Ballerina Bunny Gets Paper Mache

“Bronzed” Ballerina Bunny, Part 5

We’re coming down to the finish, finally! I spent at least 5 hours adding paper mache clay and the shop towel mache to the upper portion of the bunny, and now she’s just waiting for her final bronze coat. I may try tinting the bronze in a few places, like the casting of the original Degas sculpture that I’m loosely plagiarizing. I haven’t totally decided yet, though.

If you haven’t seen the other videos in this series, you can find them all here, on YouTube.

By the way, we had a small oops yesterday – Jessie mistakenly sent emails to my list instead of to her own subscribers. The Aweber email system isn’t as easy to figure out as it should be, but we’ll work on it. I hope nobody minded.

Ballerina Bunny Gets Paper MacheAnd, now that my house is almost put back together again, it’s time for me to start on my next big project. Since I need a new best-selling book (or video?) to help pay myself back for all the trim and flooring I just bought, I’m hoping I can get some feedback from you. I have two things in mind, and I’m not sure which one I should do first.

The first idea is a book with patterns and instructions for making the bunny, cat and puppy dolls that I sold at art fairs years ago. They were so popular, my parents started helping me with them — the photo is from a big article about my dad and the dolls that appeared in the Bellingham Herald.  (Sorry about the quality of the photo – I haven’t got my scanner hooked up yet.)  People really did love them, and they aren’t terribly difficult to make. The bodies and ears are soft cotton velour, and the heads are painted paper mache.

The other idea would be a bit more challenging, especially considering my primitive videography skills and the size of the project. I also think it might appeal to fewer people, but I’m not sure. It would be a full-length DVD, complete with printable patterns, for a life-sized paper mache baby giraffe. It’s the kind of thing that would be really special in the corner of a nursery or in a pediatrician’s office (and I’ve wanted one for my own living room, for years…) Amazon would probably make me charge about 20 bucks for it.

Any votes? Ideas? Anything I haven’t thought of yet, but you think I should work on, instead? I love getting feedback, so please chime in.

To see the rest of the Ballerina Bunny series:

36 thoughts on “Ballerina Bunny Gets Paper Mache”

  1. Another option for marketing your knowledge would be to create a Ning site, and sell online classes. You could do a step by step videos on individual projects, include PDF downloads of the pattern(s), and sell the classes either as a bundle or as individual projects. I do a lot of online art journaling courses this way. I pay for the course, get given a password and access to the site and can then download all the video tutorials. You would also cut out the middle man and reap all the profits yourself and have complete and total control over the content.

  2. Hi Jonni.
    I am feeling ill with a disc prolapse and I found your website.wonderful!!!
    Are two days I look at your website and videos, books I’ve ordered.
    Your work is so beautiful and amazing, I can not cease to look again
    I am looking for good long paperclay,I work my dolls, sculpt with ProSculpt, but there are limits, I would also like to do other figures.I can see pictures of your baby dogs??
    thank you for your generous guidance

    • I do hope you’re feeling better soon! By the way, did you see my latest post, with the new air-dry clay recipe? Since you work with dolls, if you ever try the new recipe I’d love to hear what you think – and any suggestions would be very much appreciated.

  3. hi i love to play with messy clays and muddy things . the giraffe would be a must have for me always wanted one in my back yard , i water proof them with paverpol stands up to the weather well i have a peacock diplayed on their website now [ the head office web site if you care to have a look , love all your work regards sally

  4. Jonni,
    I agree with the concensus of the doll book first. Are they dolls a child could play with? I have another idea for you. How about a book/DVD on making small Christmas ornaments like the little humming bird you did not that long ago? People just love to make ornaments as gifts.

    • Good idea, Eileen. I’ll start doing some research and experiments, and see if I can come up with a book’s worth of ornaments. Maybe a few other holidays, too? Thanksgiving turkeys would be fun…

      • Yes! It could be a book on “Holiday Ornaments”- Easter bunny, eggs, baskets, shamrocks , valentines hearts or cupids, 4th of july stars, halloween could be a ton of things, thanksgiving, heck you could even do flag day or presidents day-mini Mt Rushmore! Good luck on whatever project you choose.

      • Oh – and I forgot to answer your first question. The dolls can be played with by children if they’re old enough. Teething babies tend to chew off the bunny noses, and paper mache really isn’t what you’d consider “edible,” I think. I sold as many dolls as I could make, but I don’t think anyone ever bought one for a child. I think it would be a lovely present for an older child, though – three years old or more.

  5. I jumped right in and mixed up your paper mache clay recipe. I had two traditionally done layered paper mache birds already started and covered one of them with the clay. It was a total success! I cannot believe how hard/permanent the surface is. I then did a third bird with the clay directly applied on the armature as you suggest and it was also a total success…so far. I am somewhat anxious/apprehensive about the final painting since my surfaces are not particularly smooth.
    Love your ballerina and look forward to the faux bronze finish happening.

