Cris Kelly’s very tall paper mache giraffe still doesn’t have his spots, but I encouraged her to write a guest post right away so we could see how it was made. What a challenging project! Thank you, Cris, for showing us how you built the armature for your giraffe. I can’t wait to see what he looks like after you paint him!
Making A Paper Mache Giraffe
©2018 Cristiana Kelly
I had recently moved to a new house that had very tall ceilings. The space just screamed “Giraffe”….and I went about making a life sized giraffe out of paper mache.
I had purchased Jonni Good’s ‘Paper Mache Animals’ book a couple of years ago and made some of the animals in the book. After doing the small pig, I decided to make a life sized pig, which still sits in my living room, with repairs to him after a large earthquake. Making the large pig gave me the confidence to tackle a very tall giraffe.
I started collecting things I needed for the armature of the giraffe. I knew I had to keep it lightweight as I would be moving it around on my own. I gathered what I had in my garage (narrow pieces of wood, tape, chicken wire and cardboard) I needed Styrofoam for the giraffe’s bulk (chest area and rump) I posted a request on my local Nextdoor Neighborhood site for some large pieces of Styrofoam… and got A LOT of responses! I had all the Styrofoam I needed.
I set up in the garage with enough space around me to not feel cramped. I started with the belly, using a large cardboard tube. I hung the tube from a rafter at the correct height, then started adding the legs (thin pieces of wood, cardboard, paper, Styrofoam and some rebar). Styrofoam provided the bulk of the hips. The chest is cardboard and lots of newspaper.
The neck was the most difficult. I wanted it very stable, with a slight curve at the neck. I used a 6 foot long cardboard tube form (normally used for cement) from a local hardware store. For the curve at the top I used chicken wire that I taped to the top of cardboard neck.
The head was made with chicken wire and LOTS of tape. I used a ladder and a stairwell to get up that high.
With the added weight of paper mache, the legs started spreading a bit. I secured them with some wood and a small metal pole.
The armature done, I started with newspaper and flour/water mix and put on several layers. The mane and end of tail are made from newspaper without the paste.
I’m not completely finished with the giraffe, I’m not sure what colors it wants to be. I’m looking forward to adding the beautiful eyelashes that giraffes have, along with it’s final color, whatever that might be.