Highland Cow Faux Taxidermy Mount

cow mask patternNote: Since making the highland cow in the video I designed a downloadable pattern for a paper mache cow head. I haven’t tried it yet with that crazy long hair, but if you’d like to make a highland cow for yourself, the pattern would give you a really fast start. (It’s way easier than the way I made the cow in the video!) The new cow is made with cardboard pieces that you tape together and cover with one layer of paper mache. Then add horns (and yarn if you want), and you’ve got yourself a unique wall sculpture or mask.

And now, back to the original post:

highland cow tnSeveral people have asked me to make a paper mache trophy mount, and this week I decided to give it a try. It took much longer than I thought it would, and I made a lot of changes along the way, but in the end I think my Highland Cow came out rather nice. It isn’t a “wild” animal, of course, but I thought it would be fun to put a wig on a cow. 🙂

I don’t think I’ve ever made anything that was colored entirely with paper, instead of paint. I didn’t really set out to do it that way, but when I saw how nice the brown paper looked on the head and ears, I decided to do the nose with some colored tissue paper I had lying around. It took several tries, and the first few attempts were pretty horrible – but she finally ended up with a nose I could live with.

This video is not intended as a tutorial – I was way too disorganized while I made this critter. (I think my head was still just a little fuzzy from the flu). But I do think it’s important to remember that a project doesn’t always work exactly the way you expect it to. Just because you run into problems along the way, it doesn’t necessarily mean you should just give up. Maybe you just need to sit back for a minute, and ponder alternatives.

I won’t be mounting my cow on a wooden plaque, like a taxidermist would do, because she fits in better with my other masks without the plaque. She does have a flat piece of cardboard on the back, though, so it would be easy to glue the head onto a piece of wood if I ever decided that I wanted to.

The books I mentioned at the end of the video:

The Art of Animal Drawing: Construction, Action Analysis, Caricature

An Atlas of Animal Anatomy for Artists

Animal Anatomy for Artists: The Elements of FormHighland Cow Faux Taxidermy Mount



25 thoughts on “Highland Cow Faux Taxidermy Mount”

  1. Hi jonni
    Your creatives are awesome and I’m very glad to find you.
    I love your work, your explanation and your smile.?
    I have a question for you and I will be happy if you help. Can you tell me how to add hair (yarn) to the head of the sculptures?
    And I will be happy to see if you post in this field

    • Hi Elly. I rarely add hair to my sculptures – I think the Highland cow was one of the only times I did that. However, we have a lot of readers on the Daily Sculptors page who might have some good tips for you. Go ahead and copy your question in the comment area on that page.

  2. I found your video because after making a paper mache llama last year, I had been wanting to try a highland cow, and look–you already did it! I just wanted to say that I appreciated your video, especially with all the challenges you faced and problem-solving that you demonstrate. Your love of the process shows through in the final product as well. I hope I can show this video to students in the future as they work through their own artistic challenges! Thank you!

    • Hi Rachel. Yes, I do hope you’ll show the video to your students. I sometimes feel a little silly showing people that I don’t know exactly how I’ll create something before I start, (most people prefer to look a little more professional when thousands of people are watching 🙂 ) but all those mistakes and challenges are part of the creative process.

      I hope you’ll show us your highland cow when it’s done!

  3. Awesome, Jonni. She is beautiful. A very professional job. Who wouldn’t love her?

    Even though it would be wonderful if every project went smoothly, I had to smile when the scalpel appeared because I am so familiar with that process. Thanks so much.

  4. A great video, it’s lovely to see how you tried different way to achieve your goal. I’m learning a lot. Thank you for your website, Jill x

  5. I want!!!!
    I totally love highland cows and when I saw this Jonni I nearly fell out of my chair! I have not got a crafting bone in my body but I want it so bad!!!!
    Happy birthday to me!!! LOL
    I would love to think that…..LOL

    Thanks for sharing all your hard work with us. Even if we can’t have it.. LOL I am just jealous because you are so very talented!!!
    God bless you Jonni I will continue to watch your videos and just be in awe of all your hard work.
    Thanks again for your videos!
    (Tina from The Royal Room http://www.youtube.com/iamqueentinaful)

  6. Jonni, that looks wonderful. I have been planning on doing a faux taxidermy trophy mount for some time now. What I had in mind was a Triceratops or some other suitable dinosaur. Funnily enough, the thing that bothers me most is how to get the board right. I really want it to look like a hunting trophy

  7. Hi
    I’ve been looking for a mask tutorial for cow, then I found this one. Beautiful by the way – love it!
    My problem is that I need a tutorial that’s easy for primary school kids to make for their play!
    Do you happen to have anything like that for me? 🙂

    Looking forward to hear from you
    Best regards

    • Hello, Björk. I have never worked with kids, so I’m probably not the right person to ask. However, one of our readers recently mentioned that she taught a workshop for kids a month or so ago. Nancy may have some good advice for you. I’d suggest that you ask her by replying to to one of Nancy’s recent comments.

