Paper Mache Horse, Day 2…

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.

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. 😉

Yesterday I started to make a paper mache horse. (See the first post here). To be slightly more accurate, it will, I hope, look like an appaloosa colt when it’s finished.

Yesterday I made a full-sized sketch and cut legs from plasterboard, using the sketch as a pattern. Today I used the same pattern to cut out the torso, neck and head of the colt out of cardboard.

Torso, Neck and Head Cut From Cardboard
Torso, Neck and Head Cut From Cardboard

You can see that I began to build up the volume of the chest and abdomen areas. I then used masking tape to attach the legs that I cut out yesterday.

Legs Attached
Legs Attached
Legs Attached, Shown from Behind
Legs Attached, Shown from Behind

I made sure the piece would stand up on it’s own, and it feels fairly stable.

Then I began to build up the muscles of the legs, shoulders and hips using newspaper and masking tape, and put more crumpled paper on the abdomen to round it out. I have not even started thinking about the neck and head at this point, although I am starting to get a bit worried about what I’ll make the mane and tail out of. But that’s a problem for tomorrow.

Then I put one layer of paper mache on the torso area, using newspaper strips and paste made from flour and water. The modeling isn’t even close to being finished, but I put on the paper mache because it holds much more securely than the masking tape. Once the paper and paste has dried hard I won’t have to worry about the legs moving. It also covers up the sloppy masking tape, so I can more easily see the true shape of the form.

Torso with First Layer of Paper Mache
Torso with First Layer of Paper Mache

Tomorrow I’ll round off the lower part of the legs a little, and use joint compound to finish the modeling of the muscles on the legs. I’ll use the compound instead of the paper because it’s heavier, and I think it will help make the sculpture a bit more steady on its feet. I also hope to get started on the neck and head, and figure out what to do about the main and tail – any suggestions are welcome.

54 thoughts on “Paper Mache Horse, Day 2…”

  1. Hi Jonni, it’s Sarah… (photo attached this time)
    I have finally finished my year 6 project! I used the template from your book for the horse’s structure, and built out the body with foam and clay.
    This is how it looks. I am also projecting words onto it so that is why I kept it plan white.
    Thank you for all your help, and I appreciate your emails.


    • HI Sarah. I can’t wait to see your horse. Did you happen to take photos of the way you used the foam in the armature? I’d really like to see that. The photo upload plugin is temporarily out of service, but I’m leaving it ‘live’ so the developer can see what it’s doing, and, hopefully, fix it. Please check back towards the end of the week, and try again to show us the photo.

    • I HAVE USED paste of flour and water and after a few years my sculpture was full of little holes like the ones termites do.
      I was so sad because it took so many hours of hard work.Do you have any solution, what to use instead of flour and water

  2. Hi Jonni, it’s Sarah.
    I have finally finished my year 6 project! I used the template from your book for the horse’s structure, and built out the body with foam and clay.
    This is how it looks. I am also projecting words onto it so that is why I kept it plan white.
    Thank you for all your help, and I appreciate your emails.


  3. Hello Jonni
    My name is Harmony and i have considered doing this for a year 6 project fo a while, as it looks fantastic but there are some questions, first off would it be okay for the foal to have cardboard ‘base’ legs? As i am not familiar with the stuff that you used, Secondly, would using newspaper and pase for the lumps & bumps of the body be okay? And finally if i do manage to do this what colours/markings would you reccomend?

    P.S Sorry for any spelling mistakes as i just got a new keyboard.

    • Yes, cardboard would be much better than the plasterboard I used. I happened to have some lying around, and tried it – it was a mistake. Cardboard is lighter and stronger.

      Yes, you can use newspaper and paste for the bumps. That will work just fine. As for colors, I’d do a Google image search for horses, and choose your colors from your favorite images. Horses come with so many different colors and color patterns that it would be really hard to chose one for you.

  4. Hello Jonni,
    My name is Sarah and I was thinking of doing a paper mâshé horse for my personal project. If the cardboard and plaster board don’t work, I was thinking of using chicken wire instead.
    Are there any important notes I should consider before starting?

    P.S I absolutely LOVED your horse.

      • Thanks for the help! I am in grade 6 and doing this for a Personal Project.
        First I think that I will make a mini model and then a larger size (probably not as big as yours though)
        But instead of painting the horse, I think I am going to print out words like ‘Family’ and ‘Friends’ because they are important to me.
        What material do you think is best for the legs for the larger one? I read that you didn’t like the Plaster board?
        P.S I bought your book, but it will take 2 weeks to arrive 🙁

        • Yes, the plaster board was a mistake. I had some lying around so I decided to try it – but it “melts” when you add damp paper mache. I suppose it would work just fine if you use the paper mache clay recipe instead of paper strips and paste. However, plain old cardboard works much better. It’s stronger, and it’s lighter. Go with cardboard.

          I hope you have fun building your horse. Be sure and let us see it when it’s done.

          • Thanks a million!!!
            I (luckily) have an entire year to finish it (just as well because I am really ‘fussy’)
            I was wondering, when I have finished the mini model and I’m starting on the bigger version, if there are any concerns I should consider? Or are there any easier short cuts I could use? (I have watch almost ALL your videos and they looked pretty complicated)
            Thanks again! You are such an inspiration 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂 🙂

            • I’m always looking for faster ways to do things, too. Lately, I’ve been using a layer of plaster cloth over my armatures, just to speed things up. It gives you a hard surface that you can then add some paper mache clay to, to get final details and textures. The new air-dry clay works really well over the plaster cloth. And you can do part of your armature with clay, if you don’t mind cutting the plaster cloth apart and putting it back together (since you can’t leave the clay inside). Did you see how I did the rhino? I don’t honestly know if that’s faster than using crumpled paper and masking tape, but it feels more intuitive. However, once you have your first smaller model done, the process probably won’t seem quite so complicated. It just takes a lot of words and pictures to explain, is all.

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