Life-Sized Lion Cub Sculptures

lion mask patternNote: I recently created a new lion head pattern. The downloadable pattern is made with cardboard pieces taped together, plus one layer of paper mache and that lovely raffia mane (made with a cheap table skirt). It’s easy to make, but it looks fantastic. It’s become one of the most popular patterns on the site.

And now, back to the original post:

I’ve been working on a set of four large sculptures of lion cubs, and two of them are now finished. These two are playing with each other, in cat-like fashion.

These are quite large – the sitting lion cub is 15″ high, 22″  long and 12″ wide. The upside-down cub is 14″ high, 26″ long and 12″ wide.

I wanted all the lions to be close to the same size and age, so I made a face with plasticine clay and created a urethane mold. I pressed a bit of the paper mache clay (recipe shown on a recent post ) into the mold so I would have four lion cubs from the same litter. Then each face was slightly modified after it was attached to its body.

The form for the bodies was made from wire, crumpled paper and masking tape, and covered with paper mache strips and paper clay.

The upside-down cub was a lot of fun to make, but she really needs one of her playmates nearby in order to see why she’s upside down. Here’s two photos the cubs alone:

Upside-Down Lion Cub
Upside-Down Lion Cub
Lion Cub, Sitting
Lion Cub, Sitting

These cubs were made specifically for the Bellingham art show I’ve been telling you about lately. I’m hoping that someone will purchase two of the cubs together so my little upside-down lion will have a permanent playmate. If not, she may be coming back home – which would be OK. If that happens, I’ll just make her someone to play with in my living room.

I’m still not sure how to price these guys. I’ve searched all over the web and I can’t find anything that’s really comparable. Any suggestions would be welcome. In a few days I’ll show you the other two cubs.

20 thoughts on “Life-Sized Lion Cub Sculptures”

    • I’m sorry, Teri. I don’t do commissions. I’m much too busy with my blog and writing books. I hope you can find someone to make your fawn for you.

      • Hello Jonni,

        I just recently started learning to do paper mache and paper mache paste. I absolutely love it. I am a member of my local Lion’s Club and have been asked to do a large (male) lion for the club (to use in special events and parades.) Do you have a template for a complete lion? If there is any advice you would like to share, I am all ears.

        I love your site!!!! Please keep up the great work. I have already learned so much from it.

        Lion Kelly

  1. I read about joint compound through your site. Thank you very much . Joint compound is wonderfull media for modeling. I am started to make a deer with paper mache. I made deer horns with paper mache and gave one last coat with joint compound then smoothed and finished. This joint compound coating will crack or flake off in future?.
    Need to give one more layer with toilet paper ?.
    Please advise. Thank you. I am from UAE.

    • If using the joint compound alone, it may crack if there’s any flexibility at all in your sculpture. I would cover it with one more layer of paper mache.

  2. Hi Jonni,

    Wonderful sculptures………amazed to see the eyes they look so lively.Are they also of PM ?
    I had a query, hope you don’t mind answering.I was looking for joint compound two things I came across one was putty (ready mix joint compound with something else also) and the other was white cement.The person at the store said both are same and I bought the White cement powder. Can it be used in place of joint compound? I plan to build a bookcase which needs to be sturdy enough.

    • Hi Payal. Yes, the eyes are painted, not glass.

      Are you looking for joint compound here in the states? It comes in a plastic bucket, and is a spreadable mixture that looks like plaster after it dries. It’s used in the building trades to cover the joints between drywall sheets in new walls. I just did a Google search for White Cement Powder, and it looks like it’s about the same thing as Portland cement – which cures as hard as a rock after you mix it with water. That is definitely not what I use with my paper mache sculptures or paper clay recipe.

      You can read up on joint (drywall) compound here

      I’m curious. How do you plan to make a bookcase with paper mache? That sound interesting. I hope you’ll let us see it when it’s done.

      • Hi Jonni,

        eyes in your sculpture are masterpiece…..they bring the whole sculpture to life.I hope some day I’ll be able to make them as good as you.

        I am in Singapore.DIY stuff is difficult to find here. My search is still on, trying to find some local term people here are familiar with.I’ll surely share the pics. of the bookcase once it is done.

  3. Plus vrais que nature. Fantastique. Un vrai don que vous avez la… J’aime beaucoup…On s’attend à les voir rugir..

      • Quite true – I’m not bilingual. But I do run French and other foreign-language comments through Babelfish – which is good enough to catch anything that wouldn’t be family-friendly, but sometimes it’s just a bit off.

        For instance Babelfish translated Marielune’s last line as “One expects to see them howling.” Close, but wrong species.

        Thanks for clearing that up for us.

  4. Oh man, Jonni!! You’re being so creative with the “cat” theme. I’m SO glad you agreed to participate!

    H just took one look, and said, “Oh my gawd. {repeat, repeat} That’s it. I quit!” (Don’t worry; he doesn’t dare quit on me now!)

    I’ve decided where your stuff is going. In the window, front and center. And off to the left. And over to the right.

      • In a word, NO! *ack* I’m spending so much time setting up the show (venue, funding, legal stuff, furniture, advertising …) I haven’t had time to create anything yet!
        I’m a bachelorette this weekend, so I’m going to hit it hard!


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