How to Make a Paper Mache Bunny Sculpture

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This little paper mache lop-eared rabbit was a lot of fun to make, and only cost a few pennies in materials.

This is one of the very first projects I made for this blog. I hadn’t started using the cardboard patterns yet, and I hadn’t come up with the recipe for paper mache clay.

However, I have made many sculptures using these very simple techniques – it’s a fast, easy way to make a sculpture. And it’s fun, because you never know exactly how it will look until it’s done.

Step 1 – Starting to make the armature:

The bunny starts out with a wad of newspaper that is made into a ball for the bunny’s body. Once you have a ball that’s about the right size, cover it completely with masking tape.

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Rabbit, Step 1

Step 2 – Adding the legs and tail:

Next, add smaller scrunches of paper for the four legs and the tail. The front legs are slightly bent at the bottom to make the feet. The back legs have a wide section at the top for the knees. The tail is a small ball of crumpled paper.

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Rabbit, Step 2

Step 3 – Adding the bunny’s head and cutting the ears:

Now the head is added. It’s just another ball of crumpled paper.

Then cut two ears out of the cardboard from a cereal box.

Cut tabs at the top of the ears so you can bend them over and use them to tape the ears to the head.

You can make your bunny’s ears long enough to go all the way to the table, or you can make them stand up straight.

If you make lots of bunnies, you can make all of them have different ears, by changing the length and the way they’re attached to the head.

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Rabbit, Step 3

Step 4 – Adding the ears:

Tape the ears to the bunny’s head and bend them downward for lop ears.

A small bump of paper is added at the top of the ears to give them a realistic curve.

If your rabbit has ears that go straight up, just tape the tabs to the head and cover them with masking tape.

I left the details, like eyes, nose and toes, until after the paper and paste was dry.

If I made another rabbit I would go ahead and add those details now. Do it the way that is easiest for you.

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Rabbit, Step 4

Step 5 – Adding the paper mache:

Now the paper and masking tape are completely covered with strips of newsprint and a paste made from flour and water.

Do this in two stages – put paper mache on the bottom and let it dry, then cover the top.

My bunny was dried in an oven set at 200 F. (Never put paper mache projects in an oven that is hotter than that, because the heat will distort the shape.

And never put them near a fire or electric heater unless you want to burn down your house).

You can watch this video to see how to apply paper strips so they lay down nice and smooth.

I used the raw flour and water paste for my bunny, but you can use any recipe you like. You can see many paper mache recipes here.

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Rabbit, Step 5

Step 6: Adding Details

I let the paper mache dry and then added the details with paper towels dipped in the flour and water paste.

Bunnies don’t have too many details because they’re covered with fur. However, I wanted to have some nice toes, and I built her nose and mouth from pieces of paper towel.

I also gave her some “eyebrows”, and added a bump that some bunnies have on the top of their head.

Then I let the paper towels dry.

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Rabbit, Step 6

Step 7 – Making the bunny smooth:

When the paper mache was dry I used some premixed drywall joint compound to round out the bunny’s body. You can buy this product at the hardware store.

This step isn’t necessary, because many people like to leave the ridges and bumps that are created when you crumple paper – it gives the final project an unmistakable “paper mache” look.

You can watch this video to see how it can easily be applied in a paper-thin layer with a silicone spatula.

You can also spread it on with a wet finger, but it can dry out your hands, so might want to wear some gloves if you do it that way.

In any case, you want to spread it very thin. If it’s too thick it will crack when it dries.

As soon as the joint compound is dry, you can easily sand it, but that can make a real mess with dust all over the place. You will also want to wear a mask to keep the dust out of your lungs. I never sand my sculptures unless I absolutely have to, and then I do it outside – while wearing a mask!

I prefer to use a damp sponge instead of sanding, like I did in this video. Just rub it lightly over the drywall joint compound after the joint compound is dry.

Don’t rub too hard or you’ll damage the paper mache.

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Rabbit, Step 6

Step 9 – Painting your bunny:

Cover the entire bunny with a warm white craft paint, or mix acrylic paint with White and a tiny bit of Yellow Ochre or Naples Yellow. allow the white to dry. I used an old, stiff brush to create fur marks in the white paint.

Now add the spots:

To make your bunny look like mine:

  • Mix Black with water to make a light grey.
  • Mix Burnt Umber and Burnt Sienna to make an orange-brown, and thin it with water.ย 

I put on the orange spots first, and let them dry. Some of the orange was placed on the part of the ear closest to the head.

Then I added the light grey spots and painted the dark ears.ย 

The ears and cheeks are dark brown.

In the second photo below you can see that I’m trying to copy the colors of a real rabbit.

The eyes are painted black with a tiny spot of white for a reflection.

