Bulldog with Treat

My Paper Mache Dog

Hi everyone,
Okay, I’m finally back with a non-dragon project.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, I want to make a dog.   I’ve made a couple over the years.   And I love dogs.   I have seen some amazing paper mache dog art.  My friend Sue Mclearie for one. And Marci Forbes (Papierdog).    But what made me want to make another dog is this old guy.
  I snapped this photo of him in front of a Starbucks.   What a sweetheart.  

paper mache dog
I wanted a dog sort of like this.  Of course I could never make a dog exactly like him.   No one could capture that look exactly.   I decided early on to give him blue eyes.   Specifically, blue human eyes.  I just thought it would be fun.    I don’t think I need to show the crumpling and paper macheing I did.   Here are the basic pieces I will use to sculpt.

eyes paper mache balls
First, make the jaws.   As always, I split a paper mache ball and pull out the wad of paper.   In this case I didn’t want a mouth full of teeth.  Just the two canines.   So I hot glued a couple of small teeth onto the bottom jaw.   And I wanted a long, dog-like tongue.   I started with two pieces of wire clothes hanger.
paper mache ball split paper mache jaws
I twisted newspaper around both wires and then added a piece of masking tape along the back.
paper mache jaws with tongue paper mache jaws with tongue 2
That preserves the crease in the tongue.  Then I added some bends. 

paper mache jaws finished
Here is the basic jaw.  I will cloth mache and paint these before starting the sculpt.  
Paper Mache Bulldog:  Cloth Mache Jaws
Here are the next steps in making my paper mache bulldog.   As you know, I always cloth mache and paint my jaws, and tongue, before assembly.   This wasn’t a big job since the mouth will be mostly closed.   That’s a nice doggy tongue.

Next, I picked out a couple of balls that will be the upper thighs, and a couple for the lower thighs.  Yes, that’s what they are called on a dog.   I cut open the bigger paper mache ball and pulled out the wad of paper.    I do this whenever I can to make the project a bit lighter.  I usually reuse the wad of paper later.


It doesn’t really matter to me if the pieces are all exactly the same shape and size.   One of these smaller thighs is bigger than the other.   So I’ll just cram the bigger one further into the upper thigh than the other.  I put the two thighs together and added tape.  Then I cut up another ball (they aren’t really balls, but I don’t know what else to call them. They are smaller, more elongated shapes.) and used part of it for the upper part of the foot.  Well, it’s actually called the rear pastern.   The hind foot will stick out from there.  Sorry, this isn’t easy to describe.


Now I have two hind legs ready to go.   Next, I cut two fairly large holes in the body for these legs.   I break the shell in between so that I can pull out the big wad of paper inside.  Again, I wrap that wad of paper with tape and throw it into a box.   Then I have ready made wads of paper to mache for later projects.   It’s a really nice system I think.


I tape the shell back together.   Everything is significantly lighter now.  I put one leg into one hole and tape.


Then the other.  It still doesn’t look like much.   Trust me, it will look a lot better soon.



Paper Mache Bulldog: Assembly

Maybe this will start looking like a dog.  I wadded some paper to make the rudiments of back paws.   Then I taped the jaws together….

paper mache dog-feet paper mache dog-jaws2

…and pushed them into a hole I cut in the paper mache body.  I grabbed another paper mache ball and cut it open and used the shell for the head.

paper mache dog-head paper mache dog-jaws

I cut smaller balls open and used them for the upper arms (is that the right description?).  I cut smaller ones for forearms.

paper mache dog-upper arm  paper mache dog-front leg

Time to round out the rear end.   I cut another paper mache ball in half.   I used the shells to create a little butt for my dog.

paper mache dog-shell for butt paper mache dog-butt

Then I twisted some paper and using masking tape I added a few rolls of skin on various parts of the body.    I added those big blue eyes.   Wow, is that ugly!

paper mache dog-body paper mache dog-eyes 2

Next, I added the end of a small paper mache ball to make a nose.   I twisted more paper to make some brows.

paper mache dog-nose  paper mache dog-brows

Then I did a little sculpting on the nose.  I used some of the extra paper mache shells I had laying around to fashion some simple ears.

paper mache dog-eyes paper mache dog-ears

Okay so this really looks like a pig at this point.  And the tongue looks gigantic.   That’s one of the things about making sculpture using these methods.   You are sculpting a face without skin.  And that’s the way it looks.    Ugly.

paper mache dog-face

Paper Mache Bulldog:  Toes, Feet, and a little more Cloth Mache
So where did we leave off?  Oh yes…time for toes.   No paper mache here.  Just pieces of wire clothes hangers.  I wrapped paper around them and added masking tape.  Made a bunch of itty-bitty toes.  Then I put them together to make itty-bitty doggy feet.  (Okay, I’ll stop talking like that.)

 paper mache dog- make little toes  paper mache dog- little toes

I fashioned a foot out of a wad of paper and added the toes.   One last pinky on the side.  Is is a “pinky” on a dog?  I added some pads to the bottom of the feet.

