Make a Little Owl with Paper Mache Clay

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This little owl starts out with a simple cardboard pattern and a fast sketch.

If you’d like to download my pattern, click the button below:

The video gives you all the details, but for a quick overview, here’s how the little owl is made:

What you’ll need:

  • Light cardboard
  • Aluminum foil
  • Hot glue
  • Wire for the feet
  • Paper Mache Clay (click here for the recipe)
  • A base (I used a small plastic cup)
  • Acrylic gesso or latex primer
  • Acrylic paint. I used Burnt Umber, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Blue, Yellow Oxide and White

This project was inspired by the little Folk Art Bunny I made last year. If you’d like to make him, too, click here to see how it was made.

You might also want to read my new post “how to make paper mache in 5 steps.”

Remember – if you’re looking for photographic models for this little owl, search for Saw-Whet Owl. They’re little – but they have different colors and spots than the official “little owl.” But go ahead and look at the Little Owls, too, because you might like their colors and spot better. 🙂

More owls:

Step 1 – Draw or Print the Pattern:

Pattern for the little owl

Draw the pattern on light cardboard, or print my pattern and stick it to cardboard. Then cut out the wings, the eye feathers, and the beak.

Step 2 – Make a Base:

Base for little owl made with plastic cup

I used a small plastic cup that I covered with masking tape, and then paper mache clay. Look around your house to see if you have something that would work for your little owl sculpture.

Step 3 – Make the Body and Head:

Crumple foil for the owl's body and head

Crumple foil into the shape of the body and head on the sketch of the little owl. Then stick them together with hot glue.

Step 4 – Attach the Wings:

Attach the wings to the owl's body

Use hot glue to position the wings so they look like your owl sketch.

Step 5 –  Make the Feet:

Make the feet for the little owl

Each foot is made with two pieces of wire, held together with small strips of masking tape where they cross. Cover the toes with foil, so they look like the feet in the drawing. Use hot glue to keep the foil from sliding around on the wire.

Step 6 – Attach the Feet to the Body:

Attach the owl's feet to his body

Make sure the owl, with his feet attached, will fit on the base you’ve selected. Also make sure the owl stands up properly.

If there are any spots on the owl’s head or body that look too flat or just not the right shape, add more crumpled foil with hot glue.

Step 7 – Add the Eye Feathers and Beak:

Add the eye feathers and beak

The eye feathers and the beak are bent in the middle. If you have some rounded buttons, attach them to the eye feathers now, where the eyes have been drawn. If you don’t have any, you can make them later with paper mache clay, like i did.

Step 8 – Add Paper Mache Clay:

Add paper mache clay

Apply your paper mache clay with a knife. Dip the knife in water to smooth the surface of the clay. Use the edge of the knife or a modeling tool to add simple feather shapes.

When you run out of any place that you can hold on to the owl without messing up the wet paper mache clay, let it dry before moving on. I dried my little owl in the oven at 200° F (93.33° C). If you use a thin layer of paper mache you should be able to dry it enough to handle in about an hour.

If you’re using a plastic cup for the base, like I did, don’t put it in the oven. It could melt.

If you don’t have some round buttons for eyes, sculpt the eyes, allow them to dry, and then add more paper mache clay for the eye feathers.

Sculpting eyes on the little owl

Step 9 – Attach the Little Owl to the Base:

Attach the little owl to the base

When the paper mache clay is dry on both the little owl and the base, use a glob of paper mache to stick them together. You may need to do some clean-up work to make them look natural. I added a little more paper mache clay to the base so the claws were in a better position.

Allow all of the paper mache clay plenty of time to dry all the way through – at least overnight. You never want to paint any paper mache if there’s any moisture left inside.

Step 10: Paint Your Little Owl

Paint the little owl sculpture

You can paint your owl like I did in the video. However, I highly recommend that you do a search online for images of a Saw-Whet Owl. Then use the colors of your favorite owl for you model.

Step 11: Show off Your Owl:

We all want to see how your owl comes out! Be sure to come back to the Daily Sculptors Page and show him off. There’s a link to it at the top of every page of this site, so it gets a lot of visitors. 🙂

This little fellow would be a great gift for someone who likes birds. If you have some ideas for other small, easy sculptures that would be fun to make, please let us know.

Make this little owl with paper mache clay.

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