View Full Version : papier mache elephant head

03-05-2002, 11:52 AM
Friends -

I am making a rather large elephant head (roughly 4'x3') and creating the armature out of chicken wire and plywood. Does anyone have any preference on using a papier mache pulp versus paper strip method? Does one dry faster than the other? I am adding sawdust and wood glue to my mixture so that I can sand it smooth. Any comments? Thoughts?

I also have some modeling medium that I have never used and was curious if anyone had any experience with it - Sculptamold? I "inherited" 50 lbs. of it and would like to do something with it. Maybe it would work for this project, but since I have never used the stuff, I thought I'd get a little feedback then try something small.

Thanks! GB

03-05-2002, 05:02 PM
You might want to ask about the Sculptamold in the sculpture forum. The self hardening clay that I've used was less than desirable. I had a lot of cracking. If you used this on the elephant, you could make the eyes and paint them.


03-05-2002, 05:03 PM
and....be sure and post some pics of your progress!

03-07-2002, 10:40 AM
Hi GB :)

I can't wait to see your progress on the elephant head.
Here is a thread we did on Papier Mache a bit ago.

There are some links on there that might be helpful to you.


I used sculptamold almost 30 years ago when it first came out.
The guy who "invented" it worked for the National Cellulose Corporation in Houston Texas.

It's working window is thirty minutes so only mix what you need.
Use a clean container for each batch, as it will set up in five to ten minutes if you don't.
It does have a tendancy to mildew when it is curing.
You can cure it a 200 degree oven but I don't think yours is going to fit in there. LOL
Sunshine or fans is good also.

I dried a piece in my dryer once with the rotation turned off.
I had coated a huge balloon with it.
The balloon expanded and blew up so I had that stuff all over the inside of my dryer.

When I am doing a piece with chicken wire I first use masking tape to cover the entire piece then start out with strips of papier mache' alternating between brown and white so I know exactly how many layers I have.
I always use at least 24lb weight paper.
Newsprint is just too thin for my liking.
The thinner the paper the more layers you will need.
I give it four base coats and then decide how many to add after that depending on the piece.
Generally I do 8 to 12 layers.

I use the pulp as a fill in and to sculpt.

The strips dry fairly quickly depending on the humidity.
I can do four layers in a day.
The pulp takes a day or two to dry depending on thickness and humidity.
I make my own pulp but also use the Celluclay.

The links on the thread I gave you have some excellent recipes.

Good luck on your elephant head.
I look forward to seeing your work :)

03-07-2002, 08:53 PM
i agree with leaflin..love papier mache ! I used to make puppets and giant animal creations..so can't wait to see that elephant head! I generally use paper strips and alternate colour paper too..ending with a final layer of white tissue paper - I like to use celluclay mostly for details..painting it with a layer of gesso before I paint with acrylics and finish with a varnish of some sort..I only have patience for about 3 or four layers however..and sometimes construct armiture from newspaper bound with lots of masking tape..

03-08-2002, 05:14 PM
Leaflin - Thank you so much for the thread and advice! For the armature for this piece, I am using the chicken wire and then the trunk will be made out of this building material called sonotube. It is terrific stuff. (I will post pictures later). It is ribbed tubing made from a flexible plastic. My husband uses it in his work framing up concrete in irregular shapes or in round pillars.

I am going to start with strips and finish with pulp. I have been experimenting with the sculptamold and think it would probably work best for embellishment later on. This elephant is an Indian elephant with lots of jewelry. You are right - have to work fast with that!

Anyway, I will post progress...I will be doing most of the preliminary work, but there will be lots of little hands helping with the layering.

Thanks for all the info!!