Bobcat Sculpture

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African Animals Pattern Set.
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This sculpture is all about the spots. The bobcat is 21″ from nose to tail, 14″ high and 12″ wide. It was made with papier mache and paper clay over a wire, paper and masking tape form.

Lately I’ve been using Dan Reeder’s method of creating the inside form. Dan’s the author of Papier-Mache MonstersBobcat Sculpture, which I read last month. I’ve been intending to tell you about it ever since I first read it, but all these cats have kept me too busy.

Dan’s been building with papier mache for years, and he has a number of tips and tricks that I didn’t know about. I’ve been able to translate some of his methods to realistic animal sculptures (I’m really not into monsters all that much). The one that has helped the most has been his use of wire frames, made from heavy coat hanger wire.

I still think my method of using a pattern cut from cardboard or plywood is best if you’re building something really big, like an elephant sculpture or room-sized dinosaur. The pattern lets you know from the beginning exactly how the finished sculpture will turn out. It would work especially well if a number of people are helping with the project.

But Dan’s method allows for twists and turns that can’t be achieved with my patterns. It also allows you to be a bit more inventive and spontaneous – because the legs and back can be bent after the crumpled paper has been covered with masking tape, allowing you to put your critter in a pose that you may not have thought of before you had the pieces in front of you. I wish I could tell you exactly how he does it, but it wouldn’t be nice for me to tell Dan’s secrets on my blog – so check your local library to see if they have their copy yet.

I’ve really been having fun lately with the Glazing Liquid made by Golden. It makes it a lot easier for me to get the natural look I want. I’ve been looking for a product like it for months, but never used the right word when searching for it. My daughter Jessie, (who recently painted a pretty nice gourd), knew what to call it – why didn’t I ask her sooner?

16 thoughts on “Bobcat Sculpture”

    • You can make your armature with just crumpled paper and masking tape. Or you can use aluminum foil. As long as you can get the armature to have the shapes you want, it will work. I used wire for this sculpture, but most of my sculptures are built around cardboard patterns, like the one on this page.

  1. Hi !
    I have to help my 7th grader to make a paper mache bobcat. Do you have any guidelines I could possibly follow?
    The Bobcat is amazing….but I don’t know where to start.

    • Hi Jess. I didn’t make a pattern for the bobcat, but I do have a number of other tutorials on the site that might help. Although the shapes would be different, obviously, the best video series would probably be the one I did for the cat sculpture. You can find links to all of the cat videos if you scroll down this page.

      In the cat videos you’ll see how a pattern is made, and your student will need to find a good profile photo of a bobcat to start with. A Google image search should help. I often need to combine several photos, since cats don’t like to pose the way I need them to. After that, the sculptor can follow all the instructions in the cat videos up to the point of adding the paper mache clay.

      At that point, the artist can either mix up some of the paper mache clay (using mineral oil instead of the linseed oil, which contains chemicals) and follow the instructions for applying it. Or, he or she can use traditional paper strips and paste, which will also work just fine. Ignore the heavy texturing I did for my cat in the videos – I got a little carried away. :)

      I hope the bobcat turns out great – I would definitely like to see it when it’s done.

  2. Like the bobcat – love the bobcat – I’ve never seen more beauty and realism in any sculpture of a wild cat. Like I always say- “God was having a particularly good day when he invented the cat.” And so were you when you sculpted this one. Joanne

    • Hi Joanne – I’m glad you like the bobcat. He’s actually one of my favorites, too. But I didn’t take any photos when I made him. At the time I was trying really hard to get a series of cats done for a show (the show was eventually cancelled), so I didn’t have time to stop for photos. The need to hurry was actually the reason that the paper mache clay recipe was born.

  3. hieee….. ur sculptures r really awsum……….
    can u tell me how to make a lion or a tiger out of paper mache without using sculpey???????

  4. Hey Jonni,
    I come by every so often. I’m so flattered that you mentioned my name and book! I love the bobcat. Your work is full of life. It’s great. And I love that you share your thoughts and techniques.
    Keep up the wonderful work!
    PS. I did add a link to your site on mine. And I still haven’t forgotten about doing a “guest something” sometime (if you still want me). I’ve just been so busy. Aren’t we all?

    • I hope you’ve been busy selling tons of books. I keep telling everyone they should buy it. One of the best books I’ve ever read about paper mache.

  5. I am a wildlife artist and a naturalist so nI know my animals and their proportions.I am greatly impressed with your many skills.Do you do on line sales and if so could you indicate prices of your works. Especially the bobcat. Thank you. Gabriel

    • Hi Gabirel. Thanks for the kind words about the bobcat. He’s definitely one of my favorites, too. The online gallery that I’ve been threatening to create is finally up and running. You can find my available sculptures on their brand-new page. I’ve priced the bobcat at $275, shipping included. Feedback is always welcome.

  6. I’m in love! Bobcat is great! I love the dynamic poses you’re getting on these cats, Jonni. I’m really looking forward to seeing close up how the paper clay looks.


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