Practice Mutt Mask

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I made a short video to show you a little portrait mask I made of a puppy. This happy guy invited himself to my house last weekend. (I saw him later, tied up in front of a house a few blocks away — so I’m happy to say that his owner quickly found him after Animal Control took over).

This is a practice mask. I felt the need to practice because I agreed to offer a pet portrait mask for an upcoming fundraising event for an animal rescue organization. I think the pup came out OK – but as always, I’d be happy to hear your input. I’ll tell you more about the fundraiser in a week or two.

You can find my book “How to Make Masks!” here.


26 thoughts on “Practice Mutt Mask”

  1. Sorry about your kitty ?
    Why don’t you sell your work ?
    You said you have no more room in your home to display all your creations .

    Just a thought

    • What an adorable lion! I love it. Thanks for your nice thoughts about my kitty. I don’t sell my work at this time because I spend my days writing (that’s how I make my living) or out in the garden. I’m not excited about starting a new business selling sculptures, although I do occasionally think about it. Do you sell your work? If so, do you have any tips for others who would like to go into the art-selling business? And would you ever have any interest in writing a guest post for the blog, showing us all how you made that lion?

  2. Hi Jonni,
    Excellent job! The resemblance is remarkable, you’re so talented but I’ve said that before.
    Jonni, I am working on a couple dogs cause I wanted to try something larger, (to prepare myself for when you do your book on the giraffe) I’ve used the technique of sewing the form and filling it with kitty litter as one of your followers from TN suggested. My question is in the finishing area. How do you get the fur look? I just love this paper mache stuff, the pieces are taking over my space, but I love your method. Thanks and I’m looking forward to seeing the dolls.

    • Kat, are you going to be using the paper mache clay, or paper strips and paste? One way to get some really nice thick fur is to use paste with paper towels, which can be scrunched up into nice long fur. Or you can use the paper mache clay and shape it with a knife.

      • Jonni,
        I will probably never go back to paper strips since I found your fabulous recipe.
        I used your first mixture, not “Jonni’s Paper Porelain” as I like to call it. The first one is 20 inches long by 17 high and I used a butter knife to spread it on so it looks like venetian plaster sort of. The second one I raked a hair pik thru it so it looks more like hair than the bigger one, but boy oh boy I sure don’t have your touch. I’ll see if I can get a pic posted of one or both. Thanks Jonni

        • Very nice, Kat. Unfortunately, only one picture can be added to a comment, so add another comment if you have photo of the other one. I’d like to see it. Was this one the butter-knife pooch, or the hair pik one?

          • Hi Jonni,
            this is the pic of the bigger pooch still in progress with the knife technique. The first one I sent is the hair pik technique but it doen’t show up very well in the picture.
            I wonder if my creations will have to be quizzical in nature, which is ok I guess but I had hoped to make a more realistic version, yours are so authentic looking. What are your thoughts regarding the sewn armature? I think that may be where I lose the reality because the mucsle bulk is missing. Would you like to see the sewn form before the mache is added?

            • I really like the quizzical look. I’ve never tried using the cloth armature for an entire animal, but it’s an interesting idea. You could add more clay to certain parts that you think should get more detail – although the technique seems to be giving you unique look, and that’s nice. I usually use the cardboard pattern covered with crumpled paper and masking tape, myself – although I can see real benefits of doing it your way.

            • Thanks Jonni,
              I really appreciate your input. I used McCalls pattern M6620 I zizzag stitched around the ear and threaded light weight wire thru the zigzag so I could position the ears. I uded two pieces of fabric for little pooches ears so they are able to flip up and down some even tho the JC is dry. I include a pic of both pooches. I used half a wooden ball for each eye and I’m trying to slowly build up the eyelid area. Maybe I’ll try the new JPP for the small pooches eyes. Everything is an experiment with me because I am learning as I go.

            • I think you invented a new sculptural technique, Kat! If you make another one, would you like to take progress photos and do a guest post for the blog?

            • Yes, I think I should be able to do that. I did build up the big pooch in certain areas for mucsle bulk. I put a mouth and snout on him last night, after about thre tries I found it acceptable. Thanks for your kind and encouraging words. Here is what the empty “skin” looks like.

            • What an idea, Kat! Were you able to remove the fabric for re-use, or did it stay inside the pm clay? Did you have to leave a hole to empty out the litter, then patch it later?

    • Thanks, Rich. I knew about one of the changes in their membership agreement, but I didn’t know that they no longer discourage people from promoting their own work. That was the one thing that made me believe that they didn’t want you to put your own images up, but only images that didn’t actually belong to you. Of course, I’ve been pinning my own work anyway (whether they wanted me to or not). I haven’t done a lot with it yet, but I do think it has possibilities for people who actually sell items that have a strong visual component. Pictures sell better than words, sometimes. And I am slowly finding other artists who show their own work, and I’m following them whenever I find them.

  3. Jonni –

    First thanks for sharing the mask and then the video clip of your visting inspiration.

    I truly believe his visit to you was fated- not chance or coincidence. Maybe you don’t believe in those things, but I do.

    It seems he was to be your mask inspiration and the more I study how you did the mask, I think it really came out terrific. I took note of the white markings you tried to match up with his! Very, very nice!

    (BTW-Not an easy breed to create, in quite a few mediums- and on a first try no less! So bravo to you!)

