Make a Tiny Paper Mache Chihuahua
This free pattern shows you how to build your wire armature so all the proportions on your Chihuahua sculpture are right from the start.
Then you add crumpled foil to fill out the rounded forms – the pattern helps with that, too.
After your sculpture gets a thin layer of paper strips and paste, you’ll finish it with acrylic paint and varnish.
This little dog sculpture was the inspiration for my book Make Tiny Paper Mache Dogs. The book includes full step-by-step instructions, and patterns for 27 different breeds.
To make your Chihuahua you’ll need:
- Aluminum armature wire (or any light wire that’s easy to bend)
- Aluminum foil
- Masking tape
- Paper strips and paste
- Acrylic paint and varnish
Step 1 - the Armature:
Step 2 – Adding the Paper Mache
More videos below.
I had to make a new wire armature for the paper mache Chihuahua because I fiddled around with some experimental paste recipes that didn’t work very well. (Flour and water paste works just fine, so the experiments were silly, anyway).
I actually like the second version a bit better though, so maybe it was all for the best. (If you download the free pattern, you’ll be getting the “new improved version.” 🙂
When I made the second wire armature I didn’t have to work around a camera, so I was able to take more time and use smaller bits of foil, building up the shapes much like I would when working with clay.
The forms ended up being smoother. I also think the angle of the neck is more natural on the second version.
As I mention in the video below, the legs are also thinner, because I didn’t put any foil over the wire on the legs this time.
I did add small bits of foil for the feet, though.
And, I have to admit that I took some liberties when building the body shapes the second time I made him. On the first version, I tried to stay close to the shapes on the pattern.
The second time I played around a bit more. I was looking for “essence of Chihuahua,” rather than trying for a totally realistic version. I love using patterns, but they’re there to help us get started – we should never feel like we’re stuck with the shapes.
For some reason, I always like my sculptures better when I do them a second time.
I moved through the paper mache process in this video pretty fast, but it actually took about two hours to complete the paper mache layers – maybe even a bit more. It took most of the morning to build the new wire armature and add the paper mache. Not bad, really.
Step 3 – Painting the Tiny Chihuahua
Doesn’t she look cute, sitting between the baby elephant’s feet?
This little paper mache Chihuahua was a lot of fun to make. I took more time than I needed to — it would be possible to make this sculpture in three days, if someone was in a hurry. For instance, if someone needed to make a really fast present for Valentine’s day. 🙂
The tiny size made it easy for me to leave out a lot of detail, like sculpted eyes or toes. I could have used a stiff brush to make ‘fur’ in the home-made gesso, but I decided I didn’t even want that much detail. The simplicity of the project really appealed to me for some reason.
The wire armature makes it easy to change the posture and capture the attitude that you want, while still keeping all the proportions right.
As I mention in the video, I had so much fun making this little sculpture that I made lots more. You can see them all in my book . It’s now available on Amazon.com
If you’d like to make larger animal sculptures, I have a post showing you how to create armatures for animal sculptures.
28 thoughts on “Make a Paper Mache Chihuahua”
Thank you for sharing and teaching , I made the bunny from your video, made some mistakes but eventually was able to finish it, even add some fur to the tail and head, ! Gave it to one of my grands, she love it! Really looking forward to try the chihuahua , for they are one of my favorite dogs!! God bless you!
Hi Luz. Do you have a photo of the bunny you made? We’d love to see it.
The Chihuahua looks so real, it’s beautiful. You said that you used paper strips. You also mentioned you were going to make more Chihuahuas. Have you used your air dry clay recipe on the dogs? The air dry clay is my favorite.
Hi Peggy. I didn’t make any more Chihuahuas, but I had so much fun with this little guy that I made a whole book full of tiny dogs. And although I haven’t use the air dry clay recipe on anything this small, some of my readers have, and they turned out really nice. I would still use the paper strips on the legs, though, because it’s much easier to wind the paper around the skinny legs.
Hello Jonnie, what size of wire gage do you use for your smaller pieces such as the cute chihuahua? And does the gage change depending the size of the project? Liz
Hi Liz. For the tiny dogs, I used 11.5 gauge armature wire, although that’s an odd size and I can’t remember where I bought it. 10 gauge is a little heavier, but it’s easier to find and it work work just fine. If you want to make a larger sculpture, you would need heavier wire. It’s a trade-off between a wire that’s stiff enough to provide the needed support for the armature, and a wire that can be bent easily.
Could a life size, rideable (for an adult) rocking horse be made with paper mache?
I would love to make one, because the one I want comes from Holland, and it’s $8,000!
