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Fast Paper Mache Panda
I had a choice this week after my horse pattern was finished: I could clean up my basement and get it all organized, or I could start a fun, easy art project, instead.
I keep telling you I’m lazy, so guess which one I picked. 🙂
Links mentioned in the video:
- Scientific American article with the photo I used for my model.
- Paste recipes (use whichever one you like best)
- 5 tips for applying paper mache.
- How to make paper mache smooth without sanding.
Watch the video above to see how to make a panda of your own, or see the snapshots below:
Step 1, Getting Ready:
If you’ll be using a wooden plaque, like this super-cheap wooden one that I bought at Walmart, get a piece of paper and draw around the edge.
Then draw your panda on the paper. This will help you make sure the finished panda will fit on his wooden background.
If you enjoy making the panda and want to make more animals, a great way to get inspiration is to look in kid’s drawing books – like this one. Or browse through the kid’s art books at your local bookstore or do a search on amazon.com for “how to draw animals for kids.”
Then round out your drawing with foil, just like I did with the panda.
Step 2, Sculpting the Forms with Foil:
Start with an upside-down bowl shape that’s slightly wider than it is tall.
Add a smaller ball for the muzzle, using hot glue. Then form the cup-shaped ears.
Press indentations in the foil where the eyes will go. Then make tiny foil balls, and stick them on with hot glue. (Get them in the right place – I had to move the one on the left.)
Step 3, Cover with Masking Tape
Paper mache paste doesn’t like to stick to foil, so you’ll need to cover your panda with masking tape. If you use paper mache clay you won’t need the tape.
Step 4, Cover with Paper Mache
Use paper strips and paste (recipe here – just use the one you like best) to cover your panda. If you need to correct the shapes, like I did, you can do that with some extra paper strips and paste.
Click here for 5 tips for applying paper mache.
Let the paper mache dry all the way through before you paint it. I put mine in front of a furnace vent. If your furnace isn’t on, put it in front of a fan if you’re in a hurry. Just make sure you don’t trap any water inside, not even a little, or your panda could start to grow mold.
Step 5, Adding Fur (Totally Optional):
I put a very thin layer of drywall joint compound over the paper mache, and used an old chip brush to create fur marks. You don’t need to do this if you don’t have any joint compound already. It only takes a tiny amount, so you might not want to buy it for such a small project.
Let the drywall joint compound dry.
Smooth the eyes and nose with fine sandpaper or a lightly damp sponge.
Step 6, Priming and Painting:
Add acrylic gesso or latex primer to seal the paper mache and make a nice surface for paint.
Let the gesso or primer dry, then paint the panda with white acrylic paint and let it dry again.
Draw the black eye spots lightly with a pencil.
Paint the black eye spots, ears and nose. You can also add a mustache with black paint thinned with water.
Add white reflection spots in the eyes. I used the light hitting the eyes from the overhead lamp to decide where to put the spots.
I used Yellow Oxide mixed with white, plus water, to make a very light haze of yellow fur around the outside edge of the head. See the photo to see why I did this. Yellow Ocher would work, too. Or you can just leave it off.
If you have some Golden Glazing Liquid on hand, you can use it instead of water. It makes it easy to remove the excess yellow paint.
I used a paper towel to remove most of the yellow paint, leaving it just in the dips made by the brush.
Step 7, Add Varnish
I made my video and wrote this post before the paint was entirely dry, but tomorrow I’ll give my panda a coat of matte acrylic varnish, and then cover the eyes with clear fingernail polish.
If you’re using a wooden plaque, you can stick your panda on it with hot glue.
I really haven’t decided if I’ll put mine on straight, or if I’ll put him on slightly crooked. I also can’t decide if I should repaint my plaque a dark red, for more contrast between the plaque and the panda. Let us know you intend to do it in the comment section below.
And be sure to come back and show off your panda when it’s done. You can do that on the Daily Sculptors page. We’d love to see how it turns out!