    Thx for reassuring me that he is okay. Yes, it is a high energy breed and they will make their own fun if someone is not around( another pet or person) to play with them.

    He picked a nice house to visit huh? What a surprise for you to see a gate wrecker on the premises.

    But, hey, an artist who just needed a sweet face in front of her to turn on the lightbulb and voila’ – off to work went Jonni, on a dog mask of her visitor!

    (As for dog needing some running time- yes this would burn off all that energy you noticed. But the breed does poorly in heat, so to run with them, ideally it better be in cool to cold temps. They hail from Germany and like a bulldog, suffer terribly from heat. Heat Prostration gets them very fast and it can be deadly.)

    Yes, I do want to try my hand at this mask because I have many reference photos of various dogs I have had, as well as the rescue dogs we work with.

    As for Dachsund being the only purebreed thus far?

    Well, Jonni, you just added another one to your works- a boxer! With natural ears( not cropped). I think this boy’s mask is very worthy of being in a future book of yours!

    So there you go, you not only got inspiration for a mask( hardly would deem it a practice run) but you got yourself an additional purebreed dog in your line up of animals.

    ( I have a feeling your dachsund body could be used as the template for other long body breeds that are low to the ground- like Corgis? All people would have to do is just bulk them out a bit more and the Corgis are not smooth haired so they have to work on the hair effect.)

    The luxury of creating a mutt/mixed breed with paper mache, is you have much more leeway in creation. You don’t have to be sure to stick with accuracy with the anatomical conformation because as long as it obviously passes for a dog- it works.

    I am trying to think of what would be the hardest breed to do, and I think with this medium any dog with a lot of wrinkles would be a big challenge( shar pei- bulldog- neapolitan mastiff and so on).

    As for full bodied dogs I was actually thinking of attempting a full size boxer but my concern is the body armature for an animal that ( for a male) goes typically 75 lbs (and often over that).

    Not saying the paper mache would weight that much- but I am envisioning even attempting such a large scale project makes met unsure if this is over my head * size wise*.

    It is nice to have big creative aspirations; but for starters, the mask will be the first attempt.

    There is a company in England that does what you did with this mask, in porcelain and on a smaller scale and they are meant to hang on a wall. Exact premise but smaller.

    I cannot recall the name but they create many collectibles like these- famous humans to animals- they are head portrait hangings, in 3 dimensional porcelain.

    I have one that is a boxer. Your rendering reminded me of this collectible line.

    If I recall the name I will let you know, but personally?

    I like what you have created better, and the fact that it is a larger piece, is also an important point of appreciation. 🙂

  4. I wrote you a note(via email) saying how wonderful this mask was and how it reminded me of my two of my favorite breeds. Yes- this boy is a BOXER ! What a wonderful rendition you did of him!
    This is a very playful and gregarious breed. They never really grow up- they are puppies for life in their attitude & are the ultimate clown dog. Life is all about fun & they love children- but their large size means accidentally knocking down toddlers when they get exuberant & begin to wiggle all over the place.(Did you notice the wiggling or kidney bean dance? Curving his body into a kidney bean shape in excitement?) Yes- I am sure your gate would have been gone if he remained persistent in getting in. These dogs are all muscle- it is deceiving because many look streamlined. I love this dog who visted you. Adorable gorgeous looks- in person and with the mask! He is darker in color than the usual fawn boxers that have some white on the face and chest that most people recognize for boxers! He looks brindle and white. Great job considering you worked from memory! I hope he will be safe. Rescue frowns on tie out dogs and his breed definitely enjoys walks &doing things and being with people. Being tied out all day can be both dangerous &boring. Hoping things work out for him. He looked quite amusing & loveable. Thx for looking out for his welfare. Amazing he inspired you to make such a beautiful mask! 🙂

    • Hi Janice. Yes, he was a lovely puppy, wasn’t he? I think his owner only ties him out for a few minutes at a time – I’ve only seen him out once. And yesterday I saw the owner working on his fence, so our lovely friend should have a safe place to go outside soon. He has so much energy, it almost seems like he’d need to run for miles to really use those muscles the way he obviously wants to, but if his owner isn’t a runner, that’s probably not in the cards. It’s hard to really give any dog the exercise it needs when you live in the city.

  5. Well Jonni,
    I LOVE your dog! You make remarkable art.

    As far as Pinterest…gives me a headache. If that ever goes away, maybe I’ll then have something to say that makes me look like I know what I’m talking about. Until then, really hate to miss out on an opportunity. Oh well, speaking of which….

    I posted somewhere here that I had a paper mache doll in progress…for the last 3 years. I did put that one aside and started a 2nd. (Haven’t been able to understand how my mind works at times). I didn’t like that 2nd one much, so in the spirit of the Queen of Hearts, it was “Off with her head” and a White Rabbit was born.

    Please stop by my Etsy shop and tell me what you think.


  6. Hello! I would like to participate in this proposal do not know if I can from my Country Argentina.
    I love your work! and I’m trying to make a rabbit, after you sent the photos.
    I would like to stop by my blog to know what you think of my work.
    Thank you, we keep in touch.

    • Hi Monica. I think the art auction (the fundraiser) will start around the first of April. I’ll let everyone know the details when I get the OK from the animal rescue organization.

      You have a very interesting blog, and your work is quite charming. Thanks for sharing.


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