattern by adding a grid, and then transferred the pattern to a piece of press board to create the “bones” of my sculpture. Once the armature is all glued together I’ll start adding crumpled paper muscles and paper mache skin. When I post the finished project I’ll include the pattern in case you decide you need an elephant in your back yard, too.

Another note:  When the elephant was finished I made a video about this whole process. You can see the video about How to Make a Life-Sized Paper Mache Elephant here.

The finished sculpture is about 30 inches high. If I thought anyone would ever climb on it I would make it out of plywood, which is much stronger than the press board. However, I don’t have any plywood on hand, so I’m making do with what’s already here.

Click the link above to see how the elephant came out. And then click this link to see just a few of the elephants that have been made with my pattern since the video was put on YouTube.

8 thoughts on “Next Project – Baby Elephant Sculpture”

  1. Hello,
    I just purchased your animal book for my Kindle and I’m extremely excited to get started. I can’t wait to try my hand with the elephant. I’ve been looking for something like this for ages. A quick question. Do you have any tutorials or publications with patterns for a baby giraffe? I have a friend who would go nuts if I could make one for her? Thanks for all you do!

    • Hi Melinda. I don’t have a tutorial for making a baby giraffe, but I’ve been dreaming about making one for my own house for years. Maybe after I get the bunny and the ravens done, and I finish remodeling my house, I’ll have time to do it. Meanwhile, have fun with the book!

  2. On thing I came across at the garden store was some artist sculptures for outside and she had sprayed on concrete! lightly over the whole surface to make it look like a regular stone sculpture.

    • That’s an interesting idea. I actually thought about it, because my dad makes a lot of concrete garden and yard decor items as a hobby and I like the solid look of concrete. But a very thin layer of concrete is really brittle and easy to break, so you’d need to put in some reinforcement, like chicken wire. Which is a whole different art from paper mache. My dad could probably figure out how to make it all work, but I think I need to stick with the technology I already know.

      • Yes her bases where carved foam. You don’t want to move away from paper mache!! I love your work and feel very inspired so happy I found your blog!! I hope you figure out the water proofing as I want to make some garden sculptures!

        • I read a book about making garden art with concrete over foam. I even tried it myself, with somewhat disappointing results (see below). But wouldn’t it be fun to have a yard full of original sculptures? We’ll soon find out if the water proofing idea really works, because I’ll be putting the final paper mache layers on the the elephant this weekend. I hope it does work because my house is running out of room for all those animals, but it’s so much fun to make them I don’t want to stop.[img][/img]

  3. Yes, we can dream and i like your idea…
    As i like elephant also ! Very much….
    Can we have a plan of the baby elephant, please ? Thank to you if it’s possible…

    • Hi Marie. I didn’t intend to post the pattern until we could actually see how the sculpture turns out, but you talked me into it. You can find the pattern in my new post for the baby elephant sculpture in progress, plus a few pictures to show how I put the pattern pieces together to make an armature that stands up.

      Have fun. And be sure to show us your own sculpture when you finish it!

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