Paper Mache Buddha with Jo- Finished!

It struck me last night as I was going to sleep, that I just needed to finish this project.   So here it is!   Once again, if you are interested in the paper mache instructions and commentary, read on.   

Paper Mache Buddha with Jo

I promised in the last post to talk a bit about the cloth mache.   Usually when I make lips I fold a small strip of cloth and simply wrap it under the mouth for the bottom lip.   Then I do the same on the top.  In this case I added a fold under the nose.   For the most part, that's enough for nice lips.   Of course a laughing Buddha should have lips that are a bit more plump, like Angelina Jolie.  So I added a couple more small pieces of cloth around the folds. 

I folded cloth again and made eye lids.    I wanted them to be crescent shaped.  And I made a navel.   Just poked a hole in the belly and stuffed some cloth into it (just like I did with the nose and ears). 

I painted him a pale orangish-pink.   He was very bright.   Then I blackwashed him.   It's funny, blackwashing is the step that most people who try my paper mache techniques resist.  They fall in love with the first coat of paint and don't want to ruin it.  I understand completely.   Look how awful this face looks right after the backwash.    But I'm telling you, you need the darkness to appreciate the light.  (How's that for a nice Buddhist type saying!  Actually, it was Bill Alexander, the crazy painter on PBS that used to say that, along with "Fire it in there!" when he was applying paint.)   You spend a lot of time on the details of a project and you want to see them.  The blackwashing really pulls them out.

Notice how much better he looks once some of the color is added back.  I put a small amount of paint on my brush and hit the high points on the head, the nose, ears, etc..   Note that I added a bit of pink to the lips and cheeks.    Of course the best part of doing my paper mache art projects is scraping the paint off the eyes.   It was no different with this piece.   Buddha came alive when the paint came off.   And, if I may brag a bit, I think he ended up looking very happy and wise, well, at least happy.   Then again, it might have just been the caffeine.   Did you notice that I pulled the arms and the cup up closer to his face?  This Buddha was made for a coffee shop after all.    I wanted to associate the bliss with the cup of coffee. 

I bought some nice cloth and made a robe.   Sorry, I didn't document the making of the robe.   Just got carried away and did it.  Suffice it to say that it really isn't a robe.   I wouldn't have been able to put a real robe on the Buddha since you can't move the arms.   So the cloth is pieced together with hot glue to simulate a robe.  

And what would one of my paper mache pieces be without a cat?  So here's...

Buddha with Jo and Max.

Thanks for hanging with me.   I'll post a video of this build on Youtube very soon.   I just need to do some editing.     I've got another paper mache piece of art started in my studio.   I'll post something about it soon.   Take care.


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  • 8/21/2011 4:07 PM Suz wrote:
    Boy was I glad I checked my email on break, This is the moment we have all been waiting for and as usual, it is just FABULOUS!! I LOVE him! He is so happy with his cup of Jo and just makes you smile back! The robe is perfect, great job on that too! I didn't even think about how he was going to be dressed in the end, that was a nice surprise! You are so inspirational! but I still haven't attempted your style, I will someday, I swear... I sooo want to...working on another project and can't wait to get done with it, its been months of a few hours here and there, but have gotten to a good point now. I had to make a mold of it (its a bust) to reproduce a base to work from, so the final results can be altered with each one. Anyway, looking forward to seeing the video, those are always very fun to watch, hope there's lots of kitty shots in it!! He's beautiful Dan!!
    Reply to this
    1. 8/21/2011 7:13 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hi Suz!
      I knew I would hear from you quickly.   I was not wrong.   You are always so supportive.   It's really appreciated.  Thank you.   I'm very happy that you like the Buddha now that he is finished.  There were a couple of periods where I fought with him.  But I think I won in the end.   All I wanted was a happy fellow that likes his coffee.  Actually, I waiting for the first angry Buddhist who thinks this is sacrilegious.