 paper mache dog- put on last toe  paper mache dog- little feet

As I mentioned in my previous post, I started equivocating about eyes.   All of you artists out there know how neurotic that can get.  Back and forth, back and forth, brown, blue, cookies.  Brown fox eyes, or slightly bloodshot boar eyes, or blue human-ish eyes?   Obsess, change my mind, graham crackers (instead of cookies, but still 70 calories apiece!)(this was about a 2000 calorie decision.)   After all of that, I decided to keep the blue.

  paper mache dog- more brown eyes  paper mache dog- new eyes

I cut some ear and nose holes.   Then I made some slits in the toes so that I could add claws.

 paper mache dog- ear hole  paper mache dog- slits for claws

I added the claws.   I made black ones.   It turns out that bulldogs have either black or nail colored claws.   At this point I wasn’t happy with the position of the head.   I wanted a kind of frisky look to this dog, with his head down and his butt in the air.  But his head was too low to the ground.  I decided he needed to be looking up a little.  So I grabbed the knife……

 paper mache dog- add claws  paper mache dog- head cut

…and off came the head!    This will surely be the photo that shows up on Google images when someone searches “dog”.  I added to the existing head hole.   Nothing cute here.  It really looks like a pig’s head!   I was listening to NPR the other day.  They were reporting about “Ramen festivals” that are springing up around the country.   Not the Top Ramen you get in the stores, but some fancier kind of ramen.   She described all these people making broth, all these big pots with pig heads floating in them!  That’s how they make the broth!  Sorry, as a vegetarian that would send me running.    Of course I don’t like most vegetables either.   I run from Brussels sprouts.

 paper mache dog- cut off head 

Much better!  I had to add some rolls of skin under the chin the fill in the gap.

 paper mache dog- new head position  paper mache dog- fix head hole

Time for the skin.   I started my cloth mache on the underside.  First the bottom of the feet.   Then the entire underbelly.

 paper mache dog- cloth mache toes  paper mache dog- cloth mache underside

Paper Mache Bulldog-Final Cloth Mache

Well, it’s time to make this little guy a bulldog.    When I used to teach art to kids, I would warn them that much of making art was “grunt” work.   It was not thrilling, just hard work.   But this is one of those days that IS thrilling, when a project finally starts to look like I envisioned (or at least would surprise me in a good way).   I’m going to add the “cloth mache” skin to the face.   I started with the ear.   I poked a piece of cloth into the ear hole, then smoothed it over outside of the ear.  That always makes really nice ear wrinkles, as nature does.  Why?  Why the wrinkles in your ear?  Ever wonder about that?   You should.  It’s strange.

paper mache bulldog-cloth mache ear paper mache bulldog-cloth mache ear2

Next, I folded a piece of cloth to make the lower lip.  Not much of this is going to show.  I added a little more cloth to the upper gums.  Don’t know why.   Now for the floppy, extra skin that defines a bulldog.   I used a fairly large piece of cloth that I folded several times to get some thickness.

paper mache bulldog-cloth mache lower lip paper mache bulldog-begin cloth mache cheek

I started up by the nose and looped it toward the cheek.  I can’t show this here, but I played with those wrinkles for a long time. 

paper mache bulldog-cloth mache cheek paper mache bulldog-cloth mache cheek2

Then I added a piece of cloth to the bridge of the nose.  I crumpled it up to get some wrinkles over the nose.  Then the eyes…I added upper and lower lids using pieces of folded cloth.

paper mache bulldog-cloth mache bridge of nose paper mache bulldog-cloth mache eyes

On to the next orifice.   I pushed a piece of cloth into the nose.   Then I monkeyed (yes, that’s the proper artistic term) around with the cloth on the outside of the nose for a long time.  I think it finally looks like a dog’s nose.
paper mache bulldog-cloth mache nose  paper mache bulldog-cloth mache nose2
So here he is with skin.  Looks a lot better.
paper mache bulldog- finish cloth mache

Paper Mache Bulldog: Painting
Thanks for coming back.  Okay, time for some fun.   I really looked forward to this.   I want to say something first.  I’ve said it many times.   If you like your sculpture before it’s painted, painting can make it better, or painting can ruin it.  So there is always a risk.   If you don’t like your sculpture before painting, paint won’t save it.   I like the way this sculpture turned out so I look forward to painting.   The risk isn’t too great with this doggy.   First I painted it white.  Not much to look at.   I wanted to add brown markings similar to the bulldog in my original photo but a bit brighter and a little more orange.

paper mache bulldog- paint white paper mache bulldog- paint on brown

The trick here was not to get too carried away.   A bit of brown here, a bit there.   Some around the eyes.  That will look really good with the blue eyes.    Because there is so much white on this dog I needed to be very careful with the blackwashing.  I watered the black significantly more than usual.

paper mache bulldog- finished grunt painting paper mache bulldog- blackwash face

Again, because I didn’t want to over do (overdo?) the blackwashing with so much white, I was careful to do it in sections.  I didn’t want the black paint drying before I could wipe it off.  So I blackwashed the face first.  Then the rest of the body.   I know there is resistance to blackwashing out there.  I hear it all the time.  The initial paint job is soooo pretty!  You don’t want to ruin it.   If it really bothers you, don’t do it.  It’s just my preference.  I always think it looks better  after blackwashing.   It accentuates all of those details I worked so hard to get.   This is particularly true with this dog.  These photos don’t do the process justice.   You will see this more clearly when I post my final, high resolution photos.

