Vintage Chicken – Project #1 in New Paper Mache Book

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This video is part of a series showing the projects in my new book Make Animal Sculptures With Paper Mache Clay. (The video was made before the book came out – it is now available on Amazon.com)

You haven’t heard much from me in the last three months, because I’ve been working so hard on the new paper mache book. I think it will be called Make Animal Sculptures from Paper Mache Clay. I’ll let you watch the video first, and then I’ll tell you a bit more about the book and what I hope you’ll learn from it in the section below the video:

As you can see, (I hope I’m obviously still trying to learn how to focus the video camera!) the first project in the book is fairly simple. I call it the practice chicken, because that’s exactly how I hope readers will use it.

(I actually thought up the idea of using videos in my posts because people claim it’s so much faster than writing. Hah! This one took me all day yesterday, and all morning today. I do hope they’ll be easier, and better, as I learn how to actually do it right. Wish me luck!)

I tend to buy lots of how-to books, and I think it’s frustrating to read a book all the way through and still not  feel that I know how to use the skills the author tried to teach me. That’s why I think it’s so important to start off learning each required skill by doing a real project. I think the best way to learn is by doing. I organized the book so that each project will be just a little more challenging, but all the projects will use the same basic skills so readers get lots of practice. I also encourage readers to try the new skills with their own projects. After all – the true success of any how-to book comes when the reader takes what they’ve learned to create something entirely their own.

Writing a book like this has been an incredible adventure. I’ve learned the value of doing things over (I used to hate doing things over – now I actually enjoy seeing how much better things turn out when you get a bit of practice…).

Just as soon as Jessie (my book designer/typesetter/general book-creation expert) is back from vacation – she took a bit of time off the book project to prepare for the exhibit of her oil paintings – I should have all the chapters completely written and all the photos taken. Then she’ll take over and turn it all into a book, which should be available on amazon.com by the end of April.

Since my part of the book is almost all done, I’ll spend my free time learning how to make videos. After you’ve met all the characters in the book, I’ll start some short how-to videos to show you the basics of applying paper mache clay, building armatures with patterns, etc. Since I’m very  new at this video thing, feel free to offer advice on how I could do it better. (Yes, I will be working on the focus problem! )

And if there’s anything you’d like me to show you how to do (and if I can do it in about 6 minutes or less), your suggestions will be more than welcome. As always, I value your comments.

12 thoughts on “Vintage Chicken – Project #1 in New Paper Mache Book”

  1. Hi again – Jonni – I’m going to ask you to show us how you would approach a lightweight structure for a llifesize doll, if that is not too much trouble. When I mean a doll, it should not look exactly human but more like the old “Patty Play Pal” – if you recall this item. My idea was to copy the plans used in most sewing books for dolls – only bigger – what would be yours?

    By the way I read Ms. Robert’s book “Papier Machie Design” from cover to cover last night, and will re-read it again. Really nice ideas. I guess I can approach a large doll in this way – but she uses strips instead of mache. I prefer the clay.

    I hope this e-mail finds you well and goodbye for now.

    • Hi Joanne. I think you can use most of Michelle’s ideas and simply replace the paper strips with paper mache clay. However, I’m not sure what will happen if you cut open a paper mache clay ball and remove the inner form. The “wound” would have to be firmly held together in order for the hollow ball to be strong enough. I’m thinking that you could use a plastic mesh, sort of like a bandaid, and cover the mesh with clay. We’ll have to experiment with it. If you try it, please let us know how it turns out.

  2. Jonni,
    Love everything I’ve seen so far and am excited to get started on my own art once this semester ends… Ah, unfortunately school comes before play, eh? Can I preorder your book? ( :> Looking forward to the next installment!

    Your devoted fan

    • Hi Ann. Yes, I agree — school comes first. But you have great things to look forward to!

      The book can’t be preordered. But if you’d like to be notified just as soon as it’s available, please sign up for my newsletter. The form is over there on the right-hand column. If you sign up, you’ll receive an email notice each time I write a post, and I’ll definitely be making an announcement just as soon as the book can be ordered through Amazon.com. Jessie says it should be available in May.

  3. Hi Jonni,
    Thanks for the great video, and I look forward to your book and more videos. I also had a hard time with the sound, so I’m glad it has already beed addressed.

    Thanks also for the book review of Monique Robert’s book on Paper Mache Design, I purchsed it over the internet and love it.


    • Monique does have some unique ideas, doesn’t she? I wish I could see one of her sculptures in real life.

      I did try to make the newest video louder. Let me know if it works better for you. The Kodak Zi6 doesn’t give you too many options, (which is why I could afford it…)

  4. hi, I love your stuff-the only criticism is you should speak a little louder-your animals are absolutely beautiful and I want to dabble in paper clay-I want to make a big batch of it because its so expensive in the stores.if you want check out my art on facebook just go to my profile under nick’s paper mache would love to know what you think-cant wait for your book to come out! peace

    • Hi Nick. Next time I do a video I’ll try to turn up the volume a bit. Thanks for the tip.

      I would love to see your paper mache, but I’m Facebook-impaired. Any time I try to do something or find something on Facebook, I can’t figure it out. As usual, I did try to find your work, but had no luck. Is there a URL you could give us so we could all go take a look?

  5. Hi Jonni. Will the videos be showing actual how-tos to supplement or complement the book, or are they more or less teasers (you clever woman, you!)? It’s impressive, seeing all your finished projects behind you on the shelves. Or, that is, getting a glimpse of them. Some we haven’t seen here, like the little horse (right?) You need your own show! (I’m still hoping Sudden Gallery will happen in one form or another, maybe later this spring.)

    • Hi Xan. Yes, I do intend to put together how-to videos showing specific processes that are needed to complete the projects in the book. However, I won’t be doing full-length projects, because I can’t make videos that long. Everything you need will be in the book, though – naturally… 🙂

      Speaking of shows… Jessie was interviewed today by a reporter from the biggest newspaper in her city. It came as a result of her recent exhibit at the Second Space Gallery in Spokane. How cool is that?

      And yes, the Sudden Gallery needs to happen. It will happen. Maybe not as you originally envisioned it, but something will happen, I’m sure of it.


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