      I hate to say this, but for some reason the cats were no where to be found during this build (until the very end when I was taking photos of the finished Buddha).   I noticed it last night as I was editing the video.    I don't know what happened.  I don't purposely put them in the videos, they are usually just around.  So you might as well skip this one.  Sorry.

      Reply to this
      1. 8/21/2011 10:09 PM Suz wrote:
        Ohhhh, yeah could be one of controversial things, I would hope not, but ya never know.. Hopefully the art will make them smile instead?
        No kittys!!! crum! I'll miss em, But Oh I will still watch the video, wouldn't miss it!!
        Reply to this
        1. 8/21/2011 10:27 PM Laynie wrote:
          It's true, the kitties make the videos better, but I'll still watch without 'em!
          Reply to this
          1. 8/21/2011 11:14 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
            I looked again at all my raw video.   They just weren't there.  I didn't notice till it was in the can.     It's strange.  I have been kicking Max out lately because he's taken to marking his territory.  Very annoying.   We need to talk to a kitty shrink.  Ugh.   Anyway, maybe that's why he wasn't around.      He's been better of late and he's allowed back in by space.  But he must behave himself.
            See you.

            Reply to this
        2. 8/21/2011 11:17 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
          I guess a little controversy isn't a bad thing so long as someone doesn't throw a rock through my window.    Sorry about the cats.   I know they will be in the next video because I've already started and I've had to fend off both of them since I  have long tentacle type pieces which they love to bite.   The  video is now on my site.  Check it out!
          Reply to this
          1. 8/22/2011 12:55 AM Suz wrote:
            Loved the video, lots of changes huh... and I spotted a kitty! Couldn't tell which one though, at .51 !! LOL..
            Reply to this
            1. 8/22/2011 10:10 AM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
              I can't believe it!   What a sharp eye you have!   I looked at all the raw video a couple of times to see if any cats were in there and didn't see any.    Yet you caught that little head sticking out for a millisecond!  Unbelievable.   I tried to freeze the frame to see who it was but couldn't get it to stop when that head was sticking out because it was a blink of the eye.  The only thing I noticed is that my shirt was inside out for that session.  Oh well, old men do such things.

              You are too funny Suz!

              Reply to this
              1. 8/22/2011 10:28 AM Suz wrote:
                Yeah, I tried to stop it too, but it would stop on that frame, so I couldn't tell who it was! And I had to go back and see your shirt inside out, THAT I didn't notice, that is too funny!! As long as you don't go to school that way! lol...
                Reply to this
  • 8/21/2011 4:47 PM Willow wrote:
    As much as I love this piece, I still like Max the best.
    Reply to this
    1. 8/21/2011 7:17 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hi Willow,
      I know you like Max the best.  And Eddie, but that's just because you have an Eddie too (of course yours is an adorable reptile).   Thank you for stopping by.

      Reply to this
  • 8/21/2011 10:00 PM Batya wrote:
    OK Dan it's really fab and say you convinced me. so how do you go from black all over back to a convincing color? how do you wipe it off the eyes? just add on pink? I'd add on pink everywhere, so how did the black help? sorry for the stupid question. also, the technique of the eyes is a mystery to me. is it a marble? how is it done? my one reservation is I'd have expected a REAL Buddhist to sit full lotus...
    Reply to this
    1. 8/21/2011 11:06 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hi Batya,
      Good to hear from you!  About the blackwashing...It's a little hard to see on the photos I posted.  They are a bit misleading.  I water down the black paint, brush it on, and wipe it off before it's dry.   How much black stays on the piece after I wipe it off depends upon a couple of things, the sheen, and how long it dries before I wipe it off.    I used flat paints on this Buddha so a little more black was left on him than usual when I wiped him off.   But it isn't all black.   It is still pinkish with black over it.   There is still enough pink that when I put the highlights back on, it still shows through.  If you look carefully at the photo after I added the highlights you will see the blackwash.  It looks like shadows under the eyes, inside the nose and ears.  The trick is not to repaint after the blackwash.  Just put a little of the paint on the brush and then brush it over the high spots.    Having said that, sometimes I get carried away (story of my life) and end up almost repainting.   Then I blackwash again and add highlights again.   Sometimes I add multiple washes in colors other than black.  Photos rarely capture the depth of color you can get be doing that.   And this was NOT a stupid question!

