Paper Mache Horse, Last Post

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If you’ve been following this series of posts, you know I started this paper mache horse almost exactly two weeks ago. It stands two feet high, not including the ears.

There are a few things I would do differently if I started over, and I’m not entirely satisfied with how some areas of the horse came out. However, it was a very interesting project and I learned a lot, so I’m very happy that one of my visitors suggested this project.

Unfortunately, it didn’t occur to me until this morning when I put the horse down on the ground for his photo that  he’s the perfect size for a toddler to sit on. I intended him as a gift for my two-year old grandson, but I’m sure the horsie isn’t sturdy enough to ride. I should have made it a different size or used my father’s suggestion of using rebar in the legs.

The colt may need to be boarded at my house until my grandson is older – I wouldn’t want the poor little guy to get his feelings hurt if his new horse breaks the first day he has it. I’ll talk it over with his mom and see what she thinks.

I hope this long series of posts has not discouraged anyone from trying to make their own paper mache horse. I admit I ran into some problems along the way, but the end result was worth it.

Here’s a view of the other side of the colt:

Paper Mache Colt, Left Side
Paper Mache Colt, Left Side

In the last post I showed you how I modeled the face with Super Sculpey, covered it with paper mache, and added the mane and tail using burlap scraps.

Since then I did a lot of sanding, added some eyelashes with my DIY instant paper mache recipe, and then painted the colt.

Paper Mache Horse, Last Post
Paper Mache Horse’s Head

I originally thought the burlap’s natural color would be OK, so I didn’t dye it before pasting it onto the sculpture. It is a good color for a horse, but it isn’t a good color for this horse, so I diluted some acrylic craft paint with a lot of water and carefully brushed it onto the burlap horsehair. I made sure to separate the hairs so they wouldn’t stick together when they dried.

I also used a cat brush on the mane to make the ends of the hairs fuzzy.

I borrowed the spots and appaloosa pattern of blanket and socks from “RHR Eagles Redwing,” a colt currently for sale from the Rocky Hollow Ranch in Alabama. Now that I’m looking at the photo of the real colt next to the photo of my fake horse, I realize I should have added a bit more burnt umber to the paint to match the color of his coat. Oh well…

  • [edit, 8/24/09. Michelle, from Rocky Hollow Ranch let us know the colt was sold so you can no longer find his photo on their site. However, Michelle was very nice and put his picture in one of the comments down below. Now you can just scroll down the page and see how close I came to getting those spots in the right place… Thank, Michelle!]

It is a little ironic that I made my paper mache appaloosa colt here in eastern Oregon, just a few miles from  the traditional territory of the Nez Perce Indians, who, along with the Palouse Indians, were credited with first breeding these beautiful spotted horses. Meanwhile, the model for my colt lives all the way down in Alabama.

Paper Mache Appaloosa Colt is Finished!
Paper Mache Appaloosa Colt is Finished!

Sadly, hundreds of these horses were slaughtered in the mid 1800’s by the US calvary in an effort to subdue the Palouse, Nez Perce, Coeur d”Alene and Spokane tribes during the Indian Wars.

The Nez Perce tribe is still actively breeding these fine horses, as well as creating a new breed created from the ancient appaloosa line crossed with a rare central Asian breed called the akhal-teke. If you have an interest in this breed be sure to follow that link. The article is well worth reading.

But enough history. If you would like to use my original sketch as a starting place for making your own paper mache colt you can download a printable PDF copy here. It’s a bit rough (it is a sketch, after all), but you’re welcome to use it if you want a fast start on your own project. Remember that the proportions would be different if you’re making an adult horse instead of a foal.

You can use the grid to copy the sketch the size you want by drawing a larger grid on another piece of paper with bigger squares, and then copying each square onto the new page. To see how I did this myself, see my first post for this project.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. If you make a paper mache horse yourself, or if you’ve already made one and want to show it off, please add a comment below along with an image of your sculpture. The images must be hosted on your own website or an image hosting service like, and they must be small enough to fit into the comment window. I know that’s a bit of trouble, but I’m sure we’d all love to see how your horse turned out.

