This paper mache chick is a great project for Spring break.
It’s a fast project, although getting the legs to balance correctly can be a little tricky.
With any two-legged sculpture, you have to keep fiddling with the wire legs and the toes until it stands solidly on a flat surface. Make sure it’s standing up straight before you start adding paper mache clay.
Then keep testing it while the clay is being added, because the weight may be distributed unevenly. the legs or toes might need to be bent a little more, to keep the little fellow standing upright.
I used the same wire leg system with my raven and my dodo bird. For larger sculptures, you need heavier wire, of course, but the system works with any size bird.
When I started this project I had chickens on my brain, because I’d just received a shipment of ten real baby chicks in the mail. They were adorable! Naturally, I had to put my paper mache clay chick in the brooder to see how she looked, but I don’t think the real ones were fooled. 🙂
How to make a baby chick for Easter with paper mache clay:
Step 1: Creating the framework for the baby chick’s legs and feet.
I started out by bending some wire into a “U” shape, then adding all four toes. If I did this again, I would not double the wire on the back toes this way – although it was easy to tape the feet together, the extra bend made the back toe too thick.
Step 2: Covering the wire legs and toes.
The wire was completely covered with masking tape to prevent rust from migrating through the wet clay and ruining the final finish on the bird.
If I make another bird sculpture I’ll look for some tape that stretches a better than masking tape, so the wire legs and toes will be smoother. I’m considering the tape used for bandages, but that’s for another experiment…
I also padded the thigh area at this point. Since I had some aluminum foil on my work table I decided to use it for padding instead of the usual crumpled paper. Of course, the paper would have worked just fine, but the foil is easier to work with. I made my Blue Egyptian Hippo with crumpled foil, too.
Step 3: Adding the rounded shapes of the chick.
As you can see in the photo above, I started padding the body, building up the separate parts as I worked.
The lower tummy was first, fitted inside the wire that connects the two padded thighs.
Then I added the chest and neck, and then filled out some more on the back and added the head and wings.
Since I was using aluminum foil, it was easy to pinch a bit on the front of the head to make a beak.
All of the foil was completely covered with masking tape. When the body was filled out I bent the legs to make sure the bird would stand up without support.
Step 4: Adding the paper mache clay.
Next I made up a batch of paper mache clay. I was able to apply the paper mache clay in a very thin layer over the masking tape. Since we’re having very warm weather this week the clay dried very fast.
Tip: If I did this again, I’d use paper strips and paste to cover the legs and toes, because it’s easier to do that when covering wire. For everything else, I’d use paper mache clay.
To make the clay seem more “fuzzy” than smooth, I first spread the thin layer of clay on the baby chick, then dabbed it with the end of a stiff stencil brush. You can see in the photo that it made tiny bumps all over the chick.
Step 5: Adding eyes and other details.
I used the edge of a knife to make tiny feathers on the tip of the chick’s wings.
Then I took a ball-point pen apart and used the end of the ink tube to make the eyes perfectly round.
I used extra clay to form the cheeks and beak the way I wanted them. The photo above shows the chick after the clay dried, just before I painted her.
Step 5: Painting the baby chick.
The photo shows how the chick looked after it was painted with very soft colors.
You can clearly see in this photo that the back toe is too thick, as I mentioned earlier. Next time, I’ll do that part differently.
Other than that, I think she looks great.
For an even easier project, check out the paper mache bluebirds.
8 thoughts on “Make a Baby Chick for Easter with Paper Mache Clay”
Thanks I from san Antonio Texas. Enjoy your all your.Mache crafts.
Hi Jonni! Absolutley in love with your work. Very inspiring! I started working on a dragon a few months ago and I am at that point where I want it finished (Procrastination is my weakness :D) I do have one question (which I cannot find the answer to anywhere)! I’ve seen you use papermache clay over plaster cloth…but will plaster cloth stick to papermache clay? I want to do 3D scales over the clay body and I cannot achieve this with the clay (I’ve tried but I just cannot achieve the detail I’m after). Could I use bits of plaster cloth to make individual scales? Or will it not stick? Thanks in advance and best wishes from Belgium 🙂
Hi Becca. You have a great idea, but I’ve never tried it. I know you’re in a hurry, but I’d suggest doing some experiments (not on your dragon, of course) to see if you can get the look you want. Also, check out Cindy’s post, where she showed us how she made a dragon. Scroll down towards the bottom, and you’ll see how she used blue shop towels to create the scales. They probably aren’t the same type of scales you’re looking for, but it might give you some ideas. If you decide to use the shop towels, I recommend using the gesso recipe (joint compound mixed with white glue) for the paste. The glue helps it stick to dried paper mache clay.
Thankyou so much for your reply. And what a great post, i will definitley do some experimenting with the shop towel idea and gesso recipe!
Thanks for the re-post. It is a cute chick. Love the details and the information on your process. Helps a lot for us who have to learn the hard way!
(I used the same leg patterns for my ravens, but I forgot the “saddle” part. That would have made my life a lot easier, I see NOW. I did remember to use one wire on the rear leg.)
Jonni… Enjoyed this re-post! The little chick is charming… endearing! Daryle, from Woodstown Whimsies