The Wolf Mask is Done…

wolf mask patternNote: The video on this page is part of a long series because it took quite a while to make the sculpture and turn it into a mask. If you’d like a much faster start, check out my new pattern for a paper mache wolf mask. You can use the techniques shown in the video series to embellish the mask and add detail, without needing to start from scratch.

And now, back to the original post:

He’s finally done – the grey wolf display mask is painted. Well, he still isn’t entirely done – he hasn’t been varnished yet. But close enough.

Big question for you: Do you ever work very hard on a project, and about half-way through you realize that you’ve been spending a lot of time thinking about the “next” project instead of “this” project? And do you then realize that there’s been one particular project that you’ve been thinking about as the “next” project for several years now, and you’ve been saying all along that you’ll do it “just as soon as one more thing gets done first?” That’s what I was doing all through the process of making this wolf mask, and I have finally decided to be brave and stop putting it off.

So, my next project, a figure sculpture, will be very challenging for me, but I’ve decided I’m going to do it anyway. I obviously can’t put up any “how-to” photos or videos, because it’s something I intend to learn as I go along. I will try to keep you all posted, though.

So, if you ever find yourself pushing a project aside because you just aren’t quite sure you’re ready, what do you do to get over it? Do you take more classes, read an inspirational book, do some meditation? Is there anything you can do other than just wait until the time is right? If you know the secret, please let us know.

Anyway, here’s the finished wolf mask video:

72 thoughts on “The Wolf Mask is Done…”

  1. Love the wolf and want to do one – but have to first make my skull armature. However – question – what kind of clay did you use to make the original and what do you do with this once finished making the silicone, etc. Do you leave it intact if it is air dry clay? Also I would love to do the silicone on this as I would probably want to make more than one. So you leave the back of the ears open – correct? And you put the paper mache clay over your original lift with the shop towel being used as a first layer first – correct? So shop towels, then paper mache clay, gesso and then paint – correct? So nice Jonni.

    • You have to remove any clay, whether it’s oil based or water based. And for the rest of the process, you got it. You only need the pm clay if you want to add details.

  2. I love this mask and (and this website!) I have huskies and want to make a life size model of them next. In one of the earlier posts about the mask you asked if we prefer videos or written instructions. The later for me please – I only have limited internet access at slow speeds and can’t watch videos.

    • Hi Rachel. I do hope you’ll send us a photo of your Husky model when it’s done. I would love to see that. Will you be making portraits of all your dogs?

  3. Hi, I was wonder how you could go about making a mask like this wearable or rather make a wearable mask using such a detailed sculpt, thanks.

  4. I watched Antique Roadshow the other night, and someone took in a doll made 150 years ago. It looked ceramic to me, so I was shocked to find out it was paper mache and worth $1,500. (Joni, just think how much you’ll be worth in 150 years!)

    I love the air-dry clay (J3, I insist on calling it), and have started 3 penquins, 3 chickens, 1 catfish, and 3 kois. A lady I know wants a 1950 airstream camper, so I’m thinking about that. Any ideas.

    The wolf mask is constantly in my mind. I must give it a try when I get brave. I have a sister who has trained seeing-eye dogs for 20 years. I have been thinking about her first dog, who didn’t make it but lived a life fighting off puppies. If I can do this, a mask of Hester, her first dog, it would be perfect. Thanks again. I am constantly amazed by what people do, like Bob with the letters. This is limitless.

    • Heh – I’m not too sure about how much I’ll be worth in 150 years, but those old dolls sure are nice. Maybe the dolls people make after they read my book (using J3, not paper mache, of course) will be worth a mint in a few years. I’d like that.

      And your dog masks sounds great. Give it a try – I know it will turn out great.

      • I watched all the wolf videos. They were helpful, interesting, and entertaining. I love the cat and how you don’t apologize for her! I guess I need to start by making a mask form. I think I have everything, but I am really slow.

        I have thought about pricing art, and watching the videos makes it clear how time consuming it is. But that is not the point. As a piece of art, I would think the wolf mask should be a few hundred dollars – well outside of what I could buy!

        I’ll be creating while you figure out how to do the human form! Thanks so much.

  5. Hi, everybody. I’m new to the world of paper mache, but so far I’m seriously hooked. I’ve found the best mix for my needs (very primitive at the moment): Shredded newspapers, soaked overnight, then buzzed in the Vitamix with LOTS of water. Then I drain and thoroughly squeeze this slurry, add lots of Elmer’s glue, and start playing. So far I’ve made a lot of beads – African/Indian/Aztec-style “clay” beads, faux turquoise, and even a few small bowls, all of which are dried with “solar power.” I paint my creations with acrylic paints, then finish with a layer of clear gloss. Of course, I make a terrible mess in the kitchen, but I’m having the BEST time….and have even sold a few jewelry items! No pics yet (lost my camera last month) but will try to post if some kind soul will help me do so. You PM artists are PHENOMENAL and so inspirational….enjoying your awesome galleries!

