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  1. Hi Jonni,

    maybe you can help me? My next project is a life-size Arabian horse’s head. Today, I made the drawing. I want to put a snaffle in his mouth and an original Arabian bridle (got one from ebay and an old snaffle from a friend of mine (hope I use the correct vocabular)).

    Now I don’t know when to open his mouth for when he is finished, his mouth shall be closed anyway. But I have to put this snaffle in his mouth. How can I do it? What do you say?

    I add a picture of the drawing to give you an idea of the horse.

    Reply
    • One way to do it would be to drill a hole through the finished mouth, since the mouth itself would be closed. But I don’t actually know what a snaffle looks like, so it might not be possible to put it through a drilled hole. Or put the snaffle right in the armature as you’re building your horse’s head, and create the head around it. That’s probably how I’d try it. Does anyone else have some good ideas for Irini?

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      • I think Jonni’s idea of building the head around the snaffle sounds like the easiest way to do it. Nice horse drawing Irini.

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      • Hi Irini- I am thinking Jonni is right- you will have to build the armature around the snaffle bit since it doesn’t come apart. Several questions though- Do you think you will ever need the snaffle again or will it be a permanent part of the sculpture? You may need to leave the horse mouth slightly open if you need to get it out. Also, since it is a metal piece, you may need a counterweight towards the back so it doesn’t topple over since paper mache is so light. One last thing- is the bridle adjustable or do you have to make the sculpture a specific size to fit the bridle? A difficult task you are undertaking. I am sure you can do it and make sure you post your progress. Good luck!

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      • Well, the snaffle (German: Wassertrense) looks like on the following photograph. Actually, I had to open his mouth, put it in his mouth and then close his mouth again – like in real life :-). It is fixed by the bridle, which I can fix at the snaffle at the end (oh my, do you understand what I mean?)

        Reply
    • Hi Irini, I know that you want the Arab to be as authentic as possible (at least that is my impression from your description). hers is an idea for you …. because the snaffle bit will be in the horses mouth why don’t you add paper mache ends to the sides of the mouth that look like the bit than you could use a real metal ring threaded through to attach the bridle.

      I grabbed a picture off of the internet so you can get a better idea.

      Reply
      • Hi friends,

        oh my, I am really impressed and grateful for all the comments you sent!!! 🙂

        Well, yes, I know it’s a difficult project, especially since up to now I had the feeling that my clay (with the wrong measurements) was like processing icecream :-/. I am very excited trying to do my favorite horse portrait made by the German horse photographer Gabriele Boiselle http://www.editionboiselle.de

        @ Terry: Thank you! But I think, I have to correct his mouth and nose. He is grinning ;-P. I actually saw it, when I loaded my painting up on this list :-).

        @ Eileen: Well, a friend of mine gave me a broken bit (Thanks Tammy!) and my husband fixed it. So it can stay in his mouth. Since I have no own horse :-(, I can leave the bridle on his head and it is adjustable as well.

        @Tammy: Thank you very much for the photograph with the vocabulary which helps me a lot. Google wasn’t as good and in German we have one word for bridle and bit. Yes, indeed, I want to make him as authentic as possible. First, I thought, I wanted to make the bit of paper mache, but then a friend of mine gave me one….

        So I think, I will bild he horse’s head around the bit… I’ll let you know about my progress.

        Reply
  2. Hi, here a photo of my work using paper mache clay.
    I like dooing doll’s.
    Ando I would like to do something in her faces, something to make it more smooth. What can I use?
    Maybe de new recipe of your paper mache would result????

    Thank for sharing your work with us.

    Reply
  3. Hi everybody,
    Spring has come and everything’s blooming and intersting, that Eileen made a lotus blossom, too – although I couldn’t see it yet, I had to smile, because I made a wildrose blossom nearly the same way that Eileen did!

    Well, Jonni, I tried the new clay with better measurements…. and what shall I say?! It’s perfect to work with!!!! THANK YOU again, Jonni, for sharing the new clay and measurements with us!

