Wolf Head with Taxidermy Acrylic Eyes

In this tutorial our friend John B. Martin, from Ireland, shows us how he added acrylic taxidermy eyes to his wolf mask. His method makes the eyes fit perfectly into the “silky-smooth” air dry clay without damaging them. Those realistic eyes, along with the sculptural changes he made to the pattern, resulted in a true work of art. Thanks, John, for sharing this with us.

©2019 John B. Martin

Wolf Head with Taxidermy Acrylic Eyes

I wanted to put taxidermy acrylic wolf eyes into one of Jonni’s masks. Getting them into the correct position was quite challenging.

The head was roughed out with standard paper strip mache and flour paste. When that was hard I put Jonni’s silky smooth paper clay on to round out the features a bit. At this stage I made an eye socket a bit bigger than the taxidermy acrylic eyes that I had sourced. I let the paper clay features harden. (I added in a lower jaw and extended the ruff)

Then I put more wet paper clay around the edges of the eye socket so that when I put the eye into the wet paper clay it would make an exact fit. With one hand behind the mask and a finger-tip in the cup of the eyes I was able to adjust depth of the eyes and the direction of stare while inspecting it from the front.

Then I modeled the eyelids around the eyes. However these eyes are made of rather soft acrylic that scratches easily. Also I didn’t want too get any paper clay on the shiny corneal surface. So I wrapped each eye in cling film. This protected the eyes well and allowed me to position them exactly as I wanted.

Back of Mask —This is my learning point.

Back of Mask ---This is my learning point.

—Cling film over eyes, inserted from the back

---Cling film over eyes ; inserted from the back

I then let the paper clay around each socket harden with the film-wrapped eyes in position.

taxidery eyes in wolf head sculpture

protecting taxidermy eyes with plastic wrap

The paper clay of the eye sockets didn’t stick to the cling film and it was easy to remove the eyes to allow finishing the mask features with sanding, gesso, more sanding, acrylic paint and finally matte varnish spray.

wolf mask in progress

With the mask painted and varnished I glued the eyes into their sockets from the back, this time without the cling film.

The sockets had retained their shape perfectly and the direction of gaze was maintained.

The finished wolf head, with the taxidermy eyes:

wolf eyes

Wolf mask made with paper mache clay.

Wolf mask with taxidermy acrylic eyes.

If you liked this post, please comment below – and share it with your friends.

13 thoughts on “Wolf Head with Taxidermy Acrylic Eyes”

  1. Beautiful job, John. Nice of you, Jonni, to post this mask.
    I’ve used your recipes and love to follow what you do.

    Reply
  2. Thank all of you for your kind words. I gave the wolf to my son for Christmas and it went down well. I have found Jonni’s advice and recipes extremely useful in my sculpting. I’ve used her silky smooth recipe over rough polystyrene sculptures. This allows great detail and a lovely finish. John.

    Reply
  3. Keep one eye open when you go to sleep! This wolf looks so lifelike & might jump off the wall & attack you!

    Absolutely beautiful work!

    Reply
  4. Bravo, John, absolutely brilliant. Thanks for sharing this with Jonni so we could see it and be inspired.

    Reply
  5. Fantastic . The wrinkling of the brow sure adds to the facial expression coupled with the realistic eyes. Nice technique. Thks for sharing.

    Reply
  6. Oh it’s so fantastic, I just love the taxidermy eyes. Thanks for sharing the process! Beautiful sculpting for shape and expression.

    Reply

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