Painting the Tiny Paper Mache Dogs

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Paper Mache Terrier I finished painting the little dogs that will be used to demonstrate various techniques in my new book, and I think they came out rather nice. As you’ll see in the video, I’m trying to keep the painting as simple as possible. The sculptures are so small that you can get away with very basic painting methods. No magnifying glass for me!

I’m in the final stretch of writing the book. All the patterns are done. The painting chapter is the only one left to write, and I’ll start on it this afternoon. Then it’s time to find the typos, and I’m done.

I noticed something interesting when I was building the sample dogs for the book. Each time I made another little dog, the nose would be a little big bigger, and the dog was less “realistic.” I spent less time worrying about “getting it right,” and more time playing with the character, the expression, and the posture. You can see the progression by looking at the first one I made, the Irish Setter (standing elegantly in her fine feathered coat) and then looking at the terrier that I made using the Fox Terrier pattern, but who ended up being a mutt because I couldn’t resist adding that mustache!

This book is going to be different from the other ones I’ve written, because the emphasis is on techniques that can be used for a wide variety of breeds, instead of writing a separate chapter with detailed instructions for each individual breed, the way I’ve done it in previous books. That way, I have space for more patterns while using fewer pages, which will let me charge less for the book.

My inspiration for doing it this way came from a book of patterns for carving dogs that I found in our local library. I can’t include as many patterns as the author of that book because I include way more pages of instruction — but I liked the basic idea. By simplifying the process and keeping the price down, I’m hoping more people will be attracted to paper mache as an art form. A lot of people still think it’s all about slapping paper strips on a balloon!

I could use some help finding a good title for the book. I wanted to call it Patterns for 25 Tiny Paper Mache Dogs, but when I tell people what the title is, they think that all the patterns are for toy dogs, like Chihuahuas and Yorkies (tiny dogs, instead of tiny sculptures). How can I word it so it won’t be misunderstood? I want people to know the sculptures are small, but there are patterns for both big and little breeds. And I do need to use the words “paper mache dogs,” in that order, so Amazon.com’s search engine will know what the book is about — but that’s the only part that’s set in stone. Ideas?


36 thoughts on “Painting the Tiny Paper Mache Dogs”

  1. Hi Jonni – hope all is well with you. Love love your tiny cute dogs – but bet they would be just as impressive life size.

  2. Salve Jonni,o nonna Jonni,sono incapato per caso nei suoi lavori di cartapesta,e devo dire che ne sono rimasto affascinato,ha le mani d’oro!Io sono uno appassionato di lavori manuali e mi affascina tutto e tutti i materiali,quindi quando posso e quando ho tempo mi diletto a fare delle cosine,la mia passione piu’ Grande sono i presepi che ognii anno rifaccio,di nuovi,e diversi anno per anno!Non volevo prolungarmi tanto,volevo solo chiederle,se era possibile avere gli schemi per i cani!GRAZIE E COMPLIMENTI DI NUOVO ALLA NONNA Michelangelo
    GIUSEPPE da Spinea-Venezia-Veneto-Italia
    P.S.Le invio anche dei miei lavori,sono graditi commenti e consigli!

    • I hope you like it! When you finish one of your new dog sculptures, be sure to post it here so we can all see how it turns out.

  3. Hi Jhonni,

    It’s really amazing , …..Thank you so Much to sharing these videos….It’s really helpful for me also.,


  4. Hi Jonni,
    The dogs are adorable. I look forward to ordering my copy.
    My suggestion for a title,
    Paper Mache Dogs in Miniture (25 patterns)
    Miniture Paper Mache Dog Patterns

  5. Hi Jonni – Greetings from Australia.
    I have no doubt your new book will be a big hit with dog lovers – it looks great.
    My suggestion for a title is……’How to make paper mache dogs……25 breeds to create in miniature’.
    Then, if you wanted to, you could mention somewhere in the book that the individual patterns can be increased in size to suit personal requirements/breeds if necessary.
    I love your emails – both you and your creations are a real inspiration, thank you.
    Regards to all in your little corner of the world and I wish you every success with the book.

    • Ooh – thanks Jane. I like your title suggestion. It brings together a lot of the ideas that other readers have submitted, too. I’m going to think about this one for a while…

      • Thank you, Jonni – I hope my title suggestion is helpful to you and gives you some food for thought.
        I am a writer and I just LOVE composing poetry, songs, etc. I also host International students so I am helping them every day with their English language & studies as well.
        I write by visualization which I find allows me to write something very quickly and easily. When it comes to a ‘title’, my main aim is to attract people’s attention but leave them wanting more information. That way, they will pick up the book and open it to satisfy their curiosity. (In your case it would probably be to see if THEIR breed of dog was in there so I feel that you should include ’25 breeds’ or ’25 individual breeds’ somewhere in the title – that will then force people to look further). It’s called ‘human nature’….we are ALL curious creatures when it comes to things we are interested in.
        I’ve always lived/written with the belief that ‘less is more’ and it has always worked for me.
        I hope this suggestion helps you with your final decision.