    Well, I rolled out the new clay like dough and made it like a round disk. Then I formed the petals and made a bowl by using a cling film between a ceramic bowl. On the outer side I used an aluminium foil for making it look crinkly like a new blossom .

    Then I let it dry for a day, but I think, I should have waited two days for it wasn’t drying very easily.

    So, I hope you like my new wildroses bowl! Enjoy!

    Reply
  4. Hello all- I wanted to share with you a new sculpture because of the way I did the lotus flower. I have tried flowers and leaves before but they always came out a bit chunky looking. This time I used Jonni’s new air dry clay and rolled it out with a rolling pin onto waxed paper. Then I imbedded covered wire in varying lengths and smoothed it out. I let it dry for about 8 hours then pulled it off the paper. It was still damp but pliable, I could then cut the clay with scizzors and curve the petals the way I wanted them. Then using more air dry clay, I assembled the flower. The new clay enabled me to make the crisper edges I was looking for. One tip- it would have been easier to paint the petals before assembling because it was hard getting the brush in the tight spaces. It seems pretty sturdy and tight. So, if you are of the mind to make flowers or leaves, this could be helpful.
    Christine- I also played with the white balance when taking the picture. It showed so much detail that I noticed a very tiny brush hair stuck on one of the petals that I had not seen in real time! I’ve got to get rid of that. Anyway, thanks for the tips on photography!

    Reply
    • Eileen, I would love to see the photo, but it didn’t come through. That’s usually because the file size is too big. Please edit the photo to make it smaller, and try again – your description sounds fascinating!

      Reply
    • It is very beautiful Irini. I love the pastel colors. Until you told us that it was a bowl, it looked like the real thing. I am now going to try to find a mixer that will give me the mixing capacity to make my own clay. right now I do not have that. But this kind of quality is inspiring and getting my own juices flowing. Thank you for the input. The colors came out really nice. I am putting some touches on an ebook about sculpture photography that I have been working on.

      Reply
      • Thank you very much for telling me that I inspired you! That makes me happy! Well, I found my mixer for making clay on a flea market (do you say so) – a used one that works very well for about 5 €, but I chop the toilet paper in a food processor (“Thermomix”) before I add all the other intregients.

        Reply
  5. Thank you, Rex! Well, try acrylic paints! They are very similar to water colors. One difference is that they are covering, so you can paint one layer over the other and overpaint it for instance. So, just try it!!! 🙂

    Reply
  6. Hi everyone.
    Earlier last week I posted about having a hard time with sculpting a leopard head. I just couldn’t get proportions right and really was becoming frustrated with it. I decided to start over with another style and less concentration on proportions. The following pictures are what I came up with. I also used Jonni’s new clay recipe. I really like it and will be using it more, It is working very well for the feathers on an eagle I am doing. I will post that one up too once it is finished.

    Here is the head before paint….

    Reply
    • This sleeping guinea pig is adorable and I love the fact that you put him or her in a box with grass that looks like the real thing. the backgrounds add a touch of realism to the piece. Nice work.

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  7. Hi everybody,

    most of the time during the last weeks I was painting, because tomorrow starts my first exhibition on a arts and crafts market. 10 minutes later, after we set up our tent, it started to rain and that not too less….

    Anyway, I tried to make some paper mache projects and after Jonni told us the measurements in grams, I understood, what I made wrong with the papermache clay…. Cups are volumes, but I tried to weigh in fl oz, so the papermache clay was too smooth to work with…. and therefore my figures appear kind of misshapened.

    I hope, that’s a good excuse – we will see well formed my next figures will be 😉

    So, first, I trieeeeeed…. YES, a guinea pig!!! 😀 A sleeping guinea pig:

    Reply
      • Hi Eileen and everybody,
        well the weather was rainy, windy and cold on Saturday, so there were hardly people on the fair. The next day was sunny and nice and hundreds of people came to our tent. I have some pictures on my homepage (please click the button “Ausstellungen/Neues”). On the one side the people watched my paintings intensively and petted the guinea pig ;-). Especially children were excited about it. But alas I couldn’t sell anything. But I wasn’t too disappointed, for the reason for this fair was to bekome known. And many friends were visiting me, for it was my first fair.

