The Bullfrog Head Got His Green

Get a fast start on your next paper mache project or hand-made gift with Jonni’s easy downloadable patterns for masks, animal sculptures and faux trophy mounts. The patterns help you create a beautiful work of art, even if you’ve never sculpted anything before.

bullfrog tn

My tissue paper arrived a few days ago, and the Giant African Bullfrog Head is now finished – except for the walnut plaque he’ll be mounted on, which should arrive today. If you didn’t see the previous videos, you can watch them here.

Even though I admit that it would have been faster to paint the frog, I’m really having fun using the colored tissue paper. That’s probably just because the process is essentially paper mache using colored paper. I did experiment this time with using Soft Gel Gloss instead of paste when adding the layers of tissue paper, and I’m really happy with the result. The fragile tissue paper doesn’t tear as easily as it does when using the water-based paste.

I also experimented with the crackled-paint technique where you paint on a thin coat of Elmer’s Glue-All (PVA glue) first, and then paint over the wet or tacky glue with acrylic paint. This was less successful, but I did learn from the experience, and I think my next attempt will work better.

You can download the pattern for the paper mache bullfrog “faux trophy mount” here.

The metallic paint set I used on the eyes is available in most hobby stores, I think. (We don’t have a hobby store or art supply store in my town.) You get 32 different colors in the set, but most of the tubs are tiny. If I decide to do lots of colorful creatures with bit, shiny eyes, I think I’d get the Jacquard Lumiere brand paints instead, just because I’ve had good experiences with them in the past. For this fellow, though, the Plaid Folk Art paints worked just fine.

Bullfrog Mounted on Walnut Plaque
Bullfrog Mounted on Walnut Plaque

Let me know what you think of this entire process – from taping the pattern together all the way through to finishing the silly frog with the colored tissue paper. And if you do decide to make a frog of your own, I do hope you’ll show us how he turned out.

Update: The plaque just arrived, and here’s how the frog looks like mounted:

Now I’m thinking that maybe I should have ordered the oval plaque instead of the shield. Do you think it’s too much for our humble bullfrog? I ordered the plaque from

40 thoughts on “The Bullfrog Head Got His Green”

  1. Jonni Hi again, sorry about the double up on my previous post. My pictures were too big so had to re-size them but it uploaded both texts. Here is another photo of the toad from another angle. The droplets on him are light rain as it started to shower as I was bringing him in from the garage. I love your cat too, he is sooo much like mine it is not funny. Always wanting to be part of the action, and not happy unless he is getting 100 per cent of the attention. He is my next project based pretty much on how you did yours as they are both the same size and as fluffy just different colours. Thanx again Baz….

    • Very nice toad, Basil – I hope you’ll tell us how you got that interesting texture under his chin. It’s very realistic. And I love the colors – is it based on a particular species of toad?

      The shield is very nice, as well. I wish I had the tools for making my own, because they’re fairly expensive if you have to order them. (And my cat says “hi” to your cat. πŸ™‚ )

      • Jonni Hi, Yes it is loosely based on the cane toad that is making such a nuisance of itself over in Australia. The “warts” were done with a broken ballpoint pen. I used the thick end of the bottom hollow clear piece. Here in New Zealand the dry wall product used in the gesso is called Gib Plus 4 so you can add that to your list of the names in different countries. I know what you mean about the cost of things. Here in NZ we can pay dearly for a lot of things from overseas because of the exchange rate, that is why I make most of the things I want or need. Working as a maintenance worker here at Auckland Grammar School with access to all the right tools and materials certainly helps too. Thanks for your comments, look out for my jack rabbit coming soon.

        • I look forward to seeing how your jack rabbit comes out. I thought the smaller pieces made it more difficult to put the pattern together. Did you have any trouble with it?

          • Not really, I actually find that part of the process quite therapeutic. I did have a bit of trouble with cracking in the clay around the base of the ears. I have sorted that now so am ready to paint. What was the name of the programme you used to make the patterns. I would like to try it out on some of our New Zealand critters and is there a chance you might be making more available?