      About the eyes.  These eyes are mannequin eyes.  The are glass so latex (acrylic/latex) paints won't stick to them.   Well, it will stick, but you can just peel it off.  That's what I'm doing at the end.  I don't worry about getting paint on them because I know the paint will peel off.

      About the Buddha.   There is the traditional Hindu Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama (sp) who sat under the tree and attained enlightenment.   He is usually thin and sits in a lotus position.   This is the "Laughing Buddha" from China, big, happy.  I've never seen him rendered in a lotus position.  He's usually just lounging around.   Of course Buddhas don't usually drink a lot of coffee either I suppose.  You religious scholars out there, feel free to correct me.
      Thank you for checking in.   Talk to you later.

      Reply to this
  • 8/21/2011 10:07 PM Laynie wrote:
    Ohhh, this is wonderful!! I love his robe! I'd love to see a full making-of video of that, even at high speed! I'm just fascinated by this... Buddha came out so happy, he's just wonderful!

    My own doll is coming along. Your videos gave me the courage to completely cut off her bustline when I noticed some symmetry issues. I also ended up cutting into the legs and the torso to add wires for arms and feet. The feet/boots are almost ready now, so I have to tackle the arms. Not looking forward to that one... *laughs*

    Thank you so much. Your videos and blog have given me the push I needed to dig in and finish a project that had been sitting in a box for over 2 years! I'll share pics when it's done.
    Reply to this
    1. 8/21/2011 11:11 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hi Laynie,
      Nice to hear from you!   You can see the video on my site now,   Make sure you click on the large screen.    I hope you like it.   Thank you for your nice remarks.  I really do appreciate it.  I'm always nervous when I do an unveiling.  You just never know.  I lose objectivity as an artist. 

      I'm very happy to hear that you are working on your art!  There is no better compliment than hearing I helped get someone going with their art.   Keep at it.   Don't stop or it will be another two years.   Time is slippery (he says now that he's turned 61).   I'd love to see photos, and post them on my site if you are willing.

      Take care

      Reply to this
      1. 8/21/2011 11:48 PM Laynie wrote:
        I understand... part of me wonders if I'll keep fiddling and refining this piece til I'm dead! I keep finding little things I'm not happy with, so I add a bit, take away a bit, add a bit, take away a bit. She's about the size of a fashion doll (Like a Barbie, but a little taller), so I'm working with small, sometimes teeny pieces to get subtle effects. It's working well, though!

        I'm also taking process photos because I'm finding it really helps me to see the piece more objectively. I was surprised to see that once I took a set of photos with her standing (front, back, both profiles, and Ā¾ views) there was a huge difference in the symmetry- one shoulder was much longer, so her breasts were lopsided. Not good!

        You talk about SCARED when I cut into her chest the first time! I was sure, theoretically, that I could cut her open, remove the parts I didn't need, and build a new chest I was happy with... but still, it was scary! Felt good to see it work out though!

        As for time slipping by, BOY do I hear you! I turned 39 a couple of weeks ago, and my son turned 18 this year. I swear, he was 3 last month! I always heard that, but didn't realize how literal it was til I experienced it myself. Still, growing has its benefits, so I won't complain too much... it's much better than the alternative!
        Reply to this
        1. 8/22/2011 10:00 AM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
          Hi again Laynie,
          I think one of the hardest things in art is knowing when to quit.   I've turned projects into mush by working them to death.   I know that's not happening with you.  You are just being a perfectionist.  But it is easy to lose objectivity.  Sounds like you are having fun.  That's important.

          My youngest daughter is heading off to college.   I started late having kids.   It's going to be strange not having kids in the house.  You are still a Spring chicken...not even 40 yet!  Plenty of time to finish the doll!

