Work in progress

Made by Jenny Anez

This is “Lola”! She is being crafted with EVA foam, still working on the ears. Pattern was enlarged 250%, lots of work! But so much fun! I’m in love with this project! She’ll be used for an Aladdin dance show! If everything goes as planned she’ll be 7.5 ft long and 6.5ft tall. Has anyone done something like that before? I’m open for tips and advice!?

EVA foam elephant head

Pattern for EVA foam elephant head
Pattern for EVA foam elephant head

8 thoughts on “Work in progress”

  1. I made a large Sunfish years ago with foam and wood cross sectional struts. I designed cross section HALVES of the fish from enlarged drawings I had made with the use of measurements from a ten inch taxidermy model. I used expanding papermache and canned insulating foam to fill out between wood cross sections. (Pieces of wood were cut out and glued together on a band saw from scrap wood). After smoothing out the foam, I covered the life sized fish, about 5 ft x 6′ with thin sheets of white butcher paper with cornstarch paste. ( Butcher paper comes in large roll, about 16″ wide) I then drew in the scales on the papered fish. They were made by cutting out triangular “scales” from one inch pink insulating foam with a home made hot wire foam cutter. I then painted melted wax on the the fish and adhered the scales with melted wax (paraffin). This was so the one inch thick concrete shell I covered the paper and scales with, would release easily form the core. I used White quickwall concrete mix, which is a surface bonding concrete which has fiberglass strands in it. After I made each half of the fish, I removed the core. I used some building scaffold and chain hoists hang and wire together both halves. I then bonded each half together with SBC (same surface bonding cement), and built up the dorsal fin over the lateral joint. I lowered the assembled fish to sit above an oval form for a base. I used pipe through the form to allow for support rods to be put through to move the fish with slings and a tractor. After assembly, the styrofoam scales were punched out. The fish is hollow, and acts as a tin lantern would, allowing an internal light to shine out of the openings: scales and 4″ hollow eyes. I made this about fifteen years ago and it has survived New York winters quite well. It does need a coat of paint, Is it successful? Well, I can think of no better compliment than that the local deer, with their fawns , like to sit next to it during the year. Right now, I am carving wall totems, owls, in cedar for a conservation center and a Native American wildlife reserve. They are gifts, since they are more than just “Art”. I did the same for two war memorials for sailors who died in the Iraq war. They were on permanent display years ago in the Hall of Heroes in the US Coast Guard Academy in CT. At the time, I was told it meant so much to the families who were greving. They were large carvings of Mahogany Life Savers, with carvings around the rims, and a shadow box in glass in the center. I turned them on a large Oliver Lath, which could turn a six foot salad bowl on it, should one ever think one could not get enough salad into a bowl at one time? Maybe the Jolly Green Giant???????????????? Hmmmmmmmmmmmmm?????



