Make a Folk Art Bunny with Air Dry Clay or Paper Mache

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This little bunny was a delight to make. It took almost no time and I got to play around with a new (to me) product — DAS Modeling Clay.

You can use my pattern by clicking the button below. Or you can make your own. With a project like this one, simple is best.

How to Make a Folk Art Bunny with DAS Air Dry Clay

If you don’t have time to watch the video, here are the basic steps:

Selecting bun feet for the base of the rabbit sculpture.

If you’d like to use a wooden base for you bunny, like I did, you can find them at your local DIY store. They’re called “bun feet,” and are normally used under chairs and couches. They come in several different shapes, so choose the one you like best.

Selecting the right pattern for the bunny sculptue.

The pattern has two different sizes. Print them both on copy paper, and hold them up to your wooden base. Choose the size pattern that looks best.

Cutting the pattern out of cardboard.

Cut out the patterns and trace around them onto a scrap of cardboard. Then cut out the pattern. I used scissors, but a box cutter works a lot better for heavy cardboard. (I was too lazy to to find my box cutter. That particular tool seems to wander off on its own …)

Adding foil padding to the rabbit armature.

Add crumpled foil to the cardboard pattern, with hot glue. When you have the shapes the way you want them, cover the foil with masking tape. The DAS clay won’t stick to foil.

Shaping the rabbit's face.

Shape the face by pushing in hard on each side with your thumbs to create an indentation for the eyes. Use a tool, like the back of a knife, to push indentations for the bottom of the nose and for the vertical line below the nose.

Making sure the bunny still works with the selected wooden base.

Add a strip of foil around the edges of the ears, and tape them to the head.

Set the bunny back on the base and twist it around to force the bolt into the bottom of the rabbit armature.

Begin to add DAS air dry clay to the base of the rabbit.

Add a very thin layer of DAS air dry clay to the base and about an inch of the lower portion of the bunny’s body. Make it smooth by dipping your thumbs into a dish of water, and then pressing your thumbs into the clay.

Flatten the bunny's bottom so it will sit flat on the base.

Press the bottom of the bunny into the top of the base, to make sure it’s flat, and to make sure the hole for the bolt is still big enough. Then put the base aside.

Completely cover the bunny armature with DAS clay.

Cover the rest of the rabbit with the clay, making the layer as thin as possible. Use your fingers to make it as smooth as possible. You can also us the side of a knife dipped in water to smooth the clay and to make clear indentations for the nose.

Place the eyes with the tube from a pen.

Use a cap from a ball-point pen to make a round mark for the eyes.

Set the rabbit aside to dry overnight. If you’re in a real hurry, you can put him in a convection oven with the fan turned on and the temperature on the lowest setting. You don’t want to bake the bunny – you just want to dry it out.

Sculpt the eyes when the first layer is dry.

When the first layer is dry, go back and add details. Add small balls of clay to the eyes, and fix any finger marks or scratches that show up on the ‘skin’ of the bunny.

Sculpt the nose and mouth on the bunny.

Add another small ball of clay to round out the nose. 

Set the wet rabbit sculpture aside to dry overnight.

The sculpting part of the project is now finished. Set it aside for another night to dry completely.

Stain the base of the sculpture with a dark wash.

Use a thin mixture of acrylic paint and water to make a dark stain for the wooden base.

Paint the rabbit with very light grey.

Paint the bunny with a very light grey. Allow the paint on the bunny to dry.

Use glazing liquid and paint for a dark glaze.

Mix Golden Glazing Liquid with dark acrylic paint (Burnt Umber with a tiny amount of Ultramarine Blue). Brush this mixture over a small section of the bunny.

Remove most of the glaze with paper towels.

Immediately wipe off most of the glaze with a paper towel. If a dry towel doesn’t remove as much of the glaze as you would like, use a damp towel.

Add white highlight to the rabbit's eyes.

Paint the eyes black. When the black paint is dry, add a tiny spot of white paint for a reflection. This will make the bunny seem to come alive.

Add one or two coats of matte varnish.

Use a hot glue gun to attach the bunny to the base. Then seal both the base and the sculpture at least one coat of acrylic varnish. I really like the Soft Touch varnish by DecoArt, but any brand will work.

Air dry clay hanging out with the giraffe sculpture.

Here’s my finished Folk Art Bunny hanging out with his friend the giraffe.

(That’s my daughter’s painting behind them. You can see more of her work here.)

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Make a folk art bunny with DAS air dry clay

23 thoughts on “Make a Folk Art Bunny with Air Dry Clay or Paper Mache”

  1. Delightful! Thank you so much. Just the kind of instruction I was looking for. Can’t wait to learn more.

    • Kelly, we would love to see your bunny. Did you try to upload a photo? If you did, it was probably too big for our system. Most cameras save photos in really big file sizes, and my little blog can’t handle them. If you don’t have image editing software that can make your images less than 250 kb, you can use this free online tool. And we do hope you try again!