          Reply to this
          1. 8/22/2011 12:08 PM Laynie wrote:
            You're so optimistic! Yea, she's doing nicely, but I am not only a perfectionist, I'm also a bit of an immediate gratification kind of person. That doesn't work well with paper mache! *laughs*

            And yea, I've got lots of time, it just seems like I got here lots faster than I thought I would.
            Reply to this
  • 8/22/2011 5:46 AM Lyman wrote:
    Looking great, Dan! Now I know how Buddha achieved his serenity: it involved a really good, hot cup of Jo. I think the face turned out really well; he looks jolly enough for a coffee shop. Those pendulous ears look hilarious.

    I did a double take because I have a bathrobe that looks just like his!
    Reply to this
    1. 8/22/2011 10:18 AM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hi Lyman,
      It's always nice to hear from you.   Hope you are making lots of art.   I'm glad you like the Buddha.  It was a  fun project.  That's funny about the bathrobe.  You must look really great in it....kind of a Hugh Hefner look.   That cloth was pricey.  It took great courage to make the first cut into it.  I was afraid I'd ruin it. 
      Thanks as always for your supportive remarks.
      Talk to you later.

      Reply to this
  • 8/22/2011 6:46 AM Bonnie wrote:
    He's incredible! What a wonderful advertising & conversation piece! Not to mention a showplace for your artwork. I've followed you making him from the beginning using your instructions in making my own first paper mache project - I'll sent you a photo & a note if it comes out the way I hope it to. Anyway the owner of that Starbucks should be very happy with the Buddha - I know I would be. Please keep the projects and instructions coming. BTW-
    How do you keep the cats from eating your paper mache? I have two and they think I've put out a buffet for them!
    Also- I know you said you're 61. Don't sweat the number. You don't look your age and to my eyes,
    very handsome- lol- not hitting on you as I'm happily married, but just sayin anyway.
    Reply to this
    1. 8/22/2011 10:26 AM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hi Bonnie,
      What a nice comment!  I'm very flattered on many levels.  Thank you!  
      I'm happy to hear that you are making something.    As I've said before, it's always a severe compliment when my work inspires someone to do their own project.  I would definitely love to see it when it's done (and post it on my site if you are interested).    

      My cats have never wanted to eat my paper mache.   But every cat has its own personality and way of operating in the world.  I've learned that much about them.   Maybe if you put some salt in the mixture or something it would discourage that behavior. 

      Again, thanks for the compliments.  You are very sweet.
      Talk to you later.

      Reply to this
  • 8/24/2011 11:47 AM Lyman wrote:

    Thanks so much for adding a link to my site to your site, however, it's spelled
    "Monster Mache" not "Monser-Mache".


    Reply to this
    1. 8/24/2011 2:24 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Sorry about that Lyman.   It's fixed.

      Reply to this
  • 9/7/2011 8:13 AM Boxer wrote:
    A fellow blogger sent me your way after my current post about paper mache. I love your blog and this buddha. I'll be back.
    Reply to this
    1. 9/7/2011 9:14 AM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hello Boxer.
      Loved your blog.  It was great fun!  Good luck with the chicken.

      Reply to this
  • 9/15/2011 5:54 AM Krystal wrote:
    Your sculptures are the most awesome thing I have ever seen! I have only recently started to do paper mache and I was scouring the internet for tips, tricks, etc. and ran across your blog. I am going to try my own soon, although I am not sure what it will be yet! As soon as I get the money I am going to buy your books, I am sure they would teach me a ton. Keep up the awesome work!
    Reply to this
    1. 9/15/2011 10:19 AM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hello Krystal,
      Thank you for the nice comment!  I really appreciate your kind words.  I'm glad that you are interested in this art form.  It really is a great medium for artistic expression.

      Good luck.