If you have a blog where you’ve posted your own paper mache sculpture, be sure to include a link in your comment so we can come check it out.


47 thoughts on “Paper Mache Horse, Last Post”


  2. Wow, that is really nice! Your very talented! You have given me so much insporation! I am in the prosess of making a life size paper mache pony….but It’s really hard to do when you have only a few peices of wood, some newspaper, and the wooden frame won’t stay up half the time(I’m 14, so I am very limated in what I can do…and in supplies. tee hee) *_*
    Keep up the great work!! 🙂

  3. I intend to soon attempt a 12″ reindeer. As a read your progress with the idea on using dry wall as a more sturdy material for the leg foundation and the moisture problems I was wondering what you thought of starting with foam board and small gage aluminum wire with fine mesh as a more water resistant a heavier platform, Very helpful site thank you.

    • Hi Gordon. You definitely don’t want to use drywall – that was one of my experiments that did not work as planned. Cardboard reinforced with wire is what I would now recommend. You can see the legs of the horse that I made for my book in this video – the wire was just taped to the thin cardboard legs and then the legs were filled out with aluminum foil, covered with masking tape. This makes a very strong leg. And it was a much easier way to make a sculpture than the horse shown on this page. 🙂

  4. I’m gonna try the pony I’d printed the template, I made the legs shorter because the cardboard wasn’t that big. I will try to post my pony at you tube.The pony isn’t that big about to feet that is my guess.

  5. I really like your horse is really beatifull. I nee to have one in about an week. How can i get instructions on how to make one like this one. Thank you. martha

      • Joni-
        I am working on a horse using your pattern and instructions. I’m not an artist, by any means, ut he looks pretty good so far. The eyes are a challenge, but I’m working hard on them. My question is, and I can’t remember where I read that you did this, but I am using paper towels to give his coat the texture of hair. I’m not sure how to apply them with having distinct edges showing up. Also, since I am unfamiliar with gesso, what exactly is that product? I hope to be able to send you a photo of the finished horse. Thank you for your help!

        • Hi Kathy. The gesso is a white paint that you can buy at an art store, or you can make your own with joint compound, white glue, and a dab of whire paint. It’s thick, so you can make hair texture by applying it with an old stiff brush. For the mane, you can put paper mache paste on your papaer towel and then roll or scunch it ro look like long hair. Just play with it until it looks the way you want it. And be sure to let us see your horse when it’s done!

  6. i really like this worke of art and i want to make it myself. it is very inspiring and it gave me an idea of how to make my own project for school . thank alto!!!!!!!!!! 🙂

  7. Wow!! I am working on a full sized pony and really know that there is no room in my house and was looking for outside weatherproofing it. I stumbled across your site and this foal is awesome!!

  8. We are honored that you chose our colt to make into your art.
    We love it!
    We will put a link to your art on our website.
    Nicely done.

  9. Absolutely wonderful that you would share your talent with paper mache. Thanks for the tips. My grandson begged to make a whitetail deer trophy head so he could hang it in his room. He and I have worked on it for days. Our biggest problem is that it turned out to be life size. But he is really beautiful. Will show him when we finish

  10. Jonni~
    I just want to thank you for your specific and careful directions. I love the way you give clear details about the construction of the paper mache projects. You’ve taken away the “intimidation factor,” and it now seems more possible to accomplish. More than anything, I appreciate your willingness to share your information with others. Your projects and photos are fantastic. Thanks so much!!!

    • Cindy, you and all my readers are certainly welcome. I have a lot of fun creating the projects for this blog, and I wouldn’t have an excuse to make them at all if I didn’t have this site. And believe me, all the wonderful comments I receive are very much appreciated!

  11. Your horse really turned out fantastic! I have loved watching the progress and how you have brought him to life. I have no papier mache art work, but I did want to compliment you!


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