Terry’s DIY Giraffe for a Baby’s Nursery

This delightful baby giraffe wall sculpture was made by Terry Czechowski, who graciously agreed to show us how it was done. She used common materials that you can find at your local DIY store, and paper mache clay. thank you, Terry!

How to Make a Giraffe for a Baby’s Nursery

© 2019 Terry Czechowski

I hope I can remember the process. This was made for my granddaughter who is turning four this fall. It took me about two weeks working long days but needed it done so it could be used for the baby shower decor as well.

Step 1, cutting the plywood:

It is approximately 7’ tall and built on a plywood base.

Cutting the giraffe shape out of plywood.
Cutting the giraffe shape out of plywood.

Step 2, cutting and shaping the foam:

I used XPS foam insulation, the green stuff, and some white EPS foam (the beaded stuff) for some thinner layers. I probably used Gripper paint to adhere the foam to the wood and the foam layers. It is found at Home Depot and has great adhesive qualities.

I have since discovered Lowe’s Reserve brand works almost as well so I am always on the look out for oops paint in that brand for a great cost savings. I don’t care about color.

Using files to shape the XPS foam used for the baby giraffe.
Using files to shape the XPS foam used for the baby giraffe.

I often use some mechanical forms of attaching as well whether toothpicks, skewers, floral pins, or screws from the back of wood. I think I just used Gripper for the foam to wood on this, clamping it for drying time.

Cutting the XPS foam for the giraffe sculpture.
Cutting the XPS foam for the giraffe sculpture.
EPS foam used to build up the face details.
EPS foam used to build up the face details.
The foam attached to the plywood base.
The foam attached to the plywood base.

Step 3, coating the foam:

I often use drywall joint compound to smooth out the surface of the foam and fill in any gaps between pieces, followed of course by sanding. At times I have then used a couple coats of Titebond wood glue when dry to firm up the compound. But this one needed a longer term solution.

I coated it with the paper mache clay recipe from Jonni’s book for durability for a long term piece.

Paper mache clay.
Paper mache clay.
Coating the foam with paper mache clay
Coating the foam with paper mache clay

I am constantly on the hunt for coating options. Some of my projects are short term others need to be protected from inquisitive children. Expense is always an issue since most of my projects are for non profits. This one I hope to last long and needed to be safe for handling, ie no rough edges, but able to hold up to rough housing once bolted to the wall.

I used some of the paper mache clay directly on the wood for a bit of texture in the grass area. It adhered well to the wood and the foam. To be honest, the coating process was quite tedious. Many batches and perhaps I did not soak the tissue long enough but it seemed more fibrous and lumpy which necessitated my using small tools to put it on. It was very strong in the end so totally worth it.

Adding paper mache to the plywood for grass.
Adding paper mache to the plywood for grass.
Drying the paper mache clay giraffe in front of fans.
Drying the paper mache clay giraffe in front of fans.
Doing some final shaping on the baby giraffe's legs.
Doing some final shaping on the baby giraffe's legs.

Step 4, painting the giraffe:

I usually use regular indoor house paint due to cost and quantity with acrylics used for small details. The mane is done with Golden’s heavy gel medium for strength and texture.

I probably varnished this for an added layer of scrubbing protection but I don’t remember what I used. I often use the water based varnish made for floors that I got cheap one time. I figure that floors take a beating so should work for my sculptures.

Painting the base coat on the giraffe.
Painting the base coat on the giraffe.
Painting the details.
Painting the details.

Hopefully the photos will fill in any other questions you may have about how this was done.

Finished giraffe wall sculpture in baby's nursery.
Finished giraffe wall sculpture in baby's nursery.

Did you like this tutorial? Share it with your friends:

This baby giraffe was made with plywood and foam insulation from the DIY store, and covered with paper mache clay. The tutorial shows you how to make one for your baby. #DIY #nursery

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