Sifaka lemur

Made by Julie Byrne

I made this lemur as a retirement gift for a friend of mine. This sculpture was inspired by and modeled after his favorite lemur from nearly 40 years of work at the Duke Lemur Center. It is only my second attempt at paper mache sculpture, but it sure was a fun one to do! The sculpture is approximately life-size, and I made a pattern from photos of sifakas from all sides that I had collected over the years. I mostly used the cardboard, crumpled newspaper and masking tape technique, but used foil for the more delicate areas on the face. Then used the basic clay recipe to cover it all. The twigs he is holding are from my back yard, but the flower buds are paper!

Sifaka lemur armature

Lemur hand armature

12 thoughts on “Sifaka lemur”

  1. Julie, your lemur is absolutely wonderful! I have been thinking about doing one myself. But with the excellent job you did, I’m somewhat intimidated. Congrats for a fabulous lemur!!!

  2. Do you know what lemur this is modeled after? I had a friendship with Terres at the Duke Lemur Center and this one looks just like him. RIP. He was bit by a copperhead snake and died. Curse the ground that snake slithers on.

  3. You ought to stay obsessed. What a great gift and wonderfully executed. I love the whole thing, but those hands and feet are great. You caught the perfect expression of getting caught. Thanks. What’s next?

    • Hi Rex, Thank you! I will absolutely stay with it! What’s next? Very likely another species of lemur. I have several to choose from and many friends who would now like one of their own!

    • Yes, the texture was just created with the paper mache clay. I put it on very thick and very moist, then pulled up peaks of it with a pallet knife. When it dried, some of those points were really sharp, so I sanded it all before I primed and painted it. I primed it with spray primer so I could get it into all the crevices. Then when when I painted it, I used a really scrubby brush, mixed the paint quite thin and really worked it in all directions.

      • Awesome – good to know!
        I’ve done similar with the texture of the various feathers on a pelican sculpture. Always looking for tips though, and I wasn’t sure if other people are playing with real thick pmc for texture.

  4. Julie- this lemur is fantastic! I can’t believe that it is only your second attempt at paper mache sculpture! You obviously did a ton of research prior to the actual sculpt…isn’t Jonni’s website the best? You definitely need to keep sculpting and showing us your work! Welcome to the paper mache obsession club! Really great sculpture!

    • Jonni’s website IS so wonderful! Gives even beginners such confidence and impressive results! I also agree; it is quickly becoming an obsession! Thank you for the support and encouragement!


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