Get a fast start on your next paper mache project or hand-made gift with Jonni’s easy downloadable patterns for masks, animal sculptures and faux trophy mounts. The patterns help you create a beautiful work of art, even if you’ve never sculpted anything before.
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Important Note: I used drywall (plaster board) for the pattern on this project, just to see if it would work. It didn’t! Use cardboard, instead. I also used Super Sculpey as the form for the head and I forgot to remove it after the paper mache was dry, like I should have. The oil in the modeling clay seeped through the paint and ruined part of his face. It took about a year for the spot to show, but then it just kept getting bigger. I also used Super Sculpey for my giraffe head -but I did it right that time, and cut the head open to remove the clay. Live and learn. 😉
It’s finally looking like a horse! It’s been almost two weeks already.
Here’s what I did yesterday and today:
- Rebuilt the face with Super Sculpey – see the note at the top of the page. I didn’t take the Super Sculpey out of my sculpture, and the oil in the clay seeped out into the paper and ruined the painted finish. If you use any kind of modeling clay for your mold, you need to remove it by cutting the dried paper mache down the middle, take out the clay, and then put the head back together with more paper strips and paste.
- Covered the plastic clay with one to two layers of paper mache
- Added the mane and tail
Getting Both Sides The Same
I have a hard time getting my sculptures symmetrical. Sometimes being a little lopsided adds character to a paper mache animal sculpture. However, I do like to check to see if both sides of the face are the same, and the easiest way to do this is with a mirror.
Adding Paper and Paste to Details
It’s easy to lose the details when you use paper mache over clay. I exaggerate the indentations when I’m modeling with the Sculpey, especially the finer details like the eye and nose. Then very thin strips of paper are pasted over the clay, and I use a modeling tool to carefully press the paper into the grooves. I’m going to leave the Sculpey inside the head, so I only used one layer of newsprint over the eyes and muzzle. The other areas of the head got a second layer of brown paper and paste.
Mane and Tail
I wasn’t sure until today what I’d use to make the mane and tail. A reader suggested that plaster casting strips would work, and a photo she sent me of her own paper mache horse made with this material proved that it works quite well. However, I decided that I like the textural contrast of something soft added to a hard paper mache sculpture, so I looked around for another material to use.
I came very close to taking a trip to the local Walmart to browse the aisles in search of good tail material when I remembered the burlap I recently purchased to cover my worm bins. There was a little left over, and I decided it would be perfect for my sculpture, after a little bit of work.
- For the mane I doubled over two pieces of burlap and crudely stitched them together along one side.
- Then I pulled out all the threads that were parallel to the stitching. This left a “brush” of stiff burlap “hair.”
- I cut along the folds and removed most of the material on the two inside pieces of burlap.
- Then I applied a very heavy coat of carpenters’ glue to the material. This was for two purposes – to glue the individual threads together at the base of the mane so they wouldn’t easily fall out, and to provide a wide surface of strong glue to hold the mane onto the neck.
- The two long edges were pressed onto the neck and flattened out. Then two layers of paper mache strips were added to securely fasten the mane to the neck.
- Then I covered the mane with plastic wrap to protect it while I finish the ears, sand and paint the horse. The plastic will be removed when the sculpture is finished. She’ll probably need a haircut, since foals have much shorter manes than adult horses.
The sequence is shown below:
The tail was done essentially the same way.
- Long strips of burlap scraps were sewed together and then rolled up to form a cylindar at the end that’s attached to the horse’s rear end.
- Threads were removed, leaving a long brush of “hair” sticking out below the stitching.
- I opened up the cylindar and removed as much material from the inside as I could without causing it to unravel.
- Then a big glob of glue was pressed into the material to hold the individual hairs together before pressing the tail onto the horse.
- Paper mache layers were added to cover the burlap that was flattened out on the horse’s rear. I used several layers of paper and extended them a long ways out from the tail, in order to create as solid a connection as I could.
You can see how this looks in the images below:
Before I go any further I’ll also cover the tail with plastic wrap so it won’t get paste and paint in it. To see what the mane and tail look like now, before their final haircut, check the photo at the top of this post.
My next task is to sand the sculpture, cover it with gesso, and paint those adorable appaloosa spots!