Paper Mache Rabbit

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In a previous post I showed you how to make a little paper mache lop-eared bunny, using newspaper and masking tape to create the form. In this post I’ll show you how I created a Dutch rabbit using modeling clay as a temporary internal form, instead of using a crumpled paper armature.

I’ve been using the newspaper and masking tape technique for years, but it does have it’s drawbacks. It is cheap, but developing small details can be a real challenge. Creating details in Super Sculpey is easy – it’s a wonderful medium for sculpting, but I don’t like the “plastic” look of it after it’s been baked. For that reason, I decided to see what happens if you use the Sculpey for a form for a paper mache sculpture.

Since the Sculpey isn’t baked, and the paper mache doesn’t stick to it, you can use it again for another project (which is nice, since it’s pretty expensive). You can’t leave the Sculpey inside the sculpture, though, because the oil in the clay would eventually seep out into the paper, and ruin the painted finish.

Step 1:

Making a clay model for a paper mache rabbit

My first step was to create a little rabbit out of Super Sculpey. (I would not use Sculpey if I did it again. I now use this soft plastilina, because it’s a lot less expensive and it’s easier to work with)

Once I was happy with the form, I start adding newsprint strips, using a paste made from flour and water.

To make a boiled paste, put one cup of water and a rounded tablespoon of white flour in a small saucepan. Mix this well (I use an electric mixer), so there are no lumps. Now put the pan on a burner and slowly bring it to a boil, stirring constantly. As soon as it begins to boil, remove it from the burner and allow it to cool. It will “gel” as it cools.

This paste is not as strong as the raw paste I normally use, (see the paper mache recipe page) but it does make it easier to bend the paper around small details.

Step 2

Adding paper mache to the rabbit

In the photo you can see that the first layer of newsprint was allowed to dry, and I’m now adding the second layer of brown Kraft paper. I’m using a bag of beans to hold the rabbit in a convenient position. When adding the paper you need to be fairly careful that you don’t change the shape of the underlying Sculpey form. (I thought about putting the bunny in the freezer for a few minutes to firm him up, but I didn’t actually try it.)

Step 3:

Cutting the paper mache apart to remove the clay

Once the second layer of paper is completely dry, I used a very sharp box cutter to remove cut the rabbit in half. I cut in areas where there were no small details to worry about when the rabbit was put back together.

The Sculpey was then removed in pieces (you lose the original form, of course, but the clay can now be used again for something else.)

Step 4:

Adding a last layer of brown paper and putting the pieces back together.

I now used strips of Kraft paper, dipped in the raw flour paste (just mix up some white flour with water, to the consistency of heavy cream) to add a layer on the inside of the rabbit, to reinforce the walls of the sculpture. In a recent experiment I found that the raw paste is stronger than the boiled paste.

Then I put the two halves back together, using Kraft paper and raw paste, and added the ears.

Step 5:

An experimental layer of gesso to smooth the paper mache

From this point, the rabbit was finished just like the lop-eared bunny, except that I experimented with a glue-based gesso recipe I found online instead of the flour/water/glue recipe I used before.

The result:

The finished paper mache Dutch rabbit

The Finished Paper Mache Dutch Rabbit

20 thoughts on “Paper Mache Rabbit”

  1. Also I am doing a project for school and i used chickenwire for the base of my model and i was wondering if i need to put something on top of the chicken wire before placing the paper mache clay

    • Yes, you’ll need to cover the wire with masking tape or one layer of paper strips and paste, because the clay will fall through the holes of the chicken wire.

  2. hi I really want to make this for my mom because she loved this bunny but i was wondering if I could make the mold of this bunny using regular newspaper like the other projects instead of using the super sculpey… and if I can would it be too hard to create the body?

  3. Thanks for the tips Jonni, it was really helpful! I’m plaining on starting it today or tomorrow (it depends). Also, i will let you know how it comes out. And i’am glad to hear that you are going to do more projects. I’m excited about the next bunny project, can’t wait for it to come out! Thanks again. ~May

  4. Wow this project is so cute and adorable! I’m also going to try this out. And the best part is that it looks just like my rabbit. But i had to give it away because i couldn’t keep it anymore. Is there any tips you can give to me? You explained everything really nicely and it was easy to understand. Thank you so much! I hope you can do more! Your very skilled and talented. Again thank you for sharing!

