Snowman, Hold on to Your Nose!

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Paper mache snowman with rabbits trying to steal his nose.This delightful paper mache snowman by Alan Wakefield includes three scheming rabbits – they’re after the snowman’s nose! I begged Alan to show us how it was made, and I’m so glad he agreed! I’ll let him take it from here:

Paper Mache Snowman, with “Friends”

Hi Jonni, these are the details of the snowman build, I hope it’s the right sort of thing for your site. [Yes, Alan, it’s perfect for this site! JG]

I am a retired English engineer living in Portugal. I have carved wood and sculpted ceramics for many years, but working with paper mache is a new venture. We don’t get snow very often in The Algarve so I decided to make my own snowman from paper mache. I took inspiration from an illustration that my son Luke did many years ago. You can just about see it on the work bench. What follows is a brief account of how I built Snowy.

Paper Mache Snowman, The beginning.
Paper Mache Snowman, The beginning.

Building the Snowman.

I started by rolling a cardboard tube about 20 cm diameter by 30 cm tall this was stuck to a 60 cm square card base with masking tape. Next I made several 5 cm deep cuts around the top to give me tabs approximately  2.5 cm wide. the tabs were folded over to enclose the tube and make the shoulders and neck area of Snowy. Rolls of newspaper were used to bulk out the base and to form the arms, these were held in place with masking tape. Once I had the basic shape it was covered with strips of kitchen paper, these were stuck down with a mixture of plaster crack filler and white PVA glue thinned with water to a paint like consistency. The head is a ball of newspaper covered in tape glued down and reinforced with a chopstick spike.

When dry Snowy was given a top coat of paper clay. This is an equal mix of toilet paper soaked in hot water and blitzed to a fine pulp, PVA glue, corn flour and ready mixed crack filler. I use ready mix filler on this because I find that if kept in an airtight container the clay will last much longer, the down side of that is, it takes longer to set on the job. I use powder plaster for the glue as this goes hard quicker. The toilet paper was strained and most of the water was squeezed out, then all parts are brought together in a bowl by hand. A good investment is a box of latex gloves as the clay won’t stick to them and they help with the smoothing later. Work the clay for ten to fifteen minuets to get a smooth consistency, then store airtight until needed.

The rabbits are made in a similar way to Snowy.

I started with a card rabbit profile then bulked with paper for the body, the limbs were rough shaped card stiffened with folded card and tape. Everything was covered in kitchen paper strips and glue, then sculpted with paper clay. I had some trouble with the ears of the baby rabbit as I made them too narrow at the base and found that the glue made them sag I had to reinforce with strips of plastic yogurt pot. I will rework the ears after Christmas when I have more time. When finishing with the paper clay I found that tapping it in place with a latex gloved finger helped it adhere to the body and give a smooth even covering.

The Armature for One of the Rabbits
The Armature for the First Rabbit
The Armature for the Second Rabbit
The Armature for the Second Rabbit

Top Hat and Scarf.

Making the top hat was fun. Just bits of cereal packet taped up and covered with glue and kitchen paper strips. A thin roll of kitchen paper around the brim helped to stiffen it. Some black paint, white highlights and a bit of a crumple helped to give it that Dickensian look. The scarf was four sheets of kitchen paper still attached to each other and folded to make a long strip. This was tied around the neck and covered with glue. I liked the way the paper took on the appearance of fabric once it was dry.     

Adding the Snowman's Top Hat and Scarf
Adding the Snowman’s Top Hat and Scarf

Painting the Snowman and Rabbits.

Finally it was all painted with acrylic. The rabbits just balance on each other rather than being glued, I think it gives them a more lifelike feel. The small snowman was made for a friend using the same technique but the arms are made with twisted wire covered in tape.

Watch Out, Mr. Snowman ...
Watch Out, Mr. Snowman …
The Rabbits Are Coming ...
The Rabbits Are Coming …
Little Snowman
Little Snowman
Close-up of Snowman, with Rabbits
Close-up of Snowman, with Rabbits

All the best for Christmas and the New Year.


