Waterproof Squirrel Sculpture Made with Free Form Sculpt

Squirrel Sculpture Made with Free Form Sculpt Epoxy Clay
This little squirrel is my first bona fide waterproof outdoor sculpture.

I made it using the same techniques that you’ll find in my book How to Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay, but the materials are different.

What did I do differently?

Instead of cardboard for the pattern, I used foam board. The roundness of the armature was filled out with aluminum foil held on with a hot glue gun. (I only burned myself five or six times. I ordered some protective finger thingies, and I’ll let you know if they helped.)

If you’d like to use my pattern to make your own squirrel, click here (PDF).

Once the armature was finished and the foil was squashed down really tight, I made the skin using an epoxy clay product, instead of paper mache clay. The product I used is called Free Form Sculpt, and it’s made by the Smooth-On company. Another product that’s a little easier to find (and almost exactly the same) is Apoxy Sculpt.

Note: After using both the Free Form Sculpt and Apoxy Sculpt for many more projects, I can say that I prefer Apoxy Sculpt. I find it much easier to work with. I used it on a small cat portrait, which you can see here. And I used Magic Sculpt, another epoxy clay product, on a really weird project, which you can see here.

I bought the “trial size” of Free Form Sculpt, and I used a little over half of it. If I didn’t get quite so carried away with the fur on the little guy’s tail, I might have been able to make two squirrels before running out. The material can be softened with a little bit of water, so it can be pressed very thin over the armature. It’s sticky, so it bonded to the aluminum foil. You can use water to keep it from sticking to your gloves, too.

Edit: I finished painting the squirrel, using waterproof flat house paint, tinted with some powdered pigments I had in the studio. Click Here to see how the squirrel looks, now that it’s finished.

If you think you might be interested in learning more about making outdoor sculptures with epoxy clay, let me know. I will be making one more video of this squirrel, so you can see how it looks after it’s painted.


102 thoughts on “Waterproof Squirrel Sculpture Made with Free Form Sculpt”

  1. I LOVE Apoxie Sculpt. Have been using it for YEARS from when you couldn’t get it anywhere but from the company. l have used it on everything from broken / chipped cups, mugs, plates because it is non toxic, to forming new parts to statues that have portions missing to new sculpture. The stuff is amazing. Thank you for doing a comparison of the two products. 🙂

  2. Love your site, I am starting to experiment with Free Form Air as I use many other Smooth On products . I was taken back by all warnings on the label, seems like way more than Apoxie Clay. I even saran wrapped my forearms to avoid “contaminated” and says use outside, difficult in the winter in Cdn.

    • I noticed that, too. I don’t know if it’s because they sell primarily to professionals while the Apoxie Sculpt is for a more general audience, or if they really do have more scary stuff in the product. I tried Free Form Air and wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. What will you be using it for?

      I recently had both the Free Form Sculpt and the Apoxie Sculpt in the house and decided to use them both on a project. I thought the Smooth On product was more difficult to use for details, but it was faster when covering a large area with a thin layer. The Apoxie Sculpt was stiffer right after mixing, so it can take details sooner. Do you find that’s true, as well?

    • Thanks! He’s been sitting out on my dad’s bench for three very cold winters now – and there’s no sign of weather-related damage, which makes me very happy. Plus, my new rescue dog mistook it for a real squirrel the first time she saw it. 🙂

  3. Dear Jonni, I am hoping to make a large squirrel sculpture reading a book that will go outdoors. I have been looking at Pal Tiya, I wondered if you had tried it? I am making a small foil armature of the squirrel presently to have a trial of the product as I normally use plaster bandages for my indoor art pieces. I see that you used a different product – Apoxy Sculpt for outdoors. I am also finding it hard to price my sculpture… If you have any wisdom you are willing to share I would be very grateful. Thank you, Jill.

    • Hi Jill. Your big book-reading squirrel sounds like a wonderful project! I have not yet had a chance to try Pal Tiya, but Eileen made us a very nice tutorial. You can see it here. The Apoxy Sculpt is great for small sculptures, like my life-sized squirrel, but it would cost a fortune for a larger sculpture. Another option for large outdoor sculptures is Aqua Resin. I played with it for a very small project a few years ago – the benefit of their product vs regular fiberglass is that it won’t kill your brain cells. But it’s also expensive. Another thing I want to try, once it warms up a little, is the new concrete product from Buddy Rhodes. It’s not cheap, either – dang!