  2. Hi Jonni, I have been meaning to write since I discovered your great website about a month or two ago. What got me interested in Paper mache again was a programme on Discovery about the work they do in Taluna Mexico, then I found your website. Wow you are certainly very talented and I am so impressed with how you are willing to share what you do with world. I started off with the bullfrog although I made mine more of a toad as I work with a chap with a nickname “Toad”and it was always going to be for him. To see how all your recipes worked I started with paper strips then paper clay for detail, finishing off with a thicker coat of gesso followed by a thinner one. I made a few mistakes along the way, the biggest being that I got one eye bigger than the other. I made the shield out of Canadian Cedar but think it is a little small. I have nearly finished the jack rabbit and have the baby elephant at the masking tape stage. Thanks again for all the things you do and share and looking forward to your assessment of “The Toad”

  3. Jonni Hi, I have been dying to write to you since I discovered your great website and all the wonderful work you do. What got me interested in paper mache again was a programme on Discovery which featured the work they do in Taluna Mexico, then I discovered you. Thanks for everything you share with the world, you are truly amazing and very talented. I have just finished my first attempt at paper mache since school and that is your bullfrog. I made mine more of a toad as I work with someone whose nickname is “Toad” so it was always going to be for him. To get a real good idea how all your recipes work I started with paper strips, then paper clay, finishing it off with a thicker coat of gesso for the details, followed by a thinner one to fill any remaining pits and scratches. All colours are acyrlics with clear nail varnish for the eyes. I made a few mistakes along the way, the main one being I got one eye larger than the other. I am also working on the jack rabbit, which is nearly finished and have also got the baby elephant to the masking tape stage. I wish I had more time to devote to my new found pastime as I really love it unfortunately though I still have to work a 40 hour or more week. Keep up your excellent endeavors and looking forward to your comments on my toad. Regards Basil.

  4. Here is the picture of my cloud that I made for my Son’s room It is paper mache with spray glue and pillow stuffing all over the paper mache.

  5. I was trying to send you a picture of a cloud I made of paper mache then spray glue and pillow stuffing added for my Son’s room. I don’t know if the picture is attaching.

    • The image didn’t come through. Try resizing it smaller, and then try to upload it to another comment. That usually works.

  6. Hello, Jonni, after hard work and finished the bullfrog. I make a small summary of the work I had to do it. First I thank you for being able to access these patterns, which I think is fantastic. All my life art fascinated me, but things in life and the eagerness that leads to find a job and survive with, because not been much time to dedicate it to art. a few months ago and seen your videos on youtube and love, as God put animals to accompany us on our journey through life are the maximum. I present my Bullfrog, where I live it is not the role with which you cover the blue, however I cosmeti with Kraft paper of 110 gr / mt. The end cap court 6mm wood reforse inside with copper wire. For the finish, I hit a few ovals on a rag This is for the kitchen looking for a textured paper, finally paint with acrylic colors. Later I send the pictures of the whole process that I am commenting. Jonni’s all far appreciate Fabio J. Chacon thanks.

    • Thank you so much for sharing this with us, Fabio. Your bullfrog looks really nice! And I would love to see those photos you mention that show how you built it with the materials that you had available.

      • Thanks Jonni, here are the photos I promised you, to this my cat approving the resultado.Igualmente I mention that soon finished my hare and the best by a brother who has Mastercard, I’ll have your book soon arrived. I would also like to acquire the pdf file from your true elefante.por live in San Juan Giron, Colombia Heritage Village. Greetings to all who visit your Web page. Thank You.

  7. Hi Jonni,
    I’m enjoying your website and getting lots of ideas for my own work.
    You mentioned a 3D program you used to design the Bullfroh head. I couldn’t quite catch the name. Please let us know what is is.
    You also asked for feedback as to whether we’d like more Pepakura-made templates. I certainly would, especially australian animals if you can knock a few out.
    Keep up the inspiring work.

    • Hi Michael. I’m using the Silo program, but there are free programs that are supposed to do the same thing. I really like the program, though, so I’m going to stick with it. It was pretty easy to use. I especially like the YouTube videos by Glen Southern for online training.

      I know of several Australian animals that I would love to try. Right now I’m finishing up a jackrabbit. It’s coming out pretty well. Love the ears.

  8. Jonni, This is so interesting, I have been trying to learn to make wood carved marionettes, after looking at your paper mΓ’chΓ© art I’m going to have to try it.

    • Wow! She’s beautiful (and the frog is great, too.) Do you use your marionettes in a stage show somewhere? Do you have a video of them on stage out on YouTube, perhaps?