©2016 Alan Wakefield

31 thoughts on “Snowman, Hold on to Your Nose!”

  1. What a great talent. Your work is awesome. The snowman is so cute. Now you need a wife for your snowman. Then a family, But only girls because if he had a son he would melt. Ho Ho Ho. Merry Christmas,

  2. Its a great snowman Alan. Specialy the detail with the rabbits. I finished mine just yesterday. Happy christmas. Paul

  3. Thank you Alan for sharing. I absolutely love it! I so enjoy the humor you have created with the rabbits trying to get a snack. It made me laugh. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and that 2017 is all that you wish it to be.

    • Hi Lesley, it’s real nice that you like my work. So, how about it? I’ve shown you mine will you show me yours?
      Feliz Natal from Portugal

  4. Alan, both snowmen are adorable, but the large one is amazing. How long did it take you to sculpt this charming creature. And when you say kitchen paper do you mean paper towels? Best wishes for a happy holiday.

    • Hi Joyce, so happy that you like them. Paper towels…probably, it’s the stuff that comes on a roll like wide heavy duty toilet paper.
      Feliz Natal from Portugal

    • Thanks Karla, yes the little guy is cute, but I had to eat several chocolates to get enough colored foil to make the Christmas baubles. However, it’s OK, some of us are happy to suffer for our art.
      Feliz Natal from Portugal.

  5. Alan – You’ve created a wonderfully playful scene for this winter season! I so appreciate the work you put into it. I agree with Shelbot, the element of teamwork gives a clever movement to the piece. Well done!! Happy Holidays!

    • Hi Deb. Thanks, I started this piece for my own amusement and I’m more than happy that so many appreciate my work.
      Feliz Natal from Portugal

  6. Thank you for sharing this, Alan. It’s charming! It has so much character, and I especially like your decision to leave the rabbits freestanding to give them more life.

    Jonnie, thanks for introducing Alan. Thanks, too, for all the work you do throughout the year to share information. Every day I quick-delete masses of emails in my inbox as I try to keep up with a day that always seems just a few hours short of what I need. The one thing I never delete and always slow down for is an email from you promising a new post. It really is a bright spot whenever one shows up. I wish you a very happy holiday season, and I very much look forward to seeing what you’re up to in 2017!

    • Hi Bee Bee, thanks for your kind words, I have to admit that since going on display in the village bar I found that I had to attach the bunnies with Blu Tac (non permanent sticky putty) as the adults seemed to take great delight in rearranging them in suggestive and, dare I say, pornographic position. And I was more worried about the inquisitive fingers of children.

      I agree with you, Jonni has my thanks also, she does a sterling job keeping us informed.

      Feliz Natal from Portugal

  7. This is such a sweet snowman! I absolutely love the addition of the rabbits. Very cute and clever. I used to make pinatas for family birthdays out of newspaper and paste. I just started re-visiting paper mache. A lot of new products to try – a far cry from the paper mache of my youth (long, long ago). This snowman is an inspiration.

    • Hi Maria, thanks for your kind comments. Now……Pinatas…..I never thought of that, I could corner the market here in Portugal. Thanks for inspiring me.
      Feliz Natal

  8. Just adorable……! I have always loved paper mache. When I was in seventh grade ( a few years ago..cough..cough?) I made a horse for the kindergarten class room, all out of the newspaper and wheat paste, sealed it with paint and varnish… lasted many years to the delight of the children…glad to see this technique has improved by using better products.

  9. Alan, this is a really fun sculpture. The idea of having the rabbits using teamwork to achieve their goal is brilliant. And I love the way they are posed. Thank you for showing us.

    • Hi Shelbot, thanks for your comments, it was a lot of fun to build and is now on show in my local coffee bar where it has been a hit with young and old.

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