      Reply to this
  • 1/25/2012 11:47 AM Juliana wrote:
    Hello, I love your work, I wonder what kind of cloth mache, use for your work, and what type of glue used to wet!
    Reply to this
    1. 1/25/2012 1:23 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hello Juliana,
      Nice to meet you.  I'm happy that you like my work.  I just use old bedsheets for my cloth, preferably cotton, and white glue, usually Elmer's (or PVA glue or any all-purpose, white glue).

      Reply to this
  • 1/25/2012 4:31 PM Juliana wrote:
    Thank you so much Dan, you are very kind, I am Brazilian and I live in Spain, and the truth q loved your work, I started with paper leaves, but the technique of pulp leaves, and I liked the way you use the web , especially because it gives another finish, I'm glad you answered me, luck and a kiss from Spain.
    Reply to this
    1. 1/25/2012 4:33 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      You are welcome Juli.   Good luck with your projects!

      Reply to this
  • 1/25/2012 4:41 PM Juliana wrote:
    Dan one other question, what kind of paint you use for your work, I use acrylic, Greetings
    Reply to this
    1. 1/25/2012 4:44 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hi again Juli,
      I use what they call "general purpose" paint here.    It is usually a combination of latex (rubber) and acrylic (plastic).  They call it latex/enamel paint.    They use it as house paint here.   Actually, I use any paint that is water based.  I don't like oil based paints.
      Keep in touch.

      Reply to this
  • 1/25/2012 4:47 PM Juliana wrote:
    Thanks Dan!
    Reply to this
  • 1/26/2012 2:22 PM Marcos wrote:
    Hola, Dan:

    Solo por curiosidad, me gustaria saber cual de todos tus proyectos de papal mache es tu preferido. Si por favor pudieras, al contestarnĀ”me, ponerme una foto de tu proyecto preferido.

    Muchisimas gracias, Dan
    Reply to this
  • 1/30/2012 2:51 PM Mike Sakony wrote:
    Great stuff Dan!!
    Reply to this
    1. 1/30/2012 8:55 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Thank you Mike.  That's very nice of you to say.
      Pop by again.

      Reply to this
  • 1/31/2012 7:33 PM James P. wrote:
    Hi. I am a student making paper sculptures for a school project. Instead of cloth, could you use canvas paper? what paint do you use? thanks!!! i love your work
    Reply to this
    1. 1/31/2012 8:03 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hello James,
      I'm happy to help.  Thanks for the kind words.  You can use any covering you like.   A skin of cloth simply affords more detail and strength than paper (of any kind).  But you certainly can use any outer coating you desire.  I use any water based paint.  I use paint they use for houses (latex).  I use "all purpose" paint from the hardware store.  Any paint will do so long as it's water soluable.
      Good luck!

      Reply to this
      1. 1/31/2012 8:10 PM James P. wrote:
        Thanks alot. How do you make that white paste you use for gluing the news paper on. I saw videos where people used water and flour mixtures...what do you use? thanks again. sorry for the bother.
        Reply to this
        1. 1/31/2012 9:08 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
          Hi again Patrick,
           I also just use cheap white flour and water.  Mix it half and half (to about the consistency of a thick soup).  Use really warm water just because it feels good.   No need to boil though.   I have instructional videos up through this stage on my site,    Only put your hands in the paste!  No paper in the paste.
          Good luck and have fun.

          Reply to this
  • 2/7/2012 4:56 PM jose luis martinez renteria wrote:
    Hi i think that you made great job. in my own opinion i change some methods of your tecnic and also details in paint i would like to know your opinion about my job in paper mache. my webside is
    Reply to this
    1. 2/7/2012 8:32 PM Dan the Monster-man wrote:
      Hello Jose,
      Thank you for the kind words.  I could not see any photos of your work because I need to be a friend on Facebook.  Can you send me a friend invitation?  I noticed that you liked a Dan Reeder that was a public figure.  That was not me.  That was a different person.
      I appreciate the contact.    It is always nice to meet another paper mache artist.

      Reply to this
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