      I just saw a YouTube video that showed the result of a small paper mache sculpture waterproofed with FlexSeal. It kept the rain out, but squirrels ate it. I hope that doesn’t happen to Tom’s bear!

    • Hi Jonni, thank you so much for your quick response! Attached is my foil squirrel ready for the clay. I have so much to learn! I shall try Pal Tiya on Monday and see how it behaves. I work in my dining room so can assume fibreglass will be toxic for my family? Thanks again. Jill.

      • Hi Jill. Your photo was too big to come through with your comment. Can you edit the image to get it below 250 kb? And yes, fiberglass can’t be done in the house. The Aqua Resin might be OK, but you’d want good ventilation. As the folks on their website to make sure. Normal fiberglass fumes can kill you if you aren’t careful.

  4. Hi Jonni!
    Your sculpt are great,good job!
    I have to make a big squrriel,like the elephant size.Did you do a video for the armature of the squirrel?thank you so much!
    Giulia from Italy!!!

    • Hi Giulia. I didn’t post the pattern because I made a lot of changes to it as I worked. The patterns I do post have been tested and corrected many times. When I’m just making something for myself I don’t do that, so I didn’t put the pattern online. However, you can make a pattern using a photograph of a squirrel, taken from the side. Just trace around the body and legs, and then make it larger with a grid, like I did with the elephant. I explain the process of creating a pattern in my book, Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Mache Clay, and I also have a post that shows how to make patterns larger.

  5. This will be my first time sculpting a craft since art classes in school 50 years ago. I wanted to make pumpkins, for Fall decorations. I will be starting with small pumpkins and then larger ones.

      • Hi Jonny,

        After watching your tutorials, I commenced my first cat paper mache project. I have never created a sculpture, so everything is new for me.
        I have made the form from cardboard, newspaper, foil and tape. I have not coated it with anything yet. Ideally, I would prefer it to sit on my garden rock outside. The shape and size was designed for this purpose.
        Do I first coat this paper sculpture with your purpose made clay and once dry, clay ovef this with epoxy clay for outdoor use? Could you kindly advise as its been sitting on my desk for weeks now, as I try to figure out the next step. I plan to add the tail before any further steps are made.
        My fear is that I should have just made it out of foil and glue, as it may rot inside out if I use it as a garden sculpture. That would then deteriorate the epoxy clay shell.
        Any advice would be of great help.
        Warmest wishes

        • Hi Jen. I would use two thin layers of Apoxy Sculpt or some other epoxy clay, without the paper mache clay. Doing two thin layers should cover everything and make sure there are no pinholes where water cold get through. The epoxy is waterproof, so the paper and cardboard under it should be safe. By the way, we would love to see your cat when it’s done!

  6. I understand that the paper mache clay is for indoor use simply because of the composition of the clay itself but won’t sealing it with a waterproof paint or sealer work to make it waterproof? I haven’t used the clay yet but I used the “paper”mache method with strips of an old sheet on to a chicken wire frame to make a seven foot spider for Halloween. I simply coated it with truck bed liner and that was about 15 years ago. Would something like that work?

    • It might, if you don’t have any cracks or pinholes, and if the coating doesn’t degrade from sun and freezing weather. I haven’t tried every available coating, but the ones I have used didn’t work. Your truck bed liner might, though, because it’s usually quite thick. No guarantees, though! I’m going to try using Apoxie Paste to waterproof a small sculpture, and we’ll see if my experiment works better than all the other ones I’ve tried.

  7. Hi Jonni!
    i have been looking for a hobby and this page thrilled me! May i ask? Is it ok to put the epoxy over the paper mache after it dries? As a thick coating is what i would like to do. Have you tried this or with your experience, might this work?
    thanks in advance! Now to go back and check out all your links and ideas 🙂

    • Hi Jenny. I’ve never tried adding epoxy clay over paper mache, but I don’t see why it wouldn’t work. Epoxy clay sticks to almost everything! Have you already made a sculpture out of paper mache, and now you want to put it outside?

