Hello Dinosaur, Bye-Bye Kangaroo…

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My Paper Mache Dinosaur Project…

Valerie asked me to make a paper mache dinosaur in a comment on YouTube, and I thought it was a fantastic idea. I’ve been reading about the Therizinosaurus lately in the book Dinosaurs – The Grand Tour, and I’m fascinated by how paleoartists imagine an entire 30-foot-long animal when all they have are a few ribs and three claws.

Besides, I’ve never made a dinosaur before, but I’ve wanted to for a long time.

But I admit my method for creating the pattern was strange, to say the least.

In fact, I almost didn’t show you this part of my project, because it might look just a tad unprofessional.

But you know what? The creative process can get messy, and we all know it. So why shouldn’t I just turn on the camera and let you see how I turned the kangaroo from my last video into a pattern for a Therizinosaurus?

A bit of chopping, a bit of stretching, and now he’s ready for muscles, toes and claws. And a beak, of course.

Therizinosaurus dinosaur patternIf you’d like to use my pattern (no need to start with a kangaroo) click here for a printable PDF.

Or watch this video if you’d like to make your own pattern for a paper mache dinosaur, and for instructions on how to use the grid method to make your pattern as large as you want.

In the next video I’ll start working on those feet, and I might add the claws, too. This creature has swords on the end of his fingers that are half as long as his arms – but he is supposed to be a herbivore, not the deadly dinosaur that he was first imagined to be.

Or a Dragon, Perhaps?

I’ve always thought dragons were invented to help people understand the existence of dinosaur bones. How else could they explain such huge creatures? And perhaps modern scientists weren’t the first people to discover that dinos had feathers.

The Therizinosaurus would work well as a dragon, with a few horns on his head, like the ones on Dracorex hogwartsia. He already has a dragon’s serpent-like neck, and those impossibly long claws that are half as long as his arms. All he’s missing are the wings. Maybe wings with three-foot claws? Shudder…

To learn more about this famous dinosaur, (the real one, not my made-up dragon idea) visit this page: http://dino.wikia.com/wiki/Therizinosaurus

25 thoughts on “Hello Dinosaur, Bye-Bye Kangaroo…”

  1. After a disastrous day trying to make a giant paper mache egg (the balloon popped), I searched the Internet and found you. I’m obsessed and really love your work! Just wondering if you have an Instagram page?! If not, would you please consider getting an account for us Instagram peeps so we can follow and quickly see what you are working on? Thank you for all your inspiration and tutorials! <3

    • Hi Marsha. I’m sorry your balloon experience wasn’t pleasant. I hate using balloons with paper mache. Did you see my post about my Humpty Dumpty adventure? I got it to work, but I cheated. πŸ™‚

      I know everyone in the world is on Instagram, but I don’t have a smart phone. I really don’t want a smart phone. I know there are work-arounds that let people post on Instagram without a smart phone, but it isn’t easy. However, a few minutes ago I added a push notification service to my blog. If you see the option to subscribe (it will pop up at the top of the page) go ahead do it. Then you’ll be notified on your screen when I post something new. The other options are to get notifications through email, or to subscribe to my YouTube channel. Pick one, and you’ll never be left out when something exciting shows up on the blog. πŸ™‚

    • hi, i’ve worked on balloons earlier, biggest problem was stability, therefore i used a cooking pan for the balloon to rest in, then i started by adding just a single layer of kitchen role soaked with glue, left it to dry turned it upside down and did the second half on the balloon, left it to dry again and repeated the proces again, after 2 layers it was much easier to add a thin layer of paper clay without it sliding off the balloon. for applying the paper mache clay again i did 1 side at a time , left it to dry before turning it over and do the other side. preparing your balloon before inflating (stretch it a few times by hand) gives lesser chance that it may burst, also the first 2 layers make it less fragile. pictures of the finished result can be found on xentrium.com , hope this info helped for you.

  2. Jonni
    Here’s a model of a Tyrannosaurus rex. The tail is massive so are the legs.
    https://www.cbc.ca/kidscbc2/the-feed/5-dinosaurs-that-called-canada-home
    In comparison, the kangaroo has a thin tail and legs. We used to see quite a lot of roos around but development and drought makes them scarce. The local uni has a small mob. One expects to see them with mortar boards and gowns.

    I’ve attached a pic of a ramp walking roo. It’s a little drunk and has a tendency to fall head over tail.

    • Hi Barry. Thanks for the link. That Elasmosaurus was really amazing. And T-Rex is terrifying, of course. I think you’re right about the tail, so I thickened it at the base. But that brings up a question I’ve been pondering – maybe you know the answer. What would the dinosaurs use those big heavy tails for? Are they just for balance? Most animals with tails have skinny ones, just the vertebrae and enough muscles to hold them up. But the dinosaurs are always shown with the heavy tail straight out behind them, and it would take a lot of energy just to keep it in that position. So – what’s the deal with dino tails?