  6. I perfectly understand thinking about the “next” project. I started writing a list of the “next” projects and it was quite a list. Your wolf, however, is so wonderful, I would love to give it a try. I think of projects at night (when I should be sleeping) and while walking my dog. My problem is that I am slow and unsure. When I can “see” what I need to do, that is when I get motivated. Your paper mache book is now a bunch of pages, not one is intact with another. I keep reading and re-reading, which is my inspiration. I also think of how to do the next project. I looked for plastic face forms online today and decided to try making my own. My problem is that I have a Danish nose! Is that something I should do something about? Ignore the size, chop it off, use someone else’s head? Also, I really, really, really want to do an angel (human form) for a good friend of mine. You can spur me along if you post about how to do a human form. Is that motivation enough to get you going? You have changed my life, that is for sure. (Also, if this isn’t too long, how can I determine the size of armature for legs on animals. (link?) That was the most difficult for me in doing your book sculptures, even though you instruct very well the measurements. I did a number of surgeries!) Thanks so much. The wolf is wonderful and inspiring. Can’t wait for the human form!

    • Hi Rex. I agree – doing a human figure would be fun. I haven’t actually done that, though – although I did make a few attempts a few years ago. Maybe we could talk someone into doing a guest post for us, and show us how it’s done in paper mache.

      As for those arms and legs, I’ll let you in on a secret – I do lots of surgeries, too. I’ve even decided that it’s part of the process. I do look very carefully at a photograph, try to get everything proportioned correctly, and then I change it if it needs changing. In fact, every animal that ended up in my book was done over and over again – sometimes as many as five different versions, until I finally decided that I had one ready for prime time.

      • Okay. I won’t “complain” until I have done five of the same thing. The weather was perfect this morning (I live in a small camper so I work outside), so I began 4 new patterns this morning. A lady asked me to do a camper (of all things, a 1955 AirStream); a dear friend said she liked the penguins, so I want to do three in a circle (I do watercolor and did a painting like that); another koi; and I am going to attempt another horse or two or three until it looks like a horse! I would love a guest post on how to do figures. Someone in your world-wide fan club must know someone.

        I am trying to decide whether to do a “real” mask or a wall mask. I need to do the face form first.

        I am going to try and attach a photo of a piggy bank I did before finding your book. It is hollow (balloon) and the money goes in through the nose. The friend I gave it to is a wonderful person.

        • OK, ignore my previous comment – you already told us the back story. Duh – I must learn to read these comments before replying. 🙂

          I just watched a video by Richard Austin that has me really excited about sculpting some faces. He doesn’t have one for the whole figure, but his video for making fun character faces in clay is great. One of the things he encourages is creating a story for the characters, a whole life history to explain the quirks in their faces. I really like that idea. We should have a short story/sculpture thing here – do you think anyone would play?

          • I would play, and it would be extremely interesting to me. 40 years ago I wanted to help people write their autobiographies, so this would be fascinating to me. I’m going to show the front of the pig, because I love her mouth, nostrils (where the money goes – he said he never would because you have to break her open to get the money out), and ears (which are milk weed pods). This is when I began to add joint compound to the piggy banks, until I found your book! Little did I know. Anyway, the foundation for the nose is a “coke” cup. I worked with Michael, and one day he came over to my desk to ask if I wanted to go get a Coke with him (I don’t drink them, but I went). We immediately became great friends. So the nose is in tribute to the Coke run, and I thought for many years about him. He is the most universally loving person I have ever met, and there was no way to express that except though the universe. Hope you enjoy the mouth!

            • Might as well show the rear as well. (Don’t worry, the feet and belly are also painted!) I painted the tail 15 times. The Butterfly galaxy won.

    • Hi Paolo. I don’t sell my masks – but if you show the videos to a local artist, I’m sure you could find someone who could make one for you. Or why not go ahead and make one yourself?

  7. Jonni!!! I stumbled across your tutorials on Youtube and I can not wait to make a mask for an incredible costume ball next month!! I’ll post pictures and my technique but I just wanted to thank you SO MUCH for sharing this fantastic information!! You’ve put so much on the web and I love your positivity and charm so of course I had to buy the book (from Amazon)!!! I JUST GOT IT!!! More to come but a giant THANK YOU first!!!

  8. I have been wanting to make a dragon head sculpture similar to a mounted buck on a wall, But I’m a bit nervous and unsure how to do the teeth? He won’t have his mouth open, but I want him to have a snarl, good and scary! Do I just form them out of clay or do I use pieces of shop towel? It will be pretty big, with a snout at least ten inches long, so the teeth that show might be around one to two inches.


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