Why I Use Patterns to Sculpt Paper Mache Animals

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The video below helps explain why I always use a pattern when I’m creating a paper mache animal sculpture. I didn’t come up with this idea myself, but once I found the idea I realized how important it was.

In fact, this is idea made it possible for me to write my own book, Make Animal Sculptures with Paper Clay.

Watch the video to see how the patterns work, and why they help you create sculptures that turn out exactly the way you want them to. If you’d like to see a detailed tutorial showing you how to make a pattern, and how to enlarge it to exactly the size you need, watch this video, too.

As I mention in the video, the idea originally came from the book 3-D Wizardry: Design in Papier Mache, Plaster and Foam, by George Wolfe. It’s been out of print for years, but you can still get a used copy on amazon.com if you follow that link. At the moment they have one for just 5 bucks, and it’s an interesting read.

You can make your own patterns for four-legged creatures. To see how to do it, click here.

So, why do patterns make it easier to create paper mache animal sculptures?

It’s actually quite simple:

  • They set the proportions and outlines before you start, when it’s still really easy to make changes.
  • And they tap into our instinctive ability to recognize animals instantly from their outlines. If you get that outline right, you can fudge a bit when you fill in the forms, but people will still see a realistic sculpture.

You can make a sketch of an animal, like Chris did when she made her life-sized giraffe, and use it for your pattern. That’s also how Rex did it when he made his “piggy” banks. Then you can use that sketch to create a completely original sculpture of any animal you want.

Or you can use one of the patterns in the Art Library or one of my Premium Patterns, and add your own distinctive creative touches.

Either way, you’ll be creating a one-of-a-kind sculpture, and you’ll know how the shapes are going to turn out before you even start.

If you’ve created an animal sculpture from one of the patterns on this site or from your own pattern, we’d love to see how it turned out.

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Patterns for animal sculptures

7 thoughts on “Why I Use Patterns to Sculpt Paper Mache Animals”

  1. Hi Jonni
    I have just finished my first tiny dog..a Great Dane..it took ages to make the structure and I was surprised to find I only needed 1 layer of paper mache. It seemed to be very hairy and I used several layers of acrylic gesso before painting it.
    Better luck next time I guess!
    Thanks again

  2. Excellent thanks Jonni..that really makes sense ( humanity recognising patterns of animals).
    Your book Tiny Papier Mache dogs has just arrived here..and I’m very excited to try the recipes..( once my armature wire has arrived!)
    But I have cats and would like to apply your process to making some of those too..does that sound ok? I’ll check for a pattern on your menu first!
    Thanks again for the inspiration

    • Hi Drusilla. Yes, you can make cats with the same techniques. You’ll just need to find some good photos or clipart of cats showing them from the side. And add the “bones” with your wire. Make one of the dogs first, just to get the hang of it, and then go wild. :)


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