    • Hi Carol. I’m glad your birds are coming out the way you like. For smoothing, you can add a layer or three of gesso. I make a fake gesso with glue and joint compound, or use basically the fast-setting paste recipe that was in this video, using glue, water, vinegar and plaster of Paris. Both types may get tiny cracks when they dry, but you can smooth them out with a lightly damp sponge. You can also “sand” them with the sponge, which is a lot easier than real sanding. As far as that goes, you can also damp-sand the dried clay itself, although it takes some effort because it dries so hard.

  6. Jonni,
    I vote for the giraffe and am ready to place my order now. Any thing you do would be fantastic but I sooooo want to make a giraffe. Kat

  7. Totally sweet ballerina bunny must try to make one myself. The videos are so complete I almost believe I could make one. Keep up the good work. I’ll keep checking in for inspiration. Thanks, Rosemary

  8. Shucks, I can’t thread a needle without sticking myself in the nose or worse, but I assume we are only voting for which one comes first? So I’ll vote for the floor-sized figure, as I’ve put a couple of these together and never been happy with the frame-up at all. When you get to the dolls, I’ll just sort of horse along as I can, knowing you won’t use overly-sophisticated sewing terms that I won’t understand!

    In the meantime, since the Degas bronze sort of inspired the bunny, I’m with you on colouring her out like that. She’s nicer than his ballerina, in that she doesn’t look as entranced with herself as that young lady.

    • Heh – I’m intending to use a toy sewing machine, the kind that costs $12 and is intended for light mending. I gave away my real machine years ago. It goes so slow, I don’t think even I will be able to sew my finger to a doll part.

      Degas’ ballerina may have had an attitude after standing still for so long. His reviewers had some harsh things to say about that sculpture – did you read some of their comments? I can’t remember where I found them, maybe on Wikipedia.

  9. I’d love to see a big giraffe…I’ve always wanted something large like that sitting in my studio. I truly enjoyed finding your site and watching you videos. I’ve made one piece, the crock, which I sent you a picture but I am now ready to do another. Donating a piece to a school or library is a great idea. I make dolls with polymer clay and knit animals so a larger project would be great. Thanks for sharing all your hard work…you’re amazing.

  10. Both ideas are very good but the consensus is, the dolls first and I do concur. I have an idea, if you can approach the community college or the university to see if they have a video program, could they do a video of your next project for credits? That way it becomes a win win situation for everybody. Just an idea. Many years ago (too many) my class had to make a playground for children using all donated materials. It turned out to be a scavenger hunt of sorts, but we pulled it off. We got donated boxes of huge sizes to small, donated play clothes, paper etc. That project kept a lot of kids very happy for the summer.

  11. Your ballerina bunny is absolutely fabulous! It is such a pleasure to watch you work. Your videos are by far my favorite reality show to watch! Thank you for sharing!

  12. I second the dolls and the giraffe!!!!!!!!!!! But, I would buy the video if produced. Love that bunny. Painted or bronzed it is a winner!

  13. Hallo Jonni!
    I think a book is a very good idea. And I would love to learn to do dolls. Now I have been waiting for the ravens and the frog who is reading a book. The idea to donate it to the local library is very good. I would like to do that here in my area. All ideas will be very interesting to work with. And I will be with them. It is so nice to have your support, and you are an awesome teacher and very capable to work with paper Mache and sculpture in your videos. Some words from me. Have a good day.
    Greetings from Gisela

    • I forgot about that frog! Thanks for reminding me. I still will do the ravens, and the reading frog (or Toad?) still sounds like a great idea, too. It’s good to have fun projects to work on as a break when I’m putting my books together, because I sometimes need an excuse to get away from the computer.

  14. Definitely the “first idea is a book with patterns and instructions for making the bunny, cat and puppy dolls that I sold at art fairs years ago.” Should be first, then the other one. (I mean you gotta make some quick dough to pay for the home improvements quick right? ha)

    Looking forward to it and I’ll be your first buyer. 🙂

  15. Like the ballerina bunny!

    Am worried if you’ve used your oatmeal cerial bowl for a glue pot.

    I’ve been concerned with the scale of my work and happy to see that the bunny has some size. I’d quess that it’s about two feet tall. My angst is that when I make anything small, it is impossible to have responsible sharpness in little bitty things. Your lame trim looks great and you were able to blend in the edges. A smaller figure and you wouldn’t have been able to do that.

    Go on with the bronze . . . but I think that painting a better idea. Actually, I think I’ve never seen a bronze, dancing rabbit.


  16. I think the first idea sounds good, because there is more than one animal! For me it would be easier just to do a paper mache head. The ballerina bunny is looking good!

  17. Personally I love both your book and DVD ideas and I would purchase both. Since I have to choose which one first it would be the dolls. I’m getting a new sewing machine soon and your dolls would be a wonderful way for me to play with the paper clay and the cloth!


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