      And just in case one our other readers might have some advice, you might want to also ask over on the Daily Sculptors’ page, where a lot of people subscribe to the comments.

  8. Jonni,
    Right, it’s all for (educational) fun. It’s the joy that you manifest in your creative process that makes you such an inspiration to me. I always learn so much from your videos regardless of their level of “professionalism”. I’ll be looking for your Bongo antelope, I know it’ll be great. Happy Thanksgiving.

  9. Hi Jonni,
    I love the cow, especially the hair. Even better that the yarn seemed to be waiting in the back of your closet for such a time as this. I so appreciate the way you invite us into your process whether it’s all smooth sailing and going according to plan or a lesson in tenacity and creative flexibility such as the case of your cow. As always, you’re such an inspiration. Thank you.

    • Thanks, Rita. I learned a lot while making this cow. And I like her so much, I’m already planning another fake trophy mount – a Bongo antelope. All the fiddling around doesn’t help produce a very “professional” video, but that’s OK. It’s all for fun anyway, right? 😉

  10. Hi jonni, I have a question. I made a batch of clay, your great reciepe.but, I had it in a ziploc in the fridge for a couple days then on the counter. Is it still good. I usually use it quicker. It was sticky, touching a little with flour seems easy to handle. No mold etc… is this still good, hehe .thank you

  11. Well done Jonni- what a character she is. We have a few of those cows near us and they fascinate me. I slow down every time they are out! The hair is a riot as well. A beautiful addition to your mask wall.

  12. Another great job Jonni. I love your work. Where do you find time, along with trying to sell you home, to do such amazing work?
    I have a question for you.
    I made 7 of your tree toppers and they turned out quit well ( as my husband says) but I am having trouble with them becoming tacky. I made them last winter after xmas and waited for a few weeks to paint them with folk art paint and then sprayed with 2 coats of Krylon matte finish 1311. And know I want to get ready for xmas and they are tacky??? The indoor temp. is 68 to 62 and the humidity, as I write you, is 45%. I just can’t figure out what happened.
    Any help would be grateful.
    Thanks and keep warm,

    • Hi Melinda. This is curious. I’m looking at my tree topper right now (slightly cracked, after the cat knocked it on the floor) and it isn’t at all tacky. Where did you store your tree toppers between holidays? Is it possible that they picked up some moisture, perhaps through the hollow part inside, where they perhaps weren’t sealed? If you put them in front of a fan in a warm, dry area, they may dry out again and be as good as new. Give it a try, and then let us know if it works.

      • Thanks Jonni for getting back so quick.
        I sealed the inside with your gesso recipe, painted with the same paint as the outside, and sprayed with krylon.
        I left the angels out on a side table all year.
        The one thing is, I did not have to run the AC this year.
        I have put the angels in front of the woodstove with the stove blower running for 11 hours. 3 out of 7 angels dried, and 4 stayed a little tacky, but better. Tonight, the 4 are still tacky so I started rubbing them thinking maybe I could take off the excess and that seemed to help.
        Thanks for your help and suggestions

  13. Love it. The result and the video. And you can always call it an inspirational tutorial. I at least got a lot out of it. Thanks again.

  14. Awesome, Jonni. She is beautiful. A very professional job. Who wouldn’t love her?

    Even though it would be wonderful if every project went smoothly, I had to smile when the scalpel appeared because I am so familiar with that process. Thanks so much.

  15. Jonni,
    I am glad you are feeling better, sometimes it seems to take forever to get over the flu.
    Your highland cow looks wonderful and you captured it beautifully! Before moving to FL there was a farmer a couple towns over in a small Central NY town who had these cows in his barn yard, I LOVED to look at them. Your faux head brings back fond memories 🙂

  16. Wow! It turned out great! I love that you put up the video of your struggles and how you overcame them. I sometimes get frustrated with challenges while crafting and stop what I am doing for months so it was good to see you keep on going. Can’t wait to use some of your tips!

  17. Great personality on that cow! And her hairdo really makes her distinctive. I’ve tried a few mounts–a deer last spring and this fall a wacky rabbit and a little pygmy goat.
    I’ll post them on the daily sculpture page when I get a chance.


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