        Reply
    • I like the guinea pig and your crazy chickens. The guinea pig’s hair is nice, how you feathered it from one color to the next 🙂

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        • I love your sculptures. I’m glad I’m not the only one who did crazy chickens! I do watercolor, so acrylic is new to me. I, too, like the feathering on the guinea pig. I’ll have to try that. Thanks.

          Reply
  8. Hi Jonni, my name is … Osnaldo
    I really liked the new mass, but I wanted to know what it’s called “JOINT COMPOUND” in Brazil.
    I am working with artisan and papietagem, these are some of my work:

    Reply
    • Hi Osnaldo. According to David, one of our readers, the joint compound is called Massa Corrida in Brazil. And the sculptures are lovely – thanks for showing them to us.

      Reply
      • Hi Jonni, I’m back …
        Thanks for answering my question.
        I can buy your book even though I am from Brazil?
        This sculpture was my teacher who made:

        Reply
        • I like the dragon – he looks very fierce. And yes, amazon.com will ship anywhere. I buy books from amazon.co.uk when a title isn’t available here in the states, and the shipping isn’t too bad. Just click on one of the book images in the sidebar, and it will take you right to amazon.com. And thanks for asking! 🙂

          Reply
        • Hi Osnaldo,

          yes, I think, you can buy Jonn’s book in Brazil, too. I’m living in Germany and it was possible to buy her book from Amazon! It’s a wonderful (working-)book, it’s a must have!!! 🙂 It’s one of my favorite books, because it’s clear structured and explained and it contains many pictures you can see what you should do next!

          Reply
  9. Hi gang- Here is the finished box turtle. Poor guy needed to have his legs amputated. I just hope the new ones last- box turtles can live 75 years!
    I also made a light box that Christine suggested to use for photographing, still needs some work with the proper lights and I have to get better with the camera settings. It is an improvement though. I learn so much from all of you.

    Reply
    • He’s looking great. And the light box really made a difference with the photo, didn’t it? You can really see the intricate detailing on the legs and face now. My light box is almost done, and I hope to actually use it sometime next week, when I get one of my first dolls dressed up in her new outfit.

      Reply
    • Eileen, this is beautiful. That turtle really looks like the real thing. one thing you can do is buy lights that have the full spectrum of the sun or buy some of the same color and use your camera settings to set the white balance. Also, if you have lights on both sides and on top you get even lighting, but for the most part the sides will be enough. If your camera has a manual setting, put the camera setting on manual, go to white balance and you will see settings for the different kinds of light. Play with those settings and you will get the right color balance. Some bulbs are cool and have a bluish hue, and the warmer bulbs will make your work orange. Full spectrum bulbs can be a bit pricey but they do the job. the white balance setting will halp fix those problems.

      Reply
      • Thanks Christine. Really good tips. I actually used a sunlight spectrum light on one of the sides, but a regular light on the other. When playing with the white balance, what effect are you looking for? Will the white be less bright, less shadows? I tried to get less shadowing but still need to work on that. And the varnish seems too glossy in the pictures even though I use a Matte varnish. In real life it looks ok though.
        Terry- you are so right. The people on this site are extremely helpful and supportive.
        Jonni- will you be posting your fully dressed doll picture or will that be for the book? How is the book coming?
        Thanks everyone for the kind words about Mr. Turtle.

        Reply
        • Hi Eileen. Yes, I’ll post photos of the dolls when they’re dressed, but so far I haven’t actually sewn any clothes for them. I sculpted five puppy heads yesterday, which was a lot of fun. I’m worried that I seem to be running out of room in the book – I can only afford about 100 pages before the printing costs make the book way too expensive for the average buyer. But with the sculpting, and the sewing of bodies, and the painting, and the clothes, that’s a lot of instruction that has to be included. I wanted about ten different critters, and now it’s been reduced to three, because of space. I should be done by the end of June, if not before. – and thanks for asking!