    • Hi May. The one thing to remember about this project is that you have to remove the plastic clay as soon as the paper mache is dry. If you don’t do this, the oil in the clay will seep out through the paper, and ruin your sculpture. I think if I did this again I’d use a cardboard pattern on the inside of the body and legs, and fill the form out with crumpled paper or aluminum foil. I’d cover it with masking tape, and then use the new paper mache clay to finish it. That way you could do your modeling and details right in the paper mache clay, and you wouldn’t have to take it apart to remove the innards. Maybe, after I’ve finished my Oryx and my upcoming Snowy Owl, I’ll make another bunny using the newer techniques. If you beat me to it, please let us see how your rabbit turns out.

  5. the idea of making paper mache with clay for the model got me inspired to make a panda for my sister.
    i finished it in 2 days!

  6. When you are using the new clay, do you use the paper strips like in regular paper mache? Or is it simply the clay that is layed over the Sculpey? And do you “water down” this clay to the cream like consistency for the inner layer? This sounds like such a wonderful way to sculpt, I am eager to try it! Thank you very much for your assistance!!!
    Best wishes,
    Ann Thompson

    • To be honest, I have not used the new paper mache clay over a Sculpey inner mold. This rabbit tutorial is the only one on this site that uses Sculpey to build the entire inner form.

      The wonderful thing about the new clay is that you can sculpt it into details that are almost as fine as you could with the Sculpey, so you can make a inner form out of crumpled paper, then add your clay to it. You can put on a thin coat first (no need to water it down — I don’t recommend that you do that — and once you have a solid skin on the inner form, use your clay to form the features.

      And the clay completely replaces the paper strips and paste. I have not yet experimented with cutting the clay skin in two after it hardens, removing the inner form and then putting the pieces back together. I think some kind of reinforcement would be needed at the seams.

      I’ve been busy the last month or two working on a new book that will take you through the process of using the paper mache clay to create animal sculptures, and it will also show you how to make your own patterns based on photos or a sketch. I know it’s a bit confusing on my blog right now, since most of the tutorials were made with paper strips and paste, yet I keep trying to convince people to try the clay, instead. The new book should make things more clear. But I’m putting so many hours into the book that I haven’t been able to write much on this blog at the same time. Sigh… There are only so many hours in the day…

      • Thanks very much for the quick reply! And for such a thorough response!! You answered all my questions with your reply. I wasn’t sure if you used the clay with the strips, if you watered it down to do that and if you put a skin down to put the details on. Good luck with your book, and please keep us posted with when it will be finished, I want my copy as soon as it becomes available ~~~ you have a devoted fan here!!!! Oh, one more thing, is it OK if I link your site to my blog? I would love to spread the word about your work AND have ready access to it whenever I want to stop by. Thanks very much for everything! Ann Thompson

        • Thanks, Ann. I’m glad I could help. I hope the book will be finished and available on Amazon.com by April. And yes — of course you can link to this blog, or any page on the blog. I will take any link I can get!

  7. Hi Jonni–

    I absolutely LOVE your site! So much good information, and so well written and photographed. You’re such an incredibly talented artist–your projects have inspired me tremendously. I can’t wait to get my hands sticky!

  8. Hi, I have recently started decorating papier mache and have found finding bunnies a hard task. I’m ready to try my hand at it after reading your methods. However, do you sell any of your designs? Or would it be more cost efficient for me to try it myself?

    Your bunnies are beautiful! Just what I am looking for, but not finding. Thank you for the useful information, and if you would, please email me with the answer about whether you sell your designs, otherwise I will never find this page again!


    • Hi Sue,

      No, I don’t take commissions for small items like the bunnies. They take so long for me to make that I’m sure you would find the price way too high to be reasonable. I make these items for my own enjoyment, and as an excuse to create the tutorials on this site. I may someday be interested in taking commissions for “serious” work, but I’m not there yet. But thanks for asking!

  9. Love your little bunny . so cute. I would like to get into paper mache more. I have only made a couple of pieces.


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