paper mache bulldog- wipe face paper mache bulldog- blackwash back

No matter what, I always add back color, some highlights.  Just a bit of paint on my brush.  I hit the high spots and places I just want to brighten up.

paper mache bulldog- wipe black paint on body paper mache bulldog- highlight

I painted the nose and added some black to the lips, just like the dog in front of Starbucks.  What a difference that made!  Then I touched up the tongue.   By the way, a good tongue can really enhance a project.   I think a long tongue really helped this sculpture. 

paper mache bulldog- paint nose  paper mache bulldog- paint tongue

I scraped the white paint off of the toenails.   Then, hold your breath (I did), I scraped the paint off of the eyes.   I swear, he came alive.   It was thrilling.  I’m so glad I kept the blue eyes.   I also made the eyes a teeny bit off center (relative to each other).   I think it made him look cute.  You will see that more clearly in my next post.

paper mache bulldog- scrape claws paper mache bulldog-scrape eyes

Paper Mache Bulldog: Done!

Okay, so my bulldog is done.    For not being a dragon I kind of like him.   It was fun.  Here are a few photos.  First from one side.

Then the other
Oh, and I decided to make a little cat to go with him.
Actually the cat was black in the beginning.   Didn’t like him.  So I painted him calico colors.  Didn’t like him.
So I painted him again using the same colors as the dog.  Then I liked him.  I suppose it’s not too surprising that the closer he got to looking like Eddie the more I liked  him.

I’m not sure what I’ll be making next.   I’ve started another dragon, but I’m not sure I’ll blog about him.   I’ll think about it.   Thank you for all of your patience.   I also made one of my usual time-lapse videos of the dog being made if you are interested.   You can watch it here on Youtube.

PS.  Remember to subscribe to my Youtube channel if you like this.

PSS.  You won’t see any ads on my videos, or my blog, or my site.   I hate ads.  Just saying.

39 Responses to Bulldog with Treat

  1. Michelle Westberg says:

    Thank you for your instructive video of the dog. I have volunteered to make a papier mache life sized dog riding a motorcycle for our local Humane Society’s new spay/neuter program. What was I thinking?

    • Hello Michelle. That sounds fun! And like a lot of work! The dog sounds fine. The motorcycle would be the hard part, at least for me. Good luck with your project. It’s certainly for a good cause! And I’d love to see it when you are finished.

  2. Joann says:

    The position of your dog is technically called a “play bow.” My dog wakes up every morning and once she stands up the next thing she does is a play bow. She wakes up ready to PLAY. When dogs do this around other dogs,there might be some growling going on, but if the butt is up and that tail is wagging, that dog is inviting the other to play. Just an FYI.

  3. Judy says:

    He looks great. I was wondering if you have a book with him in it or the big blue dog I keep seeing. I’m kind of new to this at the ripe old age at 70. I have got your dragon books is there a better beginners book.

  4. samir says:

    there is any video for the steps ??

  5. samir says:

    i opened it but there is error in the site

  6. samir says:

    can you tell me the type of sheet you use ??

  7. samir says:

    i wanted to do this dog very much and i will do it inchallah and iam really do mask tutorial its very nice thanx very much for your information

  8. samir says:

    i started to do bulldog but am confused about the pieces you do which one related to any part can you help me very important and i want to know the type of colors you use

  9. samir says:

    what type of colors ??

  10. samir says:

    i used plastic colors but it dosen wet in the cloth ( bed sheets )

  11. Marianne Lower says:

    Dan, do you do any kind of sealing on the inside, or on the whole piece once finished for that matter? I live in Florida, and humidity would have an impact on the dried pieces and the finished art, I would think, and I was wondering about sealing against humidity damage.

  12. Lois says:

    Love the results. A couple of nice looking critters.

  13. Misako says:

    Can you tell me the all materials of this dog? I wanna try to make it cuz I have a bulldog!

  14. Misako says:

    By the way what is cloth for?

  15. Max says:

    Jesus Christ that is the most terrifying thing I have seen in a good long while.

    • Terrifying? I’ve heard lots of criticism for my choice of eyes etc, but I’ve never heard anyone describe it quite like that. Still, that’s better than a ho-hum.

  16. sannaking says:

    Beautiful! I love the cats so much!

  17. darja says:

    Amazing work! I find you on youtube.
    Can i ask you something? What is that White thing in the end? White paper? White fabric? Looks like pieces of paper.. How is that called? Regards from Slovenia!

    • Hello Darja. After sculpting with paper mache pieces I add a “skin” of cloth (bed sheets) dipped in white (all purpose) glue. It is light and allows for lots of detail. Regards from the US.

      • darja says:

        Hello Dan. Thank you very much for quick reply. Maybe I’ll try one day… making a dragon. 🙂 You’re a great artist! I’ll follow you.

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