          Reply
          • Jonni- that’s a shame that you couldn’t put more dolls in your book. Look at it as a developmental opportunity- more books! You would already have the layout that could be continued in future books, you would just have to adapt for each new critter. I think they will be wildly popular. I will be first in line to buy it!(and the next ones!)
            Christine- you are a wealth of knowledge about photography! Thank you. I have started a new file to save all of your tips. Now let’s see if I can exectute them! I am finishing up a new sculpture and will try again with the photographing.
            I owe a debt of gratitude to this website, Jonni and all of her friends. I am having the time of my life sculpting, phographing, etc. When I’m not actually doing these things, I am thinking about them. One must always be growing!

            Reply
        • The problem is one: You used two different lights, white balance will NOT work. It will only work with an even kelvin of color. What you have are two different color spectrum and the white balance will be confused. You either use full spectrum or two lights of the same color. The white balance then will correct the blue ,reddish or green hue cast by the color emitted. The sensor will not know what color balance it needs to correct for with two different light colors. To try to get even lighting and to get less reflection, try putting the light source a little further away from the screen. That is why you want light on top and on the sides. That is how you control shadows. For people who do not want to make a light box, use a white sheet and iron out the creases, put your lights at a 45 degree angle to the piece that way you have only one shadow and even lighting. One way is to check if you have even lighting, is to take a pencil in the middle of the sheet, board etc., and see if you have two shadows. If you do, move the lights until there is only one shadow coming out of the pencil. now you know you have even lighting. This is a trick I l earned many years ago.

          Reply
          • I forgot to add, drape the sheet on a table and drape it over something high. That way you do not see lines and you have one continuous seam. for an effect so it is not floating in space, ground your piece with lace, colored paper, a prop etc. That will add more information what your piece is abut.

            Reply
    • Great Turtle Eileen! And Christine is SO knowledgable about photography – isn’t it wonderful how she shares her talent? All the people on this site are so kind and helpful!

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    • Hi Eileen,

      your turtle is really perfect, I love it! It looks like a genuine turtle! Well done! How did you make the eyes? Are they painted or did you use glass eyes?

      Reply
      • Hi Irini- For the eyes I used some of Jonni’s new clay, made 2 little balls and let them dry. Then I added them to the sculpture by making his eyelids and that holds them in. The new clay dries really smooth, and I painted them like Jonni did her cat’s eyes, using gel medium to make them glossy. Thanks for your compliments. Tell me again where you are from- my husband and I were trying to figure out where your name comes from.

        Reply
        • Hi Eileen, 🙂

          yes, well, I come from Germany and live near Stuttgart. BUT this variety of my name is not German. In English or German my name is Irene or Ireen, however Irini (or Eipnvn) is Greek. My father was a Greek and my mom a German. And since Greek kids get their names of their grandfather and -mother from their father first, I got the name of my Greek grandmother, Eipnvn – or Irini.

          Do you know the movie: “My big fat Greek wedding?” I love it!!! And do you remember the szene where they wanted to be engaged and invited his parents to her family and her father introduced his family to his parents: “This is Nick, and Nick and this is Nick, Nicky, Nick….” 😀 Yeah, that’s true….. 😀 But I think, nowadays, the tradition isn’t as strong anymore as it was.

          Well, I have to try Jonni’s new clay asap – after next weekend…. if I am alive then…. 🙂

          Reply
    • Eileen, your turtle looks great, the legs are perfect, and the color is very nice. What size is he and do box turtles have that color in the wild?

      Reply
      • Thanks Marilyn, head to tail he is about 9″ long and 5″ high. They actually do look like that in the wild only they are usually pretty dusty looking and that mutes the coloring. I have been trying to do some research on each animal I do to get them realistic looking. Some animals have to be scaled down in size but the turtle is small enough that I did not have to scale him down. Thanks for the comment about the legs- they caused me a lot of anguish. Because I had to amputate and make new ones, I am curious to see if they hold up or crack. Each sculpture you do helps in the learning process!

