Scarecrow, Waterproofing Experiment, Part 3

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Scarecrow, Paper Mache Clay

Update: After the first rain, the brim on the scarecrow’s hat was flexible, so it absorbed water. It wasn’t sticky, like it was before the clay dried, but it wasn’t solid, either. At this point, I recommend that you read up on the two experiments shown on this site that did actually work: Julie’s mountain lion, made with Quickwall cement over paper mache clay, and Jackie’s Goddess, made with thin set tile mortar over paper mache clay.


The paper mache clay is on the scarecrow.  When he’s dry all the way through, I’ll use a garden sprayer to add the Trojan Masonry and Concrete Sealer –  and then we’ll see what happens.

As I mention in the video, this fellow got two coats of paper mache clay, to make sure all of the armature and the masking tape was covered with about 1/4″ of the pm clay. That should make him plenty strong enough. He’s still very light, because the arms and legs are hollow and the body and head are just plastic bags stuffed with lightly crumpled paper. I wish the dragon armature had been made this way – it would be so much easier to move it around.

One thing I forgot to mention in the video – the paper mache won’t actually stick to the aluminum mesh that I used for the lower part of the scarecrow’s jacket and the jacket cuffs. You have to push the wet clay right down into the holes, which makes the clay squish around the wires to hold it tight. If it’s done this way, the clay and mesh together are very strong when the clay is dry.

I didn’t pay much attention to details, and I didn’t try to smooth out the pm clay or worry about getting it “right.” If the sealer works, I’ll try to make the next one look a bit more professional.


22 thoughts on “Scarecrow, Waterproofing Experiment, Part 3”

  1. This scarecrow – a real miracle to behold. About the jacket ruffle, how did you handle papering that part?

  2. Jonni, I’ve been following your outdoor art projects with interest. I’m curious if you’ve seen or considered these particular materials:

    The first concerns a material called Skratch, an air dry architectural sculpting medium consisting of recycled wood fibre and an unmentioned binder. Apparently it will take fine detail and is either waterproof, or can easily be waterproofed. The second is called Darjit, which appears to be sold both commercially and there is a recipe for mixing it yourself from your own ingredients. It also looks as if it will also take some fine detail, and since it’s mostly to used out of doors, I would assume it is waterproof as well.

    I’ve not used either of these materials yet, and I’m curious as to their durability, and ease of use. They look to be ideal for exterior projects, but I’ll have to test them and see for myself.

    Regards, Ari

    • Hi Aryea. I had not seen those links before, so I’m not familiar with them. The Darjit material is a make-it-yourself recipe, it seems, using Portland cement. I do highly recommend using cement instead of paper mache outside, and this might be a good recipe to use. I can’t tell what the skratchworks product is – plant fibers with minerals, they say. It would be fun to play with, but I doubt I’ll be able to do that any time soon. If you try one of them, please let us know what you think.

  3. I am new to this craft and am reading bits and pieces of advice. I would like to make a literary character for a protected area in my back yard. I read about using carpenters glue at the initial construction and also about sealing with marine varnish. What paint type should I use in between these two steps?

    • Candace, if you’re thinking about using paper mache for your sculpture and waterproofing it with marine varnish, be sure to see Michele’s comment and photo. My own waterproofing experiment failed miserably, and although many people claim that marine varnish will work, my own previous experiment using it on a tortoise failed just like Michele’s. I can’t recommend using paper mache of any kind outside. Cement is made for outside, and it isn’t much more difficult to use, so that’s now what I recommend. I love paper mache, but it just doesn’t like the rain.

  4. Hi Jonni,

    I haven’t posted here in a while but I wanted to congratulate you on your new book. I just ordered my copy and should get it in a couple of days. Looking forward to seeing what you have in there. Now I have a lot more art projects to look forward to starting this summer. Super psyched!! P.s. Always nice to see such creativity flowing here. I will definitely keep coming back to check on your progress with these Oz sculpts. 🙂

      • It’s good to feel like I can finally start working on my art projects again. I noticed from some previous comment posts that I am not the only school teacher/ artist who was counting down the school days to be able to work on art projects. I survived a really busy school year and I am now really hoping I make this into a busy art filled summer. I am counting down the seconds till I get your new book in the mail and get some inspiration going there.

    • Hi I was wondering about substituting the Elmo glue with waterproof PVA and if this might help with waterproofing the clay

      • It might work, but the joint compound and the paper will still be absorbent. I really think we have to consider paper mache of any kind to be only temporary when used outside. It’s great for parade floats and holiday decorations, but for full-time, permanent sculptures, I really think we need to go with some form of cement. I know it sounds like heresy, coming from a paper mache fanatic like me, but still…

  5. Looks like your scare crow is coming along very nice. Love the other readers ideas too. Might start on a “smaller” project but looks like fun.
    Oh I got my new book about making PM dogs. Very nice.

  6. Congratulations on the success of your new book!
    I’m so excited to see you exploring this idea of waterproofing paper mache. Years ago I was in Key West and I saw some outdoor paper mache sculptures. When I inquired of the artist, he reused to share with me how he accomplished the water proofing technique. I applaud your willingness to experiment and share the process especially mistakes and lessons learned. Thank you so much! I’m really looking forward to seeing this through to completion. By the way, I think the scarecrow is adorable!

    • Thanks, Rita. I didn’t pay much attention to smoothing out the pm clay, so I’m a little embarrassed, but from a distance I think he looks OK. If the waterproofing works, I’ll like him much better. It’s too bad the fellow in Key West wasn’t willing to share his secret – that would make things so much easier for us. And it’s not like we’ll all be competing with him next week.

  7. I have been experimenting with different formulas involving glues and caulks. This works but the finish wasn’t always smooth or detailed.
    When I found your site I switched to your mix and have had very good results.
    I would like the instructions for the large batch……it maybe just a simple of doubling.
    I am forming a school for at risk kids. I know that children will love working in this medium.
    I love your site. Please keep yourself safe and well.
    Bill S.

  8. I recently purchased a rustoleum spray called “Never Wet”. I was wondering if anyone has tried it on Paper Mache.

  9. This has been very information. I am frequently asked if certain pcs I’ve made are weatherproof, always have to explain that they are finished with a indoor outdoor varnish, but am hesitant to make any guarantees. I am curious how the water/weatherproofing will affect the paint adherence.


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