      • i don’t use them, I’m just trying to learn how to make them. This one is wood, after I gave him a hair cut he looks more like a man now. Your frog and wildman mask have me excited to try making a realistic frog marionette using your painting and tissue ideas with the clay and cast cloth material and paper clay idea like your wildman mask.

  9. I have been visiting your site for a few years now, since I first became interested in doing paper mache. That is when I realized how truly “artful” paper mache can be. Since that time I have experimented with different methods (still want to try your paper mache clay recipe). My latest attempt was made using pulp made from pressed cardboard and I wanted to share her with you. (The hat is the strip and glue method.) Thanks for your inspiration!

  10. You have incredible work Jonni. I wish to learn alot from you. Is it possible for you to send me electronic copies of your books. to tell you the truth I can only afford very little on print outs. I am a student and I want to study papier mache sculpture. I can see you are one of the best sculptors in papier mache. Right now am writing a proposal hoping to find some funding. If you can help as quickly as possible I will be so much thankful to you. I am a Malawian (Africa), am 34, a single mum with two kids.

    • Hello, Eva. I wish I could help you out, but I don’t actually have any electronic copies of the books. The exception is the Make Animal Sculptures With Paper Mache Clay book, which is on Kindle, but it is only available through However, there are over 300 posts here on the blog, and I have written tutorials on the blog about almost every technique I use. If you have good Internet access, that would be the least expensive way to get the information you need. We also have a very active community here, especially over on the Daily Sculptors’ Page, and any question you might have will almost always get an answer or two. I hope you’ll join us.

      • Thanks Jonni for responding, there is so much information on this web that I do not need the book, but my worry is about academic referencing. It seems like the internet has got so much to offer but through blogs which is questionable. I am writing a proposal entitled “EXPLORING PAPER MACHE AS A CONTEMPORARY COMMERCIAL MATERIAL IN SCULPTURE.” In comparison to other artists/projects/books I found out that you are already living my dream. So I need to explore your books. However, in Malawi it is not easy to buy things from the net, it takes too long. I have to submit my proposal on 29th of January to be supported financially otherwise I will loose the financial support. If you can do anything to help me please do, I will be so much thankful and I promise to be cooperative and faithful.

      • This is amazing as is your work πŸ˜€ I’m going to make one for my mum since she loves frogs πŸ™‚ I’ve been a fan for years now and I’ve done some animals thank to you πŸ™‚ You inspired me πŸ™‚ I do have a blog up but theres not much on there right now since I just made it but if you like i can send you a link if you want to take a look πŸ˜€

        • Hi Abi. I would love to see your blog. You can leave a link in a comment, and then our other readers can see it too. And I hope you’ll let us see your frog when it’s done!

          • of course πŸ™‚ I have done one of your other animals which is the elephant but its just not as big lol πŸ™‚ I am also doing your type of work for my final college project πŸ™‚

    • Now I’m trying to remember how the book ended – at one time, it was one of my favorite books, but now I can’t remember any of it. However, I’m not sure we should put a name to our poor “trophy” frog. Gives me shivers. πŸ˜‰

      • LOL. That was exactly how I felt about the book. It doesn’t really end. Sure they beat the weasels out of Toad Hall. But you know adventure will ensue the next page except there is no next page. Toad had so many near misses I always kinda expected a bad ending. And even a second reading I still expected…. but no. He always gets away with the most stupid, daring stuff. So no, this isn’t our dear friend Mr. Toad.

        • Now I’ve really got to go back and read the book. I didn’t remember any of that! I’m off to the library.

          (My grandson wanted the frog to be all green, but that would look too much like Kermit…)

  11. Jonni
    The trick with the crackle effect is heat, also the thickness of the PVA glue, use a thin layer of glue you will get fine cracks, use a thick layer, you will get bigger cracks. Paint the paint on as soon as you have applied the glue, and as soon as you down your brush, get a hair dryer on it, the quicker the better. It takes a few attempts to get it but once you have, you will be using it for everything πŸ™‚

  12. Jonni, The frog looks really good. I like the tissue paper overlay. That is what I did with that tricorn vase using construction paper. You achieved a nice variation with your layers. Thanks for sharing, Kat

    • I will certainly do that. The walnut plaque is supposed to show up today. I hope it works with the frog, but I won’t know for a few more hours.

      • The plaque arrived, and I posted the photo. I’m not sure I ordered the right shape – the oval might have worked better. What do you think?

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