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Rabbit, painting 2

Painting over the fur texture with thinned acrylic paint creates a nice illusion of real hair, without having to paint in little hairs with a tiny brush.

The bunny was then finished with a coat of acrylic varnish. I always use a matte varnish on my animal sculptures, but you can use a satin or gloss varnish if you prefer a shiny coat.

Paper Mache Lop-Eared Rabbit, painting 1

110 thoughts on “How to Make a Paper Mache Bunny Sculpture”

  1. Hi Jonni! Such a wonderful idea and very smart of you. Thank you for sharing this! I’ am diffidently going to try this out I love rabbits so much. And this really inspired me! It’s a really brilliant piece of artwork that you did. It was really nicely done! And no matter what people say i think your very TALENTED! Also, instead of putting it in the oven can we put it out in the sun to dry? And what kind of paint would you recommend to use on this? Thank you so much, and i hope you come up with more things to share! Bye, and please write back.
    ~May

    Reply
  2. hello!
    i’m a year 11 student in highschool, and i have my major art work project due very soon.
    i hope to make a bower bird out of paper mache, (with it’s wings expanded, much like a pose before take off) but need this to be strong and sturdy and also easy to make in a short period of time (prefferably a week or less).
    are there any suggestions or tips you can give me, which i can carry out to create my bird? and also any suggestions as to make the wings SUPER strong, so they do not fall off at the drop of a hat?
    this is very important, as my project is due in 2 weeks time!
    thank you so much for your help, your site has amazed me.
    much appreciated,
    anthea ๐Ÿ™‚

    Reply
    • Hi Anthea. Boy – nothing like a deadline to spur the creative urges, eh?

      To make your wings strong enough to hold up, you’ll need to get some wire. Cut a piece of wire (tie wire from the hardware store is cheap and easy to bend) into the shape of the wings’ outline. The wire should be long enough to go all the way around one wing, over the top of the body, and around the other wing. Then, just to make sure, cut another piece of wire long enough to go across the top of one wing, under the body, and across the other wing. I suggest you make the body first, using crumpled paper and masking tape. After the general outline has been attached, bend the wire at the natural joints so the wings will have a believable position.

      Once your wire is in place, you can cut a piece of light cardboard, like the type used for cereal boxes, to the shape of each wing. Tape the cardboard to the wire and to the body where the wing is attached. Use lots of tape. If you want the wing feathers to be separated, like a real bird, you will need to have the cardboard feathers extend below the wire. It would probably be easiest to cut the wing feathers out individually and tape them on, overlapping them in a natural fashion. The tail feathers can be done the same way.

      OK, next, I would suggest that you completely ignore all the other information on the bunny post on this page, and use the paper mache clay recipe instead. One thin layer of the clay, on each side of each wing feather and over the entire body and wings will make a strong sculpture. It’s much faster and easier (and more fun, in my opinion) than doing it the traditional way with paper strips and paste. Once the first layer is dry, you can go back and add some feather texture with another very thin layer, and give the bird it’s eyes and beak details. Since you’re in a hurry, put the bird in front of a fan to dry.

      If you need some ideas on making feet and legs, check out the baby chicken post.

      Good luck! Please post a photo of your finished project – we’d all love to see it.

      Reply
  3. hello, i’m trying to do this but may I ask if there is another way in drying the bunny without the use of an oven? I don’t have an oven.. Immediate response will be very much appreciated. Thank You.

    Reply
    • Hi Kevin. You don’t have to use an oven to dry paper mache, but it does help it dry faster when the weather is cold or damp. Just put your bunny outside in the shade, or in any spot where it gets good air circulation. It should dry quickly without an oven.

      Reply
  4. I also create paper mache I have a question my paper mach always come out like a mummy can yuo teach me how to make it not look like a mummy?

    Reply
  5. I just now came across your bunny paper mache instructions – if it were all white — it would look exactly like my real life Sophie-bunny! – Anyway – if I could give a hint about using joint compound for a smooth base / finish – instead of sanding, (which causes alot of dust) – you can dampen a soft cloth (I’ve even used a paper towel) – and rub over the places you want to smooth out – works fantastic! – the trick is to not have a cloth that is too wet, or you will end up with ‘mud’ – I’ve done that with my paper mache crafts, (as well as when patching cracks on walls before painting)

    Reply
  6. You are a genius. I have been looking ALL OVER for good quality instruction on paper mache and I am SO glad I found your site! Thank you!

    Reply
  7. hi aa i really like to make a bunny mache sclupture it is really fun right now i am working on other one.the reason i bulid the bunny mache is because i love bunny

    Reply
    • I use a table knife to apply the joint compound. It’s made from calcium carbonate, crystalline silica and binders. You do not want to eat the stuff, and you really – really – don’t want it in your lungs, which can happen if you sand it without a mask. Be sure to read the warning label on the container before you begin.