      • I make paper mache fish and I sometimes use clear epoxy to coat my fish instead of lacquer or polyurethane. It makes a very shiny hard finish and I can put them outside. The only negative thing is that it is a lot more expensive to use and once it is mixed it has to be used right away. Another paper mache artist friend uses a fiberglass coating which handles being outside quite well.

        • Claudia, what kind of clear epoxy do you use? I ordered some Apoxy Paste to try, but it isn’t clear. Fiberglass will certainly work, but the resin needs to be used in a well ventilated space, and most of my readers won’t be set up for it.

  8. I’m looking for a hard,protective, reasonably inexpensive coating to put on 2″ foam insulation panels that are cut into shapes. I plan on shaping and smoothing the foam with sandpaper and after that I’m kinda wingin’ it. Do you think I need to prime the foam before the pm clay goes on or do you think that is a wasted step. I realize that this is not the intended use but it seems to be just what I’m looking for. I’d love to hear your insight.

    • Oops. I must of linked over from the paper mache clay video. I intended to comment there. Would the epoxy be better for my application? I don’t think I’ll have time for an order to come in and like the idea of a home brew in case I need to whip up some more!!!

    • Hi Tim. I don’t think you’ll need a primer, but you can do a small test area to make sure. The paper mache clay does dry really hard. It isn’t waterproof, though,. like the epoxy clay, so it won’t work if your sculptures will be displayed outside.

      If you experiment with using the paper mache clay for a foam coat, I hope you’ll let us know how it turns out.

        • Jonni, Thanks so much for all the great info. To call my piece a sculpture may be pushing it. I’m working on stage prop pieces and was looking for a way to coat the audience side with a paint friendly surface. I wanted it hard so that it could withstand the abuse of transportation and backstage mayhem. My concern is in it’s ability to bond to long flat panels that will be vertical (when dry). I was hoping to not have to totally encase it in the pm clay. I think a sample is definitely the way to go on this one. In any case, I am certainly glad my search led me to your site. In all my focus on my needs and my project I must apologize for not taking the time to compliment you on you talents as a sculptor. Magnificent! Thanks again.

  9. Congratulations! Jonni such lovely work. I love your paper mache recipe, have made a thinner batch to use as texture for some of my art work. I’m just an amateur. Do a bit of painting, sewing, embroidery, baking and 3 D pictures. Keep up the good work.?

  10. Dian Bowley
    I live in the UK and am just a beginner in the world of Paper Mache. I have a house full of Miniature Dachshunds both real and ornaments, so was very excited when I found your book Make Animal Sculptures With Paper Mache Clay. In fact I have just ordered a copy. I have just finished watching your video with the outdoor Squirrel and enjoyed watching it. I will be looking forward to seeing him once you have painted him. I will definitely be looking for more of your tutorial videos. Very best wishes Dian

    • Hi Dian – I can’t wait to see how your new sculptures turn out! (You must have a fun household – how many real dachshunds do you live with? The ones I’ve met are really cuddly and love to sit on laps – is they all like that?)

      • Hi Jonni, Yes they are the most loving and perfect breed. I have 12 in total and Bunty she is my Bassett Dachshund cross. Out of the 12 Daxies 3 are mini long coats and 9 smooth coats. I love each and every one and couldn’t imagine life without them.
        I have always loved crafting and my main reason for getting interested in Paper Mache was because I wanted to make a Fairy Cottage using Paper Mache and finishing with natural woodland materials, so far I haven’t been able to find a how to book to help with this.
        I then started to watch your videos and love your Rabbits and Squirrel sculptures, and then I found your book with the Black and Tan Daxie on the cover.
        Working in this way will be very different from anything I have ever done; I have done a lot in knitting ad crochet. I used to make collectors bears in vintage styles and just recently tried my hand at patchwork. Years ago I made a lot of fancy dress costumes.
        I am just at the stage of gathering materials together to try my hand with Paper Mache.
        Thank you so much for taking an inters and for all of the very useful information that you post on line.
        Very best wishes Dian


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