Guest Post: Paper Mache Chameleon, and More

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Paper Mache Tigger Today we have a guest post from Marilyne, who has some very nice sculptures-in-progress to show us in addition to her Chameleon — and she also has a request for suggestions at the end of her post.

Before we get to her post, I just wanted to give you a link to a YouTube channel I found this morning that shows a fellow making realistic dinosaur sculptures. Most of them are made with epoxy clay, but he says he’s now moving to paper mache because it’s so much less expensive. It looks like he’s actually a dinosaur expert, so if you have any interest in making a sculpture of one of the long-departed beasts, you might want to watch a few of his videos.

And now, on to today’s guest post:

© 2014 Marilyne Henry

Hello everybody, my name is Marilyne, I’m French and I’ve always been inspired by nature, animals and creations of all kinds. At the beginning, words were my “weapons,” I used to write stories, lyrics, poems. I still do but recently, a big change in my life made me realize it was time to believe in myself. So, new home, new life, and challenges!

The first one was to build a big and famous tiger for my best friend’s son, that was when I discovered paper mache.

Then, I tried to find what I really wanted to make. Researches on the web led me to this great website, I tried different techniques and recipes, took some holidays and here are the results.

My first finished sculpture is a chameleon.

Marilyne 3
Marilyn’s Paper Mache Chameleon (click to see larger image)

I followed Jonni’s instructions, made a profile with cardboard, from a picture, used newspaper and masking tape to do the volumes. The piece of wood is made with a piece of wire, covered with newspaper. The paste I used is just made with mixed paper, water and flour. It takes 3 or 4 days to dry and I usually put a second layer, just to be sure it will be hard enough. Then, I sand it and paint it with acrylic paint. I’ll maybe put some varnish on top of it…

Now that my chameleon is nearly done, the next sculptures are a flying parrot, a squirrel, an iguana and a pink flamingo.

Marilyne's Flying Paper Mache Parrot
Marilyne’s Flying Paper Mache Parrot
Marilyne's Flying Paper Mache Parrot
Marilyne’s Flying Paper Mache Parrot
Marilyne's Paper Mache Squirrel
Marilyne’s Paper Mache Squirrel
Marilyne's Paper Mache Iguana
Marilyne’s Paper Mache Iguana
Marilyne's Paper Mache Pink Flamingo
Marilyne’s Paper Mache Pink Flamingo

I have some issues to make the flamingo’s legs. I’ve made them apart from the body because it’s really heavy and I want to empty it before attaching the legs. If anyone knows how I can pull this off, it would be really great. I made the legs apart from the body, and I made their armature with a very thick piece of cardboard (maybe 2cm), it’s very strong but when I put the paper paste on top of it, the legs become too big and look awful. Perhaps I should use a big piece of wire, make the legs with it and attach it inside the body before gathering the different parts… Suggestions, anyone?

Have a nice day everybody, and thank you for sharing your experiences, it really helps!!

37 thoughts on “Guest Post: Paper Mache Chameleon, and More”

    • Ulrike, I love this sculpture of Anubis! Your painting really makes this a unique piece of art as does the structure itself! thanks for sharing your work with us.

  1. Some good ideas about the flamingo legs.
    I’d go for twisted wire, that’s still bendable. Make it a single length, and bend it so it’s a ‘square U’ shape (Like the plastic pipe idea). That gives good ‘hip’ strength inside the body for the legs. Next, build up the legs’ shape with kitchen foil taped into position (masking tape, that is). Stop just short of the size (diameter) you want to end up with. Then add one or two layers of Jonni’s clay mix and dry thoroughly.
    I find that the dried PM clay gives good rigidity to any decent ‘sub-frame’.
    Good luck giving your bird ‘a leg to stand on’ (or two).

          • Oh my – I didn’t look closely enough when I first saw your photo. Thanks for adding another one – he must get some rather startled comments from your guests!

            Does he stay outside all year? If so, how did you make him weatherproof?

          • And I guess I don’t read very well, either! ;)

            So – he was sold at a charity auction. But the question still remains – is he intended to be displayed outside?

  2. Loved your work Marilyne !!! And thank you Jonni for the You Tube video I’m going there now to watch it and learn. :)

  3. Thanks everybody for your comments and advice! I can’t wait to see my flamingo standing up on its feet!! I hope I can make it! I will post new pictures when it’s done.

  4. Perhaps you could use rebar. It comes in shorter lengths though it is heavy. Attaching feet might be difficult though. I use rebar for structural support for many projects. It rusts so must be painted if it shows but the texture would definitely look like long bird legs.

  5. I have three suggestions for the support legs: one, an old pole
    lamp or similar base, wood parts or what I use most of the time –
    PVC pipe and parts. Great stuff and easy to cut. See attached
    diagram. Good luck

  6. You could try dowels. If you go to menards they have the rods in different sizes and length. Many would be strong enough to hold up the sculpture. Then I wouldn’t put the paste on them at all, just paint them the correct color. That would keep them thin enough to mimic real life.

  7. These sculptures are gorgeous. Glad you found Jonni and this site.
    I recently made a Washington Nationals Baseball duck named Quacker Jack!


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