Concrete Lion Head Sculpture – the Latex Mold

lion mask patternNote: I recently created a new lion mask pattern. It’s a great choice if you love lions but you don’t want to hand-sculpt a lion’s face out of clay and cast it in concrete. The downloadable lion mask pattern is made with cardboard pieces taped together, plus one layer of paper mache and that lovely raffia mane (made with a cheap table skirt). It isn’t waterproof, though, like the concrete lion in the video.

And now, back to the original post:

I finished the latex mold today, and I went to the store for the Quikwall concrete mix for the final sculpture. The lion head should be finished in a few days, after the concrete has had time to cure.

Someone asked why I didn’t use silicone instead of latex, and there’s two reasons – first, the latex is somewhat less expensive (but still not cheap!) and second, latex is the type of mold that’s often used by people who make concrete garden art. I assume there must be a reason for that. I believe I read somewhere that it holds up well when concrete is poured into it many times. I only intend to make one or two lion heads, but you never know. 🙂

I apologize for the iffy focus on the video – my camera doesn’t work well so early in the morning.

Links to items mentioned in the video:

Here’s a really good article about latex (PDF).
This is the Quikwall concrete product I mentioned in the video.
And this is where I bought my latex.

19 thoughts on “Concrete Lion Head Sculpture – the Latex Mold”

    • Hi Rick. I sculpted the lion head with WED clay, then created the mold using Latex. I didn’t much like the Latex mold, so I did it over using Smooth-On Rebound 25 silicone.

  1. Thank you for sharing with us. I came across your site at exactly the right time. I was building a castle for the children’s area of the library, for summer reading promotion. I wanted to use paper mache, but had never attempted this before. I used regular paper mache for the top of the castle, then came across your paper clay recipe. I used that for the little balcony windows and it ended up looking just like blocks. It was very easy to work with. Your experimenting gave me the confidence needed to just try it.

  2. Nice one part mold.

    Is this intended for use outdoors as a hanging decoration? If so, what will you use to hang it? Also how much will it weigh? How would your new paper mache recipe work with your mold? Which casting material would be the lightest to use-your paper mache or the product you will use from Lowes?

    I’m guessing this Lowes product probably mimics stone so you can have a stone lion or two as a mascot around your door to keep out undesirables!

    • Yes, it’s my first outside sculpture. I haven’t weighed the finished piece yet, but I’ll do that tomorrow when I remove it from the mold. There’s a wire embedded in the concrete for hanging. I discovered that the type of concrete mix I’m using is white instead of the usual grey, which is kind of disappointing.

      I’m sure the air-dry clay recipe would be lighter, but it couldn’t go outside. I’m also not sure it would be strong enough without some kind of backing. Maybe, though – it does work really well in rubber molds.

      • Jonni- since you don’t like the white, your next tutorial could be on how to color/paint/stain white concrete! I did notice from your link about the cement, there are pigments you can add to the cement as well.
        Have you aver played around with papercrete or hypertufa? Both of those are also said to be good for outdoor use and would be a much lighter wall hanging. I imagine you could use either of those with your latex mold.
        Also, do you know if you can get the cement in smaller increments than the 50 lb bag? How much cement did you use out of the 50 lbs?

        • Yes, the bag says they have about 20 different colors you can buy from the company. That gets a bit tricky unless you mix up enough to completely fill the mold at one go – it’s really hard to match colors in two different batches. But it would be fun to try. I have not tried papercrete, but my dad does a lot of work with the hypertufa. It’s fairly fragile, so I don’t think I could use a thin wall of it, like I’m doing with the lion. (He’s coming out of the mold today! I won’t know if I caught all the details until I pull off the mold, so wish me luck!)

          I don’t think you can buy a smaller bag of the Quikwall – I was happy it didn’t come in 90 pound bags like a lot of the concrete mixes. I can lift 50 pounds, but 90 is over my limit. I didn’t measure how much I used, but there’s more than half the bag left over. I need to get it sealed up in a plastic bucket, or the moisture in the air will ruin it.

  3. You are such a clever experimenter, Jonni! Your experiments have a knack of working out so well.
    And like all your videos, it seems we cant wait for the next instalment.
    Jim’s sand support suggestion works – I heard this years ago from a sculptor collegue. I hadn’t thought of cat litter but I imagine it would be easier to clean up and use again.

  4. Hi Jonni,
    I love your website. It has been a delightful inspiration for my creative side. I retired not too long ago and wanted to pursue something different artistic wise. I found your site and your book on Paper Mache Animals. The rabbit is my first attempt at anything like this. Having a lot of fun. I am also working on a bobcat and a sculpture of my grand daughter. Painting them seems to be a challenge, getting the right colors.
    Thanks for your ongoing work.

    • What a nice rabbit – he seems so expectant, as if he’s waiting for a few leaves of lettuce or something. Very nice. I hope we get to see your other sculptures, too, when they’re done.

      • Thanks Jonni,
        Oop, First time I have posted and just realized I put this in the wrong place to share. :-0
        Sorry about that.
        I am fascinated by the lion head mold. Will have to try it when I have a bit more skill.
        Thanks for your great videos.

  5. Amazing!
    You might want to seat the mold(s) in a bag of sand so the weight of the concrete doesn’t distort the mold when it is loaded. I am unsure the weight of the substitute material you are using, but, again, it might be useful and avoid chasing a river of filler material across your front porch.

    As a cat fancier, you probably have a bag of kitty liter somewhere around the house. Honest, your cat won’t mind being second.


    • Good idea. But too late – I already added the Quikwall to the mold (without major mishap, fortunately) and now it’s sitting under plastic, curing. Next time, I’ll use the kitty litter, though, because it will keep the mold from rolling around while I work. “Next time,” of course, if I ever decide I need two lions for some reason.

  6. Oh Jonni,
    That really turned out well. I’ve been wanting to try a latex mold. Thanks for sharing.
    Isn’t it fun to be a grown up kid, no one to tell you ya can’t try all these experiments!


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