Thank you in advance.
Love the little chihuahua
Hi Sharon. I can’t see why a life size rocking horse couldn’t be made with a paper mache skin, but it would need a strong structure underneath to withstand the stresses of the rocking and rider. That would probably mean using a wood structure, and I wouldn’t know how to design one. Perhaps you could find instructions for a child-size rocking horse and scale it up.
Yes, I do not know how to do that either. :/
Thank you and I love your work!
Hi, I am making a dog that I would like to be in the same slouch/sitting position as your chihuahua. I noticed that you said you cut four pieces of wire, one for each leg. I was wondering what the advantages are of cutting and attaching each leg separately rather than cutting two longer pieces of wire and taking a wrap in the center, attaching to the backbone wire, thus creating two legs at once. Is it harder to get the spacing between the legs using that method? Also, do you take a wrap of each leg wire around the backbone wire? Thanks.
Hi Cat. For all the dogs in my tiny dogs book I did exactly as you suggested – I cut two long pieces for the legs, and each piece was used for one front leg and one back leg. The middle follows the backbone. I don’t think I made a video showing the armatures of the dogs in the book, but if you sign in to your Amazon account and look inside my book, you can see how it’s done on page 10 and 11.
I use masking tape to hold the backbone and the middle section of the leg pieces together.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful and prompt reply. I am working on my first project, trying to make a model of my sister’s dog for her Christmas gift. If it turns out, I will show you! I have been somewhat intimidated by the armature making process. But you have helped a lot! Thanks again.
I can’t wait to see it! Let me know if you have any more questions.
Well, here I am again. I am having trouble shaping my dog’s head (cut out of cereal box cardboard). It seems I did fine building up shape and “muscle” on bare wire for the legs, tail and body, but when it comes to the flat cardboard head, all my attempts make the head much too large. I guess I should make the cardboard head smaller so the added-on foil and masking tape doesn’t create a huge head. Do you have any other tutorials that show the process?
Hi Cat. For the armature, I have quite a few tutorials. The Panda was one of my first ones. He doesn’t have a wire armature, but the idea of not allowing the foil to go above the silhouette still applies. That’s really the trick to it. Add foil to the side, but not above the outline. There are also more detailed instructions in my book, of course. 😉 The chihuahua was the inspiration for that book, in fact. He was so much fun to make.
Jonni, Your video gave me the courage to get on doing the dogs. So far I have Tikki started. I will attach a photo. I’m ready to begin with the paper mache and am excited for the lesson on making fur. Any comments so far? LOL!
I am embarrassed to say that I haven’t finished “the begging dog” from your book. I have covered it with paper mache a couple of times, but I don’t like the “fur” I did, so it is still unpainted.
Thanks so much.
Thank you! Thank you! I am so very glad to have found you and ecstatic to share your knowledge. You are are a blessing!
Jonni, this is really wonderful to see. Now I don’t know whether or not to start over with the two small dogs I have started! They will go with Loki, my dog. (This is beginning to sound like a broken record!) I have already cut out the patterns, so I’ll probably proceed. I put paper mache on Pegasus’s wings tonight. Hopefully the clay and wire I added will be strong enough to hold them up. The wings are 2′ long, and the poor horse is 18″ tall.
I love this process and she is really cute already. Can’t wait for Part 2. I’ll have to give it a try.
Hi Jonni, I love your work. I’ve just finished a hare using your methods and have mentioned you in my blog. http://helenellwood.blogspot.co.uk/
Harry the Hare is now at a gallery in Derbyshire. Thank you for your continued inspiration : )
Hi Jonni, he/she looks great, I did a Chihuahua, that worked out really well, unfortunately, I did my usual and did not get a good pic of it, before someone bought it. 🙂 I used the cardboard cutout for the body, but just tightly scrunched foil for the legs, that gave the support, plus the movement need to get the legs right. I really wish I had got a good pic, as it was one of the few dogs I did that I was happy with the paint job I did.
I wish you’d taken a photo, too. I’d love to see how it came out.
Cartuna.net. Paper mâché artist Steven Wirtz.
Saw these at an art fair. he uses paper mâché on wire armatures, with funky paint. Most are about 12 – 18 inches high.
checkout the great paper mâché dogs including a chihuahua at
This guy’s animals are lighter and more whimsical in nature than Jonnies.
I can’t decide which one I like the most. Maybe the cat…?
Jonni, I love your chihuahua especially because it is small and feels more doable for a beginner like me. Thank you for sharing all your methods and recipes.
Hi Jonni, your chihuahua looks great. It will be fun picking a color for him 🙂