        • Thanks, Jane, you make some excellent points. And now you have me curious. What do you mean when you say you “write by visualization?” I tried to write a novel last winter, and I failed miserably. Maybe I need to know more about your technique. Is there a book or website that talks about it, or is it a writing method you developed yourself?

  6. Jonni, I can’t wait for your dog book to come out. I love the ones you painted, especially the mutt! (I agree with Eileen!)

    I’ve been buried in the yard, but have been seriously working on a rhino piggy bank and another chicken. Thanks for the rhino pattern. I wanted to make it a baby rhino, but the horns got big. I thought I was almost finished and then decided to cover it with the air-dry clay. I haven’t made that in a while and had a lot of fun with it. Today, I began adding folds on the skin, like the armor. I just got carried away! Next time I do a piggy bank, I want to try the plaster wrap. It literally took me half a day to remove the insides of the rhino.

    Thanks, Rex

    Also, I wanted to mention one thing I tried on Big Bird when I finished her. I sprayed her with a gloss spray. I then covered her with a number of coats of Golden matt varnish. (The instructions said the varnish worked better if first covered with a gloss vanish, I believe.) I didn’t want her shiny, and I liked the finished product. She doesn’t shine and the matt varnish went on well.

    • Rex, I can’t wait to see that rhino! And thanks for the info on the varnish. That’s something worth remembering, for sure.

  7. All the dogs are so cute. I like the size it is less intimidating for us beginners something we can try, make mistakes but still have a sculpture. But the more advanced can still have fun with more details. What happened to the Chihuahua? I am partial to that one because I have a similar type dog. Was he a little bit larger or was that my imagination? How about “Making 25 Paper Mâché Dogs in Miniature”. Anyway thanks for the tutorial and no matter what the title it will surely be a hit!

    • Thanks Pam. And yes, the Chihuahua is a little bigger – I had to fit the patterns in the book into a specific size, so they would print well, and the Chihuahua pattern wasn’t in a book, so I could make him any size I wanted. I have been fighting with myself about whether or not I should include him, but I think I will – the pattern has to shrink, of course, but still – it doesn’t seem fair to leave him out.

  8. I just love the tiny sculptures of dogs. Especially the Jack Russell. I have two Jack Russells and you have absolutely captured their character!
    I love everything you do!!!!
    I am always so excited to see emails from you and save all of them in a special file ‘Joni’ file on my computer.
    Thank you for your works and inspiration…

    • Hi Annie. That’s so awesome – I get my own file! 🙂 And thanks for your kind comments about the terrier – I really wanted to make him look like he was having fun.

  9. These sculptures are marvelous. I discovered your site when I was trying to find ways to take my polymer sculptures to a larger size. I found your recipes and tried the paper mache. The underlying armature is very similar for paper mache and polymer. With paper mache I can make it as large as I want and not have the cracks and other problems I was running into with the clay. It also dropped the cost a LOT. As they are paper they are easy to paint. Which is my first love in art. Now I can do three dimensional paintings!

    • Hi Lynn. I love the painted bowls on your pinterest page. And have you finished that dragon box? I’d love to see how it came out.

      • Waiting till school is out and I can focus on my projects. Just three more weeks of teaching and I can spend all day, during summer break, on my art. Right now I am experimenting with forms and techniques nights and weekends.

  10. Jonni you did it again! Love the little dogs and just have to try to make a Jack Russell for my hubby.
    Love them all.

  11. “mini sculptures of man’s best friend”
    paper mache dogs
    25 patterns

    Hi Jonni,
    I just adore your work! What ever the name of your next book, I can’t wait to purchase it!!
    Have a grand day,

  12. Hi Jonni,
    First of all thankyou so much for a wonderful site. You have inspired and helped many people like myself to get into paper mache.
    As for your book I would just delete the word ‘tiny’. In the art world I think tiny can also be misread as to being sculptures that are only like 5 cm tall etc.
    Good luck, I’m sure the book will be a great success.

  13. Jonni, your dogs are really adorable! It would be cute to have a bunch of them together on a base, playing.
    As far as the title goes, could it be-“Paper Mache Dogs- 25 tiny patterns” or “25 Tiny Patterns for Paper Mache Dogs”. In other words, use your own wording but put the word tiny describing the word pattern rather than the word dog. You could also use the word small. Also, all of your books have the “Make” or “How to make” in the title. Perhaps you could continue that as well-sort of a trademark and people would know it is a How to book.
    Good luck on finishing the book, we all hope it will be successful!

    • Thanks, Eileen. You’ve given me something to think about. Combining your ideas and Sonyas, maybe something like How to Make 25 Paper Mache Dogs: Patterns for Small Sculptures You Can Make with Wire, Foil, Paper and Paste. It’s a little long, but maybe sticking the “small” next to “sculptures” in the subtitle would do the trick. Hmmm…

    • Joni,
      I love your creativity and ideas and I can’t wait to get started on a project. I would love to make a few of these pups for my doll collection! I might try something like “Paper mache patterns for 25 dog breeds… you can make in miniature” or something like that!


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