      All that said, people who work with joint compound all day in construction end up with it all over them, including in their hair. If you use reasonable care to keep from ingesting or inhaling it, I can’t see why you would have any problems. However, I wouldn’t let young kids loose with it unless they were carefully supervised.

      Reply
  8. Heyy,

    i am trying to make this sculpture and i was just wondering how you made the eye? Did you use google eyes or just simply paint them? I seen that there was a grove made for the eye but im not sure how you did it :S

    Thanks
    xx

    Reply
    • Hi Stephanie. I just painted the eyes, but you could make a more convincing bunny if you used taxidermist’s eyes. I’ve never tried that, but I’m considering it for my next batch of critters.

      Reply
  9. I realise this may be asking alot.
    But I would really love to try to have a stab at making something similar to this myself, however in what you’ve written the materials required are kinda only just brushed over.

    For example I know i’d need joint compound. There are so many different types though and i’m wary of getting the wrong type.

    Even the glue I literally have no idea what that is. I really have very little experience reguarding anything like this but I feel this would be a perfect gift for someone I know so i’m willing to put my utmost into achieving something similar.

    Any links to where I can buy products or information you could provide me into what I would need or how much I can expect to be spending would help me a huge amount. I know it’s asking alot though so I understand if it’s too much. Basically if you’re going to reply you need to kind of treat it as telling someone who has no prior experience ๐Ÿ™

    Reply
    • Hi Memphis. To be honest, you don’t really need joint compound or glue to make a very nice paper mache sculpture. I just invented techniques using these products because it makes it easier for me to get the smooth finish I like. You can find joint compound at the local hardware store, and the small size (about $5) should last you for many projects. I don’t like the lightweight style of joint compound because it doesn’t seem as smooth right out of the container. Just get any brand of regular joint compound and you’ll do fine. The glue I used for the skim coat on the bunny was also from the hardware store (look for a small container of “carpenter’s glue.” Any brand is fine.) However, plain old Elmers white glue would also work just fine. Lately, I’ve been thinning joint compound with a little white glue for the final skim coat, and it seems a little easier than the flour/water/glue compound, simply because it’s so easy to sand and just one coat gives a very smooth finish.

      I hope this helps. Please let us know how your project turns out!

      Reply
      • Thank you very much for letting me know.
        and so fast too!

        I will let you know when i’m done. Thanks again for all the help you gave ๐Ÿ˜€

        Reply
  10. i am aa and it is reallllllllly good and iam going to make 1 just like mine [rabbit bb][img]undefined[/img][img]bb[/img][img]Bb[/img]

    Reply
    • I hope everyone takes a minute to go see Mario’s sculpture. It proves that you can take the basic instructions you find on this site and use the methods to create something all your own.

      Reply
  11. Hello Jonni, I very appreciate your support!

    I will follow your advice and add several layers to the neck. I managed that the bust can stand and now it works much easier. It will take a couple of more days, but it will be worth waiting.

    In the meantime I started with the upper cheek and the eye area of my velociraptor. I want to make this one in real life size, just like in Jurassic Park. Maybe worth mentioning: the velociraptor in JP isn’t a velociraptor in fact. It’s way to big. The original velociraptor was something about one meter in heights and was two meters long. The one in JP was from the same family and I make the head and the neck in this size.

    As I don’t know where you read this, I post the same comment on your blog too. Maybe it adds some value to your blog.

    You got me crazy with this stuff!

    Reply
  12. Hi Jonni,

    Maybe you can help me out. As I show in my third video, the neck broke. Would you suggest to remove the collar, make the neck stronger and then make a new collar, or would you recommend just to fill up the weak point a little.

    I’m going to love this stuff.

    Reply
    • Hi Mario. Your sculpture shows so much character! You must be very happy with it. When you get started on an idea, you really get to work, don’t you?

      I suggest, for the neck, that you simply reinforce it with several more layers of paper and paste. The head my be too heavy for the amount of paper you used for the neck. Prop it up so it won’t bend or flop around, and then add some heavy paper and paste, then let it dry. If it still isn’t strong enough, give it some more layers. The neck will be thicker than you intended, but you will eventually get it strong enough. If your sculpture is hollow so you can get into the inside of the neck, you could also reinforce it from the inside. Good luck with it. I’ll keep an eye out for your fourth video.

      Reply
    • Mario, you’ve done a wonderful job on your Tin-Tin sculpture. It’s obvious that the finished paper mache head is going to look great. Everyone should click on over to watch Mario’s video. While you’re there, check out his more “serious” blog posts, too.

      Reply
  13. Hi Jonni,

    Today I started my first paper mache project since I was a little boy. Based on this bunny. My first project is a easy one: the head of Tin Tin.

    It’s in the oven at the moment. I will share a photo with you once I am finished.

    Reply

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