My Paper Mache Dog
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.
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.
I twisted newspaper around both wires and then added a piece of masking tape along the back.
That preserves the crease in the tongue. Then I added some bends.
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
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.
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.
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.
I cut some ear and nose holes. Then I made some slits in the toes so that I could add 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……
…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.
Much better! I had to add some rolls of skin under the chin the fill in the gap.
Time for the skin. I started my cloth mache on the underside. First the bottom of the feet. Then the entire underbelly.
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.
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.
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.
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: Painting
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.
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.
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.
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.
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: 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
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.
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