  2. You are truly remarkable! So much talent & you’re willing to share your techniques & recipes! I learned a lot from this bunny video even though I’ve used your recipe before now. What am I doing wrong that I can’t seem to get the consistency right for detailed sculpting? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
    Again, you are an inspiration! Thank you for sharing!

    • Hi Priscilla. Are you using the air dry clay recipe, or the original paper mache clay? The air dry clay can be modified with more or less corn starch to get the consistency you want. Or use more or less flour – try both and see which one works best. With the original paper mache clay, the extra paper can be more difficult to break up, so it needs lots of time with the mixer. You can also change the amount of flour to make it thicker.
      I hope this helps.

      • And one other option – if you have a hobby store nearby and if you do need to start over, you could use three or four layers of plaster cloth to make your form. It will harden in an hour or so. Once it’s taken off the original and put back together you could put paper mache clay over it to make it smoother and harder. The clay would dry twice as fast because it would be open to the air on the inside as well as the outside.

  3. Well you continue to amaze me. I think you are one of the best artists EVER! I recently participated in a folk art class and attempted to share your armature method using cardboard with some folks and talked endlessly about your books! This class was given to us by a wonderful grant from the Aroha philanthropies through our public library for folks 55 years and older. It was an amazing experience because I was also in a sculpting class using oil based clay and casting methods. Anyway I made the kune kune pig and elephant and some other things. Thankyou sooooooo much for sharing your talents. These emails are like a gift every time I get one lol. Again thankyou

    • Hi Kathy. I’m so glad enjoying your experience with sculpting and that you’re sharing the ‘secret’ of using patterns inside sculptures. Do you have any photos of your pig or elephant that you could share? We’d love to see them.

  4. Hi Jonni, what a sweet little rabbit! Your sculptures always have such personality. I love your choice of base…that’s the way to think outside of the box! I finally found someone to make my bases. He is this expert wood worker that does wood turnings usually but is great for bases and has no issue in coming up with what I want. He also barely charges anything for his service! ( I usually will give him more than what he asks because I am so delighted!) I found him selling his stuff at local craft fairs.
    I do have a question about the DAS clay. Is it waterproof? I have never heard of it.

    • Hi Eileen. You’re so lucky to have found someone who could make your bases for you. I’m sure he’s proud of being asked to help you create your sculptures. 🙂

      The DAS modeling clay is water-based. I’m sure it will soften if it gets wet again. It isn’t “real” clay, of course, but anything that’s water-based and hardens when it dries (as opposed to a chemical reaction like plaster or epoxy) is bound to get soft again when it gets wet. But it’s still fun to play with. When wet it’s stiffer than I usually make my own air dry clay recipe, which would make it easy to get fine details. I could make my own recipe stiffer by adding more flour or corn starch, but then it doesn’t easily stick to itself. But DAS isn’t ‘perfect’ either – I do wish it wasn’t quite so soft after it dries, but it is easier to sand. As long as you’re really, really careful!

      • Hi Jonni, I was reading your post about your little rabbit and I thought “I can do that” so I am going to try one or maybe even two or three. I have lots of wooden pieces to use for bases. I even have candlesticks that I was going to use for doll bases, but now I could maybe perch a little bunny on them. I still haven’t accomplished much other than some digital art, but I keep hoping one of the days! As for Das clay I had some for years and by the time I went to use it, it was hard as a rock and I had to soak it for days before I could use any of it. My fault, of course but I don’t recall it ever being that great.
        I still visit your site every day and enjoy it so much. Today my favourite post was the big bottomed ladies .

        BTW, June 10 was my 90th birthday. I’m kind of proud of that. A beautiful

  5. I was not able to download my cat and wolf patterns at the library. We tried multiple times but did not work. Can you send them another way. Thank you

    • Hi Anne Marie. It sounds like you were using a computer with a security setting that won’t allow PDF downloads. Do you have access to a private computer? I can have the links sent to your email address again, but if you can’t access the email from a computer that allows PDFs, I’m afraid it won’t help. If you don’t have access to another computer, let me know and I’ll have your purchase price refunded.

    • Also, I just checked my sales records, and I don’t see your email listed. Did you use a different email address than the one you used to post a comment on the blog?

  6. Thanks Jonnie I’ve made almost all your animals,horse fish dachshund pig, etc.Your books are great and easy to follow. Do you ever make primitive animals?

    • Hi Pat. I haven’t done that, but I’d like to see some samples of what you had in mind. Do you have a favorite artist who’s website you’d like to share?

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