        Reply
    • This box turtle is really, really beautiful. I like the way his legs are stretched up and the painting is awesome. Thanks for sharing. (Yes, I’m jealous!)

      Reply
      • Thanks Rex, nice comments. A young man was in my house while I was photographing the turtle in the light box and he thought it was a real turtle! Can’t get any better validation than that, huh?
        I saw your koi and chickens on the other post. They are really cute and fanciful. It’s funny, I just am finishing up a sculpture of a frog on a lily pad with a lotus flower- though my frog did behave or wasnt hungry. We are of like minds! I will post when it is completed. Thanks again.

        Reply
      • Thanks Mike- the scaley look came from putting a one ply piece of paper napkin directly onto the wet paper mache clay. The paper towels I had contained a floral design- no good, toilet paper was not distict enough, separating paper napkins to one ply was just right! Kinda like goldilocks, keep trying until you get it right!

        Reply
  10. Awww Thanks!!! You can’t learn unless you try and you can’t get better until you do it over and over again. Good luck with the human form.

    Reply
  11. Hello everyone,
    I have some issues today and hope to hear any suggestions you may have. I have been having difficulty getting the 2 sides of a sculpt (heads mostly) to match. Do you have any suggestions about how to make both sides so symmetrical ? Hopefully I can do this with out a bunch of mathematics and technical measurements. I always try and fix the problem by adding a little more here and a little more there but than… oops …too much on this side got to add more on the other side..and so on ….and so on… Finally I usually end up having a sculpture that is way bigger than originally planned and lop sided to boot. I don’t want to loose the joy of the sculpt by being too technical but lately I am beginning to get really frustrated so that joy is slipping…if you know what I mean?

    Reply
    • Tammy, I don’t know if this will help, but the way I do it is do one side and then put the sculpture in front of a mirror. That’s how I’m doing the other side of my rhino’s head right now, as a matter of fact.

      Another way to do it is to use a pattern inside the armature, like I usually do, but then put a second one crosswise, so the basic shape is set in both directions. I haven’t done that yet, but it sounds like a good idea.

      Reply
      • Thanks Jonni,
        I am trying to get my last 2 projects done before I have my baby on June 13th (planned c-section so unless I go early thats the date).
        I have an open mouthed leopard head which I have cut up and fixed over and over again. With him I think I’m now going to just go with what I have …..even though it still doesn’t feel right. I am so frustrated with this one and after putting hours of work into him I was still going to toss him. I however promised him to a niece and she is still patently waiting.
        I also have an eagle that I am working on. It is the whole eagle but It is supposed to be a realistic as possible. I have the basic shape done and dried so I will be starting the details. I am going to try out the mirror for sure. I have been procrastinating long enough….time to getter done!

        Reply
        • Your description of your ongoing issues with your leopard reminded me of the time when I first discovered that it’s legal to toss the first one out and start over. I know that sounds sort of silly, but it was an enormous revelation for me. Then I started doing things over three or four or five times for the projects in my books, and I’m still surprised by how much better the last one looks than the first one. If you’re still unhappy with that cat, just start over. It’s liberating. But do it before the baby shows up. You may be a bit too busy afterwards. 😉

          Reply
    • Hi Tammy,

      Its good to be in touch again.

      I struggle with the same thing myself and it is an ongoing problem! Like Jonni I find that constantly looking in the mirror at a piece really helps but even so I always seem to end up with non asymetrical (if thats the right word) details-you can see it in my latest piece aroung the eyes-and ears-my partner is not a sculptor but she is a very good critic! So sometimes I listen to her and sometimes I let my defects add character! I console myself with the fact all my little details smack of my “style” and that way I don’t get too frustrated about it! Just sculp and enjoy it, I make lots of mistakes with alls orts of things on a daily basis-but I get a few right as well! contain the negative and encourage the positive!

      Reply
    • Just thought I’d mention that real life animals and people don’t have symmetrical faces really. I always view it as a bit of realism.

      Reply

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