Paper mache animals can look like real bronze with this easy technique.
You can see find the deer head pattern here. There’s a video on that page that shows you how the antlers are made, and how it was painted with realistic colors.
It took me several tries to get the patina on the bronze coating the way I wanted it. You’ll see me doing that in the video. In the end, the deer came out really nice.
I don’t normally make two of the same sculpture, but I wanted a bronzed deer head to go with an abstract painting my daughter gave me. They’re both now on the wall in my living room.
I ordered my bronze coating and patina from Brick in the Yard. They have some great videos, too, so look for them on YouTube.
I’ve used the bronze coating from Sculpt Nouveau before, on my Ballerina Bunny. That time, I used the Tiffany Green patina and it wasn’t nearly as bright as the Light Green patina that I used on my deer. (I should have followed my own instructions – but I always have to experiment with something new!)
I’ve also used their iron coating – and I love it. The patina creates a much softer rusting effect on the nice black iron surface – you can see how that looks on my raven. I faked the same look with acrylic paint on my gorilla mask.
Don’t have time to watch the video on this page? Here’s a shortened version of the process:
Step 1: Spray the paper mache with primer
Use a spray primer over your paper mache animal. I used an iron oxide colored primer, although I lost the cap so I don’t know what the Rustoleum people call the color. The bronze will completely cover the primer so it doesn’t actually matter what color the primer is.
You could use an acrylic gesso, if you’d rather do it that way. But don’t use the DIY gesso recipe on this site, because it’s too absorbent, and you’d need to use more coats of the bronze coating. That stuff isn’t cheap!
Step 2: The first coat of bronze coating
Stir the bronze coating, and then paint it on over the primer. You don’t want to leave brush marks, so stipple the wet paint after you brush it on. This will make it look like you’ve got little points all over it, but don’t worry – the coating will level out as it dries, and it won’t leave any brush marks.
Step 3: The second coat of bronze paint
When the first coat is dry, brush on the second coat. You need to work fast, because the patina doesn’t work on dry paint.
I did this in several stages, because it isn’t possible to coat the whole deer head, including antlers, before some of the paint starts to dry.
Step 4: Spray on the patina
Spray the patina lightly over your wet bronze coating.
I used the Light Green patina this time. I should have used the Tiffany Green patina, like I did for the Ballerina Bunny. The Light Green came out very bright, as you can see in the next photo.
Step 5: Wait for the patina to turn green
The patina takes time to turn the bronze coating green. My spray bottle was running out of patina, so I didn’t get an even coat of patina on the deer. That’s why you can see the runs. I used a brush to stipple areas, which you can see on the antlers, and that came out better.
But it was still way too bright for my taste.
Step 6 (Totally Optional): Wipe off some of the patina
I used a wet paper towel to remove much of the patina.
I only did this because I didn’t like the brightness of the patina I chose to use. I didn’t do this when I bronzed my bunny, because the Tiffany Green patina is a much softer color and I liked it immediately.
Step 7: Add a coat of varnish
I used DecoArt Soft Touch varnish to seal the bronze and patina, but any good acrylic varnish will work. The varnish may darken your patina, so test a small area before you apply it. For even faster way to seal your paper mache, use a clear coat spray varnish.
I’m going to hang my deer head next to the abstract acrylic painting my daughter gave me, that I showed you in the video. If you’d like to see her other work (it’s awesome!) click here. 🙂
So tell us what you think – do you like the way the bronze coating looks on paper mache? Is it something you’d like to play with? Or do you prefer the deer head painted in realistic colors?
And have you used a metal coating on paper mache, or used acrylic paint to mimic a bronze or iron coating?
Whew – that’s a lot of questions! But go ahead – let us know what you think in the comments below.