We have a wonderful guest post today, from a gentleman who started with my 3D baby elephant pattern, and then added some very creative ideas of his own to make it truly special. In fact, the skin texture on his baby elephant is outstanding – and it looks easy to do.
I’m very happy that he agreed to show us some of the methods he used when he made his baby African elephant. I’ll let him take it from here…
©2015 Basil Hammerton
Adding Creative Touches to the Baby Elephant Wall Hanging
Hi There, My name is Basil Hammerton. I am a 57 year old male who recently rediscovered paper mache on a Discovery program called “Hows it’s Made”. They featured a company in Toluna Mexico which makes incredible animals out of paper mache. I investigated further and came across Ultimate Paper Mache.com. I was hooked. Jonni is an amazingly talented person who is only too happy to share what she has learnt. I love to play the drums, enjoy catch and release salt water fly fishing, tying all my own flies. I now have another hobby, paper mache, which takes up even more of my limited spare time as I have to work 40 hours a week as a maintenance worker at a Grammar school here in Auckland New Zealand.
After completing Jonni’s Frog I started on the Jack Rabbit and Elly my baby elephant. Elly probably took me approximately 2-3 weeks to complete as I was limited by time constraints and because I was also working on the Jack Rabbit at the same time.If I devoted my time to her completely until finished I am sure I could get her done in a week, although I am somewhat of a perfectionist so this might be a bit generous.
Cutting out and assembling the pattern was time consuming but I actually find this part of the process very enjoyable. I pretty much followed the way Jonni does it here, using half a polystyrene ball glued in to each eye socket first then stuffing it all tight and compact with tin foil. I stuffed the trunk separately first then attached it to the rest of the head then stuffed the head. Next time I think I will try bubble wrap for this as I seem to accumulate heaps of it at work and I hate waste especially plastic.
Next was a complete covering in masking tape.Taking what I learned from previous projects I wanted to make sure I did not have to sand her eyeballs after all the clay and gesso was applied or lose their nice rounded shape at all so, after the first and only layer of paper strips and paste all over, I applied a coat of gesso, as per Jonni’s recipe, to her eyes. When this was dry I sanded it to a nice smooth finish. This helped ensure I kept the original round shape produced by the polystyrene balls inserted in the cardboard pattern.
I then applied a very thin layer of Jonni’s paper clay recipe, not worrying too much about texture or features at this stage except for her nostrils and tongue. Nostrils were done with the handle of an artists paint brush as were the inner folds of her trunk.
Then another layer of paper clay, taking time now to add features like the bigger wrinkles on the front of her trunk and ears and eyelids. As far as tools go these were all done with whatever worked best. Old knives, spoons, pens, paint brush handles, anything really that gives you the effect you want. Use whatever works best for you. An artists pallet knife kept wet was an invaluable tool to help smooth it all out into an even layer.
Toilet Paper Elephant Skin
After taking time to experiment, (and I strongly urge you do this as eventually you will hit on something that really works, don’t rush any part of the process), with different types of paper I found that a very thin single ply toilet paper when applied wet onto the still wet clay with a brush instantly crinkled up into the perfect elephant skin effect.
After letting the first layer dry I applied another to accentuate this effect.
Painting was easy as it was two different shades of an overall color. All paints were acrylics. First a lighter grey applied with a brush, then when that was properly dry a slightly darker grey applied with a cloth. I wiped the darker grey on and then lightly wiped it off. This allowed the lighter color to still show through. Then I filled all wrinkles in with black again wiping the bulk of it off to leave just the deeper pits and hollows black. Wiping it off like this also meant that the black kind of smudged onto areas adding a third shade to her skin.
For the eyes I used yellow ochre for the main color then mixed a little white with it for the iris details with black pupils and white reflection spots. Like Jonni, I cut a circle out of a piece of tissue paper folded in half, then glue these circles on with a light coat of PVA or Elmers glue. This ensures you get two eyes the same size. (One problem I have had in my three projects is symmetry so anything that helps makes this part easier I do not hesitate to use because as with my Bullfrog, one eye larger than the other spoiled the overall effect). Then I top coated the eyes with two coats of clear nail varnish finished off top and bottom with false eyelashes glued on with a 5 minute clear epoxy glue. Elly was born.
I am now looking forward to my next project of a mother humpback whale and calf. This will be my first attempt at making my own armature so we shall see. Jonni’s 3D patterns certainly gives you a good head start in achieving a realistic shape to begin with. Have a go and good luck.