      • I knew that question would come up! Photos were on my now dead computer. I will take pictures of it this summer when I visit where it is set up, and hope to post to you then. However, I am kind of computer illiterate too. ..old school.
        The term “expanding papermache” refers to a questionable moment of verbal incompetence while typing. Ie: when the dog, with threatening maniacal looks, was scratching at the door and threatening to pee on the floor. It was meant to state “expanding” foam with paper mache beneath. Sorry about that. On the good side, the French expressed during the scramble was not included. The urethane foam expands when it comes out the can, and then gets hard. It is then rasped down and curved as needed to level off with the pre made wood “ribs” /egg crate, which act as guides. (When making sculpture, a good drawing that is made with sculpture in mind is very important. I have seen wood carvers with “instructors” waste a year’s effort trying to carve from a drawing that can not translate into a sculpture that is effective.. a word to the wise… an “instructor, just like a doctor, can take you down a merry road.) More foam can be added to fix “holidays”. The one inch thick foam scales applied on top of the core also act as guides , to accomplish a minimum of one inch thickness to the final fish sculpture. Forensic reconstruction of faces often does the same. General racial skin/muscle depths are first applied to the skull with gauged “pins” to get the general muscle depth configuration of the deceased. However, with this type of construction, instead of clay; paper mache, plaster, fiberglass or concrete can be used I am skeptical about foam outdoor sculpture as carpenter ants love to make nests in styrofoam. Concrete is very durable, lasting perhaps 200 years, but paper mache or plaster is of course, much lighter, and excellent for making trial full size sculptures . This was done in the Renaissance before large stone sculptures were made : even if your sculpture was “correct”, its effective size, in terms of the architecture around it, may not be… it was a time when “mistakes” in very very expensive marble did not go down well, to put it mildly. (ie: change your name and hide if you become a monk or nun.. and all you wanted to do was make a few sculptures…how did it get so bad????) ugh oh?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You were carving the sculpture for the Church??? THE prime patron of that era..Yikes!!!..even more “not good”.. and even more why paper mache is so good.
        Also, thank you for the guidance in using gelatine molds. I made the gelatin as heavy a concentration as I could with the glycerine, I cast thin wall concrete castings of turtle shells with such molds, used graded pebbles (use a sieve) to control wall thickness, and applied with the outside curved surface of a spoon. Turtle shells were made of cementall concrete which uses superplasticizers, which may attain 7-9 thousand psi… very strong. They were used to make dance rattle shells for Native American Dance, in an effort to stop the killing of box turtles for such rattles. I showed some tribal members from Oklahoma how to make them and gave them the molds and supplies. Thick sections of concrete could get too hot for such castings. However, a thin set mold can be made, and liquid concrete later used to build it up.. Cementall is used to turn normal plastic concrete mixed with water into a liquid concrete meant to cast a level shower stall floor, by making it a flowing liquid, and then setting strong.. However if minimal water is used instead of the normal water amount, then the superplasticizer does not have enough water in the concrete to turn it into a flowable liquid, but only to mimic normal plastic concrete mix.. but instead of perhaps 2500 psi concrete, now you can have perhaps 7000 to 20,000 psi concrete.. very strong. Also, concrete can be made flexible with certain other additives…(pva?? not the pva glue. its another “pva : poly vinyl alcohol???” I think. I have not done that. It is used especially in Japan where earthquakes are quite common.
        PS. I think your masks are great.. really good. I see a lot of masks made that are very dark and more like horror flicks… I make masks of animal forms to inspire, or as the the turtles, to save and protect. Thank you for your help towards those ends.


  2. Great job, Jenny. I have a couple of questions:

    How did you make the pattern so big, and transfer it to the foam? If it was done by hand, it must have taken a really long time!

    And how will you finish the elephant after you’re done putting her together? Is there a paint that works with PVA foam? I’ve seen people working with the material on YouTube videos, but I’ve never played with it myself. We’d love to learn more about the process, when you have a few minutes to spare. It looks like you’re a little busy, though, at the moment. 🙂

    • I printed it from my computer on poster mode at 250%. I couldn’t do it from my old computer but luckily I was able to do it from my new one from the same Adobe program, I can take a picture of it if you need me to! Each single sheet of the pattern turn into 8 pages! Then it was just putting them together, cutting each piece and then to the eva foam. (English is not my primary language, so bear with me here!)
      The paint: I have made a couple of cosplays before with eva foam, and how I work with it is the following: 1st you need to “cure” it, if you have a heat gun or even a hair dryer will do the job. Try on a piece you aren’t going to use so you can have an idea of how much heat to put, but is just a tiny bit, you’ll see where the heat goes because the foam turns a little “sparkling” (you’ll see what I mean once you try it). Then I like to double coat it with mod podge and you are good to go. Once that is dry you can spray paint the heck of it! I suggest you try with a piece 1st!
      As far as for the body, this is my 1st rodeo making an elephant ( or any animal!) So the plan is to make a structure with 1/2 pvc pipes. I’ll make sure I come here to post updates!

      • Thanks, Jenny! Your instructions are very clear – “just’ print out the pattern really big, and trace it onto the foam. I’ll bookmark your page in case I decide to create something with the foam and paint it. I can’t wait to see how your elephant turns out.


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