The Most Difficult Shape In Paper Mache?

Made by Gordon Parnell

This simple sculpture was one of my more challenging paper mache sculptures. I knew what shape i wanted but the sculpture had other ideas; namely the distance between the tail and the head. The gap started off at 3-4 inches apart but by the time i finished there was just 1-3/4 inches between them. Though I had never thought of paper as shrinking or expanding as it dried, this was clear proof that it either shrank or stretched–either movement would account for the distance between the head and tail shrinking. Just wanted to share this with the community because i have no good explanation for what happened, though you may have one. I have included a photo of my Pelican King which also melted slightly in the making.

Most difficult shape in paper mache

Pelican king sculpture

3 thoughts on “The Most Difficult Shape In Paper Mache?”

  1. These are both gorgeous and true works of art. The finish on both is incredibly smooth. Which recipe of paper mache did you use? Also what top coat do you put on? Would love to know. Thanks for sharing.

  2. I agree that both sculptures are stunning! I wonder if you used wire inside your armature? That might of prevented movement. If you did, perhaps use a less moveable type wire, like an old coat hanger. Also, I wonder if was the actual weight of the paper mache clay that caused it to minimally collapse inward? Then I would do a super thin first coat, then apply a second finishing coat.
    I love your interpretation and artistry.

  3. Hi Gorden. Those are both beautiful sculptures – and an interesting problem for us to help solve. I know that paper mache does shrink, no matter what recipe you use. It can also change the shape of a sculpture, especially if the paper mache is put on flat cardboard. I believe that happens because it shrinks on one side faster than the other side, and it causes the edges to curl up. That may have happened to your sculpture.

    But, even if your sculpture isn’t exactly the same shape that you intended, it’s still stunning. :)


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