    • That would be helpful, but I never see artists’ renderings of a dinosaur with the tail dragging on the ground. That doesn’t mean they didn’t relax occasionally, of course. I hope to get started on his feet today, and they’ll be weighted, so we’ll see if that helps. If not, I may drop the tail as you suggest. Thanks for the idea!

  3. Thank you Jonni. I thoroughly enjoy watching your videos and you are so talented. Thank you for all your tips as well cheers Jenny.

  4. Jonni,
    This isn’t exactly about the dinosaur but when making my sculptures I had used recycled plastic bags. I found this is not a good idea because I needed to drill my sculpture and you can not if you use plastic bags. The drill grabs them and you have no controll over what happens. If paper is used there is no problem. I thought I would mention this in case some have thought to use plastic bags.

    • That’s a good point, Kathleen. I have often considered using plastic bags inside of sculptures, but I’ve never actually tried it. Now I’m really curious, though – what kind of sculptures do you make? I’m trying to think of something that requires drilling on a regular basis, and I’m stumped. πŸ™‚

  5. Jonni, I like the tail weight and base ideas that have been suggested. Many taxidermy and museum models also use a vertical post, sometimes disguised as foliage or some other feature. The other thing to consider is rotating the legs under the body enough to achieve the balance you want. If this were a real creature, it would not need a lead toe or tail to balance; it would all be flesh and bone. So, I would just make the leg-body angle allow for natural balance.

    • That’s an interesting idea. I have seen some drawings of the dinosaur with legs spread very much like the kangaroo that I used for my original pattern. With large feet and that stance, it would certainly help. As soon as I can get back to I’ll give that a try. Thanks for the suggestions. πŸ™‚

  6. Jonni
    I’ve just Googled dinosaurs. The top of the tail is very thick and the legs connect so that the upper weight is close to the lower weight.

    I’m mostly back to woodwork now but, curiously, I’ve just made a few walking kangaroos.
    Barry

  7. Hi Jonni,

    I agree with adding some weight to tail to help balance but here is another thought that might help. If you’ve ever noticed a chicken footprint, they have a smaller talon “toe” that comes out the “heel” part of the foot. The raptor dinosaurs also had this so it would be authentic. If you added the back talon with a little weight to it along with the tail weight it might just do the trick. πŸ™‚

    • Excellent idea, Dorothy! I just looked to see if Therizinosaurus’s relatives’ feet bones that have been found, and the Erikosaurus does have chicken-like feet with the fourth toe pointing backwards. That will really help a lot! If I gave this beast some heavy legs, the way some artists have drawn him, I might be able to put the weights right in in the legs.

      I’m having so much fun with all these suggestions and ideas that I want to get right back to work on him – I’ll try to carve out a little spare time tomorrow.

  8. Hi, Jonni
    This would be a good piece to put on a base. You can incorporate thin bolts in his legs, drill a hole in the base, put the bolts through the holes and attach a washer and nut. Not only will it stabilize the dino. You won’t have to worry about hitting it’s claws or nose, or body on anything if you put it in a box to send it somewhere, or just stand it in your garden.
    Thank you for all the information you post. I’m learning a whole new way of doing things. Happy trails.

    • Hi Freda Mae – that is a good point. I tend to whack the nose and tail of my creatures against door jams when I move them from one room to another. I may have to reconsider the base.

  9. Hi Jonni, I’ve done a number of paper mΓ’chΓ© animals and have always added weight to them for good balance. However, I make my armature from chicken wire etc., so the first shape I have is hollow. I’ve used everything from an old head of an axe, to a bunch of rocks. Any way you can make a hollow space and fill with your choice of weight will work. Your creations are always amazing.

    • Thanks, Patricia. That’s a good idea. Maybe I could use hot glue to attach a few rocks to the base of the tail – if I can find some under three feet of snow! Rummaging around in the basement for something heavy might be a better idea. πŸ™‚

  10. So I’m not the only one who does this…lol…you are so funny….love that it’s a dinosaur…I wish you would video the whole process…I’ve started a rabbit and it’s so ugly that I can’t seem to finish it…thank you for sharing this with us…love it…

    • I will turn on the camera as I work to finish the dinosaur. This is a ‘just for fun’ project, and I do have other things I’m supposed to be working on – like a pattern for a faux deer trophy mount that is almost finished, and headdress masks for the full cast of the Lion King play, which I’ve only just started. But I’ll work on dino in my spare time. πŸ™‚

      I think I’ll use a colorful bird for inspiration for painting him. Any suggestions?

  11. Hi Jonni. I do have a suggestion for helping your dinosaur stand up. We’ve often done pinewood derby and used weights to increase the car’s overall weight. Or drilled out because it’s supposed to be a certain weight. why couldn’t you take lead weights and attach them in the tail section, the rear to add more weight to balance out the sculpture? This could even be done later if a small section left open to fill till balanced.

    • Good idea, Julia. I think it would work. The balance will continue to change as I keep adding more padding, so maybe I’ll need to wait until the sculpture is almost finished. I could drill through the dried paper mache clay skin and add some weights. Thanks for the tip.

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